Our eight-day trip through the land of fire and ice started in the capital city of Reykjavik. Iceland is a country of only 300,000 people but its tourism industry is absolutely booming right now. As we wandered around the city on a Thursday afternoon, the streets were filled with people; and every store we went into was overflowing with tourists.
We started our day at the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church. Even though we were being pelted with cold rain, we stood outside in awe at this house of worship's architecture. The inside of the church was just as beautiful as the outside. The large chapel was filled with sounds from giant organ pipes. The sounds bounced off the high-arched ceiling and stained glass windows as a church member played.
After we sat and took in the beautiful notes, we went back outside to see the statue out front. Viking history and memories of Leif Erickson are found all over the country, but it is especially prominent in the capitol city. After reading the commemoration to the country’s most famous explorer we headed to the Sun Voyager Structure to see more monuments to explorers.
The abstract, stainless steel structure is on the Atlantic Ocean and portrays the native roots for exploration and discovery. The Sun Voyager was created to encompass the idea of new lands yet to be found and the promise of home, freedom, and progress; and it does a wonderful job expressing these sentiments. From the structure we could see the Harpa Concert Hall which was our next stop.
The modern design of the Harpa Concert Hall stands in contrast to the historic city that surrounds it. The design of the façade is very meticulous and strategically planned. The more I read into the architecture behind the oblong hexagonal sides, the more interesting the building became. They were created to mimic the basalt columns that are famous to the country, and each polyhedron fits together perfectly.
Some panes seem to be random, but they are strategically placed to reflect sunlight in different ways during different times of the day and year. Unfortunately, you cannot see the inside of the concert hall without purchasing a tour. There was an upcoming performance, so we weren’t able to see the concert hall itself.
We had worked up quite an appetite by this point, so we went on a hunt for what we had heard were Reykjavik’s best hotdogs. After a quick walk around the Old Harbor, we found the small station that is Bajarins Beztu Pulsur, and we were so glad we did. Our bellies were filled with cheesy hot dogs and coca cola just as celebrities like Anthony Bourdain's, Bill Clinton's, and Princess Diana's had been before.
At this point, we had done almost all of the things to do in the city that I had seen online, but we kept strolling around looking at street art and brightly colored buildings. We were glad we kept wandering, because we stumbled upon the Arcade & Toy Museum. The entrance is underground and barely visible from the street. For a small price, roughly $10 a person, we played old-school games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Street Fighter, and pinball for 30 fun-filled minutes.
When our time was up, we walked across the street to check out some heavy metal punk music that we could hear coming from across the street. The noise was coming from the underground Punk Museum; but since we had just paid for the arcade games, we chose not to pay the entrance fee. Instead, we kept walking around and stumbled upon the last thing I had on our loosely planned itinerary, The Lebowski Bar.
We only stayed at this great, cult-movie themed bar for a few beers then went back on a quest for an inexpensive bite to eat. Weirdly enough, we ended up in the Irish Pub, because it was advertising cheap fish and chips. That’s all I wanted for dinner, and we decided it was time to head to our Airbnb and get a good night’s sleep after filling up on good beer and decent food.
Before we caught the bus home, we grabbed desert at the Volcano Crepes food truck at the bus stop. We topped our night off with a Nutella, chocolate, banana, and strawberry crepe. We got on the bus and knew our trip was going to be great based off our day in the city.