Iceland Days 16 and 17, August 5 and 6, Our final days in Reykjavik

Today we say “Bless” to the Westfjords and head toward our final stop in Reykjavik via the Baldaur Ferry, stopping briefly at Flatey Island, then crossing the Breidafjrdur.

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Leaving the ferry, it was a long drive into the capital on excellent roads.  No more sheep or gravel here.  We hit traffic and a big city.  Our tour company arranged for us to stay at Hotel Cabin.  Poor choice, especially for our final stop.  They seem to cater to the big bus tours, with huge room downstairs to feed mega-groups.  While we did have a smaller room on a top floor reserved for breakfasts, it was not a good choice.  It’s located a good distance from the heart of the city so we either walked or drove—and parking was an issue.  Plus, they even charge (and it’s ridiculously expensive) for internet, unlike the superb connectivity we received in the “country.”  Obviously, none of these things were a major problem.  But if you do come to Iceland—and I hope you do—this is just a heads-up so your days in the capital are a bit easier.

In the morning, our last full day, we begin by touring the harbor area.  At the east side we find the Recycled House.

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And a great view of the city from the water.

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Along the waterfront is a walking-biking path.  We continue to stroll and come to the Hofoi House, where Reagan and Gorbachev met.  No fence, hardly even a sign.

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 More waterfront sculptures…

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The striking modern image of a Viking ship.

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And anchoring the waterfront at the west end is the amazing Harpa Concert Hall. 

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 Built at great expense, and completed in the years following Iceland’s economic collapse, this has been the source of great controversy.

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First, the external design is unique and reflects the crystal formation found in the pervasive basalt created by the lava flows.  Much like a honeycomb, it’s built with individual glass panels.

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While the external design is unique, the internal structure is even more amazing.  It has perfect acoustics in each of its concert halls, with special movable wooden panels designed to support the specific performance needs, European seats that funnel air conditioning into the room through the chairs so blowers do not interfere with the sound, etc.  Truly an amazing gem.

We began our tour on Gay Pride Day—not the typical mono-purpose event we see in the States.  This is a family holiday here.  Everyone comes to Reykjavik to celebrate and have fun—families, kids, teens, young adults, grandmas and grandpas, along with those here for the cause. 

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Just a fun day with a big concert down by the harbor,

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With all the stores celebrating the day,

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Even open-air shopping.  Bustling activity everywhere.

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Streets were jammed.  We had lunch outside a café on Laugavegur Street and people-watched, then made our way to the top of the city, to the spectacular Church of Hallgrimur.

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True to Iceland’s roots, the church had a statue of Leif Erickson at the front.

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Walking back to the hotel we found another fantastic church,  Phateigis kirka.  So many towers….

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We also found a unique tablet–not sure we want to know what this one was commemorating

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As our final adventure in Iceland, we went to the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, about 20 miles outside Reykjavik.  We wanted to go to the one that gets so much press to compare it to our experience in Myvatn. 

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This spa was definitely set up to cater to the destination traveller—very high end with a store carrying anything you could want from jewelery, bathing suits and sun block to swim vests for the kids…and the were a lot of kids!  

 The pool area was well done, with bridges connecting pool areas, saunas, cool showers, all set against the black lava rocks.

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We were there in the afternoon, so we even saw people sunbathing.  Plus there was a masseuse pool and a swim-up bar serving exotic drinks.

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One extra feature was the special mud available at the poolside to give yourself a facial.

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Always a good sport, even John got in the act. We all were going to get beautiful!  Ewww.  Guess it has to get worse before it gets better. 

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Our final analysis, comparing the two blue holes, was although this one had all the bells and whistles, even a store with wonderful creams and rinses, jewelry, T-shirts, etc, all-in-all it was very commercial.  This was really nice, but having done Myvatn too, I think we all preferred the one in the north.

We again had dinner in town our last night, then Iceland graced us with one last sunset as we drove by the water.

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The  morning before we flew out, we drove around the city for a last look before heading to the airport.

We found a beautiful park and homes around a lake.

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And we passed The Pearl Restaurant on our way out of town.  This was on our To Do list but we never made it.  Great view–we just ran out of time. 

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We left on a direct flight back to the US.  I think we all would love to come back to Iceland one day—it’s just a matter of time and money.  There are so many other place we still want to see. 

One thing I would love would be a quick trip (you sometimes see amazing long-weekend fares) to see a performance in the Harpa Concert Hall.  I’m going to keep that one in my bucket list!


We’re home for 2 days before we head off to Great Grandma’s 90th birthday celebration in Hilton Head—the WHOLE family of 19 will be there!  Then Jim and I are heading to Niagara Falls and Canada (Toronto to the Maritimes) for a month.

Check back to see what mischief we find next!

Alberta

 

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