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Clare
Clare

Day 2: Reykjavik

Today was our day for exploring Reykjavik. After a not very nutritious breakfast of some of the jaffa cakes and jammie dodgers we'd brought with us in our suitcase (supermarkets here don't seem to open until 12 on a Sunday!) we set off to walk into the town before 9am. It was dry at the point we left the apartment, although it looked like it had been raining quite heavily overnight, and slightly warmer than yesterday at 10 degrees.

We had a few kilometres to cover from our apartment to the town centre, and decided to try and follow a different route to the one we'd taken from the bus station yesterday, for the sake of variety. So it was that after about 20 minutes or so, we were walking along one of the main streets into the city centre and came across the rather bizarre "Icelandic Phallological Museum" :o This was not somewhere which was on my list of must-see sights in Reykjavik, but Tim's attention was soon caught by the fact that the name of the museum was translated into Esperanto!

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We have absolutely no idea why! We've since found out from someone on Facebook that all the explanations of the exhibits inside are translated into Esperanto as well, but apparently it wasn't recommended as an official excursion destination when the World Esperanto Congress last took place in Iceland in 2013.

Not long after the museum, we caught our first glimpse of the sea down one of the side streets and had to follow it to take a look.

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When we got to the waterfront, the views were really beautiful :)

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We could see quite a long way, despite the fact that it was cloudy.

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And in fact, in the direction of the city centre it looked like it was brightening up :) 

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We carried on walking alongside the water and soon came across a sculpture known as 'The Sun Voyager'.

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It kind of looks like a cross between a Viking ship and an antler :D 

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Shortly after this we came to the rather unusual Harpa conference centre, which is where the World Esperanto Congress was held in 2013.

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From there we turned inland, passing a series of pretty parks and squares. Flowers and trees are somewhat of a rarity in Iceland (because the climate is generally too harsh), so we were impressed to see these.

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We passed the Icelandic Prime Minister's office, which is a rather unassuming building.

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We were definitely in the centre of town now, and there were lots of colourful buildings.

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Some of them wouldn't have looked out of place in Rauma :) 

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We were walking towards a place called Tjörnin, or "the pond".

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This is a lake, right in the centre of the city, and it's home to lots of ducks, geese and swans.

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Calling it a pond makes it sound quite small, but it's actually a reasonable size and took us a while to walk around.

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This church is called the Fríkirkjan, and was opened in 1903.

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As we progressed around the perimeter of the lake, we also got a glimpse of Reykjavik's most famous church: the Hallgrímskirkja.

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There's a park surrounding the lake which contains quite a lot of sculptures.

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Some were more disturbing than others!

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My favourite view was this one, when we realised we could see the reflection of the Fríkirkjan in the water :) 

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The weather had become really sunny at this point and it almost felt warm!

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We decided to make the most of it and climb up towards the Hallgrímskirkja.

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At 74.5 metres high, this is the largest church in Iceland and can apparently be seen from 20 miles away.

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The church was commissioned in 1937, with construction starting in 1945 and not finishing until 1986.

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It was deliberately designed to be enormous, so that it outshone Reykjavik's Catholic cathedral.

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It's certainly very impressive! Outside the church, there is also a statue of the explorer Leif Erikson.

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The weather was so sunny at this point that we decided to walk back down to the coast and see whether the views were any clearer.

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It did look really beautiful in the sunshine :)

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The weather changes quickly here though, and it soon started to get cloudier once again. We walked back into the city centre and soon found ourselves in a small square with these two rather strange pillars, which seemed to be emitting steam.

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The explanation was only in Icelandic so we have no idea what they represented, although this one said something about 874 (which was the year Iceland was first settled).

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We were trying to walk around the old harbour at this point, but it began to rain torrentially and we got rather wet. As we made our way back towards the shopping district in the search for somewhere to have lunch, we caught sight of another church.

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It turns out that this is Iceland's Catholic cathedral, which was consecrated in 1929.

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It was the largest church in Iceland for a while, before it was subsequently outdone by the Hallgrímskirkja!

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It was definitely lunchtime by this point and we were starving! We began walking around Reykjavik and looking at menus, trying to get a feel for what the going rate was for food. It seemed like around £20 was standard for a main course.

We eventually found a nice restaurant where I was able to have pizza, and Tim had what he said was one of the best fish and chips he'd ever had in his life :)

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This, together with my 7up (Tim was frugal and drank tap water) set us back about £46. Iceland makes Finland feel cheap xD

It continued to pour with rain throughout the meal and it was still pretty wet once we ventured outside again. We had a bit of a stroll along Reykjavik's main street, enjoying another view of the Hallgrímskirkja.

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Then we decided that we were wet enough for one day and that we'd better begin the long walk back to the apartment, to dry off and warm up.  This involved having our first showers in Reykjavik, which was an "interesting" experience.  The cold tapwater here is perfectly normal, but as soon as you turn on the hot water tap you get a very funny sulphuric smell. It's something to do with the fact that the hot water here comes from the ground and is heated geothemally. The smell is just about okay while you're washing your hands, but once you turn the shower on there is a really overpowering smell of sulphur :o By the time I'd finished washing my hair, the bathroom basically smelled like the volcanic area at Furnas in the Azores!

We relaxed in the apartment for a while, before heading out for another walk when the weather brightened up in the early evening. I'd seen on the map that there was a park not far from where we were staying, so thought it might be worth a visit. It actually turned out not to be terribly exciting, although we did find some more flowers :) 

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Never mind, we've had a really exciting day in Reykjavik (the world's northernmost capital city!), so we can't complain :) 

Edited by Clare

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