Sunday, 20 February 2011

Iceland Trip Day 1

Unfortunately because the weather had turned so bad the evening trip to see the Northern Lights was cancelled. The good news being that we were to get a second chance the following night.

There is little decoration, in line with Lutheran tradition. The most famous feature of the interior is the huge organ built in Germany in 1992, boasting a 50-foot-tall case and 5,275 pipes.

The weather by now had turned really bleak with driving sleet and rain.
We sought sanctuary in Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim's Church) the tallest and most striking church in Iceland.
A Lutheran parish church, Hallgrimskirkja is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614-74).Rising 74.5 m (244 ft), Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest building in Iceland. It is situated in the city center and has become one of Reykjavík's best known symbols.
The interior is more traditional, but its modern-meets-Gothic lines are still reminiscent of ice formations
The church took 38 years to build (1945-86), the tower being completed long before the church's actual completion.




I couldn't resist trying on an authentic Viking Helmet , it was at this point Marina deserted me!







The figurines were incredibly lifelike with an incredible amount of detail going into them. They have hair on their arms, sweat on their brows and one figure even "breathes."

Guðmundur góði Benefactor of the People



We were heading for the Saga Museum, a sort of Madam Tussauds of Icelandic history.

The Saga Museum is situated in Perlan, a stunning building high on the hilltop giving some spectacular views across the city as we walked.

Ingólfu Arnarson - The First Icelander


It really was cold with the wind coming off the sea making it worse so it was a relief to get in the centre.
Reykjavik the capital and largest city of Iceland. Its latitude at 64°08' N makes it the world's northernmost capital of a sovereign state. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói Bay. With a population of around 120,000. It is believed to be the location of the first permanent settlement in Iceland, which Ingólfur Arnarson is said to have established around 870.
The story goes that Ingólfur Arnarson decided the location of his settlement using a traditional Viking method; by dumping his high seat pillars in the ocean when he saw the coastline and then settled where the pillars came to shore.
Steam from hot springs in the region is supposed to have inspired Reykjavík's name, as Reykjavík loosely translates to "Bay of Smokes".


The City centre was only a short walk away so we took the scenic route via the waters edge. We soon came across the striking Sólfar or Sun Voyager Viking ship statue. Made of metal, this is amodernised version of the ships Vikings used to conquer a big part of the northern hemisphere. It is made by artist Jon Gunnar Arnason and looks dramatic with the Icelandic mountain background.



Architecturally poor,not a magnificent city,the weather can be rather grey,drab apartment blocks and a haphazard transport system. Not my words but the opening lines from Thomas Cooks pocket guide to Reykjavik. Hardly inspiring stuff until I remind myself what we are here for 'The Northern Lights'. The holy grail of things I want to see along with the giant stone heads on Easter Island of course.

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