Falling in Love with Reykjavik

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Wow, sorry this is so late!  Late nights and plane flights have definitely kept us busy, but I should be updating more frequently from now on.  This post will be from Day 2 of our Europe trip 🙂  I also managed to forget my memory card that day, so it’s all phone pictures for this one.  Good thing I finally have a phone that’s caught up with the times and can take reasonable photos.

We started off the day on the hunt for bus tickets and the bus stop that would take us to Reykjavik.  Turns out this involved walking uphill in a couple feet of snow and then jaywalking across a highway.  Workout for the day?  Check.

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After the hour-long journey to Reykjavik, we intended to grab food because we were starving, but the first thing we saw was the frozen Tjörnin pond with people walking on it.  So obviously, we had to join them.  And of course, I managed to fall on my butt trying to be fancy and do a turn.

One edge of the pond was melted at this point of the day.  Tons of geese and ducks were in the water feasting on the mounds of bread people threw towards them.  This is also when I found out Li is terrified of birds and bird poop.  If you see more pictures of birds later on, you’ll know it’s because I tried to drag him towards them to make fun of him.

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After frolicking on the lake for a while and stopping by the tourist information center to pick up maps, we finally made it into the city for some food.  It was freezing outside, so we ducked into the first place we found that wasn’t titled “American Bar.”  It turned out to be a little Pakistani curry shop, but everything in Iceland is crazy expensive so we ended up grabbing the cheapest option: curry in a hurry.  It was to go only, so we ended up eating outside in the freezing cold anyway.  Go figure.

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As we wandered around eating, we kept seeing school children dressed up in costume walking by carrying bags for candy, like Halloween except in March.  Apparently, in Iceland, it’s a tradition for children to dress up and go around to various stores and companies to sing for candy on Ash Wednesday.  It supposedly stems from an older tradition of playing pranks on people by hanging bags of ash from their clothing.  Wherever the tradition came from, these kids had some pretty impressive costumes.

After lunch, we did our own mini walking tour of the city.  Our first stop was the Parliament building.  Since Reykjavik is a smaller city, the Parliament building was definitely smaller than we expected, and we couldn’t go in, but we did walk through the snow-covered garden in the back.

From there, we moved on to Harpa Concert Hall.  In contrast to the main downtown area of the city, this building was gigantic and very modern.

Tourists were allowed to walk around this one, and the inside was just as impressive, if not more impressive, than the outside.  The patterns of glass and colors felt as if they were changing with every turn and in each corner of the building there was something different to see.

Just past the concert hall along the coast is a viewpoint with a viking boat statue which we stopped by on our way to Hallgrímskirkja, a church that is one of the main landmarks of Reykjavik.

 

In front of the church is a statue of Leif Eriksson.  This statue was a gift from the U.S. during the millenial celebration of Iceland’s parliament (Alþingi), one of the oldest parliamentary institutions in the world.

 

We ended the day in Reykjavik with Icelandic hot dogs (usually offered in a combo package with Coke, although in our opinions it was way too cold for that).  The hot dogs are served with fresh onions, fried onions, Icelandic mayo, Icelandic ketchup, and Icelandic mustard (sweet and brown).

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And, of course, getting dragged into taking more pictures on the ice because I guess my earlier pictures weren’t good enough.

To finish off the day, we went out aurora hunting around 9 PM.  We ran around the neighborhood, watching streaks of green light appear and just as quickly disappear in different parts of the sky.  Eventually, we stopped by a house on the corner of the street as one streak got stronger,becoming a white-purple and dancing in a thick band across the sky.  The whole experience was by far the most magical moment of the trip so far – we’ll see if Iceland can outdo itself when we get back, but until then, it’s off to the U.K. for us!

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