Jul 16, 2006

Meeting Iceland

Note: You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them!

6 a.m., and I see Iceland for the first time. As we descend through the low cloud cover I can see the outline of the coast through the fog. It's an emotional moment for me, and not because of the golf course (which you can barely see at the bottom of the picture).

The trip from the airport, in our rental car, takes us across a huge lava field with outlandish lava formations that seem even stranger in the fog. It takes us 45 minutes to reach the capital city of Reykjavik, which contains about 200,000 people (two-thirds of the total population of Iceland).

Reykjavik is situated on a large bay, and features many hills. Our overwhelming impression is of color: vibrant houses in intense, saturated hues, metal roofs of dark red or green, blue sky and sea, lots of flowers (which seem to be on steroids: I've never seen such large dandelions or lupines). Even when it is raining, Reykjavik never appears dull. The city offers a lot of visual texture, with corrugated iron siding complementing wood board and batten siding, roof lines of many shapes, and all kinds of architectural details.

But enough about Reykjavik! What about us, the Icelandic Neophytes? Over the next two weeks we will never see John without his daypack, which conveniently has a pocket for his notebook, pen and pencils.

Click on picture to enlarge:

During the course of the day we investigate a variety of coffee shops. The theme for the day is rain, rain, rain and coffee, coffee, coffee! Fortunately the rain seldom lasts for long, but it ingrains in us a habit that will last the entire trip: we never go anywhere without either wearing our rain jackets, or having them tucked into our daypacks.

We return to Three Sisters Guesthouse where, we had been told: "We, and Iceland, will take care of you." Sonja and Thor show us to a comfortable room slightly below street level with lots of windows, room for 4, its own bath, and best of all a kitchen! We wake Peter up and move in. Three Sisters is right in City Centre, the historical part of town. You can walk everywhere, and the picture shows how close we are to the harbor.

We spend our first day getting acclimated. We buy food at the grocery store and walk all over town. We find the Tourist Office, the banks, the bookstore, and the landmark Hotel Borg (like a trip back to the 1930's with its art decco designs).

Peter meets up with some Icelanders and finds that hacky sack is an international language.

Late in the evening John, Gabe and I walk along the shore that borders the city. We encounter some women who tell us about an art exhibit they have just installed in a lighthouse offshore that can only be reached during low tide.

Light extends the day--night and darkness never come--and it is difficult to go to bed with the late evening light beckoning. These two pictures were taken at about 11:00 in the evening:

Iceland High Today: 52°F
Low 46°F

1 comment:

John said...

What a handsome family you have!

I'd like to see scans of an Icelandic map for the areas you visited. That way we can also check on your spelling.