Iceland, Reykjavik – Towers and Trains

Reykjavikk Skyline from Hallgrímskirkja,

With a clear sky we were hopeful that after returning from the restaurant that we might be able to see the Northern Lights but even if they were there then the lights from the city were way to bright for them to be visible so we went to bed disappointed,

In complete contrast to the weather on the previous two days there was a magnificent blue sky in the morning – as I woke I sensed sunlight leaking into the room around the edges of the curtains and from the hotel bedroom window Reyjkavik looked much more cheerful in the sunshine and without its heavy overcoat of grey cloud and gloom with which we had become familiar.

And so before leaving we agreed to have one last walking tour of the city which is the World’s most northerly capital ( the most southerly capital is Wellington, New Zealand) and is the twin city of Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki in Scandinavia as well as Moscow  in Russia and (surprisingly) close to me in the United Kingdom, Kingston-upon-Hull.

After breakfast we checked out and stored our luggage and then walked into the city to see the parts we had missed on the first day and Mike was particularly keen to show his railway engine discovery to Kim and Margaret.  We had liked the Sólfar Suncraft so much the first time that we made for the seafront again and made a second visit there before we walked further along the promenade towards the docks until finding our progress barred by road works where underground heating pipes were being installed we abandoned this route and turned instead towards the city centre. 

There were some bright new recently constructed buildings that reflected the new wealth of Iceland standing close to the older buildings and houses that were utilitarian grey but enlivened by gay coloured aluminium cladding, not gentle pastel shades like those in eastern Europe but strong vibrant primaries, reds, yellows and blues that were presumably chosen deliberately to cheer up long cold winter days. 

Hallgrímskirkja, Reyjkavik Iceland

Maintaining property must be a nightmare here and the timber must require constant attention as in many places the bony fingers of winter frost had mischievously picked away at peeling paintwork allowing the damp to penetrate the wood underneath with no doubt dire and irreversible consequences.  I like to repaint my house every twenty years or so whether it needs it or not but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they have to do this painful operation twice a year in Reykjavik at least!

As the sky was so clear and we could guarantee excellent views we returned now to Hallgrímskirkja, the Lutheran Cathedral and the tallest building in the city which took nearly forty years to build and was consecrated in 1986.  The design is said to be based on a geyser plume or a lava flow but if you ask me it looks more like a space shuttle about to blast off  but it is nice enough inside and the signature piece is a twenty-five tonne organ with 5,275 pipes and someone was in there this morning practising on it.

Our main purpose for visiting the cathedral however was not to visit the interior but to take the lift to the observation tower at the top of the seventy-three metre tall tower.  It cost 700 krona (about £3) and it was worth every one because from the top there were glorious uninterrupted views in all directions, to the sea in the west, the glaciers in the north, the islands in the south and the ragged coastline to the east and we stayed at the top for several minutes enjoying the views.

Back at the bottom we walked to what I suppose you might call the old town, the site of the original Viking settlement and the administrative centre of Reykjavik with the Parliament building, the President’s official residence and the Government buildings and as we walked Mike carefully nudged us towards the port area for a second inspection of the railway engine.

The docks were busy this morning with cargo ships unloading, the tugs making their way in and out of port and some brave (crazy) men on a training vessel practising some rescue procedures and taking it in turn to one by one jump into the icy cold waters.  Our route took us past the conference centre where exhibitors were packing away their Arctic Energy Conference displays and it looked quite empty now.

Our time in Reyjkavik was coming to an end so we enjoyed one last walk along the waterfront as far as Sólfar Suncraft and then walked back in the direction of the hotel stopping on the way at the little café that we liked for coffee and cake and then to be reunited with the little Chevrolet Spark that we collected from the hotel car park and then left the city in the direction of Keflavik, the airport, the Blue Lagoon and our final hotel.

Sólfar suncraft Reykjavik Iceland

54 responses to “Iceland, Reykjavik – Towers and Trains

  1. Could I get a follow? Ilove your blog


  2. Sorry to see the tales from Iceland wrapping up. A country which I had never consideried traveling to until your posts Andrew. Thank you. Besides I want to go just so I can turn down the rental car volcano insurance. 🙂


  3. Damn, I knew I should have got a shot of that viking ship exactly end on!


  4. Nice post, Andrew. Very well written 🙂


  5. Were Reykjavik roads easy to navigate? I suppose parking not really a problem there?


  6. The houses are delightful in their bright colors but I can’t imagine either, the bad relationship of dampness and wood.


  7. I just recently discussed with my husband my desire to visit Iceland soon. I’ve heard it’s absolutely stunning and the driving trips around the country are also beautiful. Is there a recommended time of year to visit? I don’t mind cold but I bet that also means limited daylight hours, being so north.


    • Well, I am no expert on timing, I have been twice in the Autumn and that was ok with about 8 hours daylight and it is supposed to be one of the best times to see the Northern Lights. I am considering going again in the summer and driving completely around the island but I think Winter would be fun too.


  8. Our Adventure in Croatia

    have seen some Icelandic panoramas in a couple of movies recently and it looks so different country… it was not on my list but I am re-considering…


  9. Must be about time to paint your house again, Andrew? 🙂


  10. Great post. The cathedral does look like a space ship. The sculpture in your last photo is beautiful. Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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  14. I never knew. My son took his wife on honeymoon to Iceland and also took a wetsuit and surfboard. But he didn’t take any photos. At least not that I’ve seen. So thanks for all that.


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  17. I think that has to be a pretty unique church. I have never seen any like it!


  18. Space shuttle – for sure.


  19. Beautiful photo of the cathedral…lovely with the blue sky!


  20. Great memories.. Packed fish in an eastern village many moons ago.. The only time I have ever caught a plane and they forgot the airhostesses behind. We had to re land to pick them up.. 😉


  21. Wonder why they call them twin cities, they usually bear no resemblance except I suppose for San Francisco and Sydney,
    We got the Harbour and a big bridge and they got a bay and a big bridge.and both speak a variation of the English language


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  23. Still shocks me a bit when I come across a comment from ElBob. It’s like he’s still around . . . and I suppose he lives on in the comments of many posts.


  24. Yes, it sounds like a place where you would need to paint your house as often as every 10-12 years. But if you saw the Northern Lights, that would make up for it.


  25. Ah, Iceland has been on my Must Visit list for a while and you’ve done nothing to dissuade me.


  26. This is one that has really sparked a lot of special interest. We often think of Iceland as being just a place for the eskimos. In Australia we think of Hobart as being as close to the Pole as you would want to get. And from there it is just freezing icy ocean until you get to Antarctica. But Reykjavik is over 2000 kilometres further. It is difficult to comprehend.


  27. I imagine the views from the Lutheran Church were really spectacular, Andrew. And I laughed about crazy “practicing some rescue procedures ” in the icy waters. Our son Tony was required to jump in the waters off of Kodiak Island and do a swimming test every year as part of his annual recertification in the Coast Guard. –Curt


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