After our rewarding but exhaustingly long day on Day 10, we spent the entire morning and into the early afternoon of Day 11 relaxing and being generally lazy (two things at which we both happen to excel). It was great. We finally decided after lunch that we needed to get out of the house. We jumped in the trust little Chevy Spark and drove into the capital city of Reykjavik to see some of the sights there. Reykjavik was about a 15-20 minute drive from our house by the sea, so it was really nice to not to have to spend a lot of time in the car.
After driving around the heart of Reykjavik for quite some time trying to find a FREE place to park (our Dutch roots run deep), we found a really nice (FREE) spot not too far from Hallgrímskirkja, which was what we most wanted to visit anyway. Yay for us!
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church with very impressive and unique architecture that is visible for miles in all directions. We had visited this church during our 2006 Iceland trip but were unable to go inside or up the bell tower because a wedding was taking place while we were there. We were very happy on this visit to find both the interior and the tower to be open to the public.
The construction of Hallgrímskirkja began in 1945 and took 36 years to complete. The building was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson to resemble the columnar basalt that can be found throughout Iceland.
The interior of Hallgrímskirkja lacks the ornate decoration of other large European churches but there is definite beauty in its minmalism.
The two things that stood out for me, however, were the rock crystal baptismal font and the beautiful pipe organ.
After wandering around inside for a bit, we purchased our tickets to take the elevator up to the bell tower. (The elevator sure beat the 387 steps up to the top of Notre Dame in Paris)! From the tower, you get a really great bird’s-eye-view of the city.
Next on the agenda was a bit of souvenir shopping. From Hallgrímskirkja we headed down Skólavörðustígur, which eventually meets up with Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main shopping street. One thing I noticed during this stroll that Reykjavik has a lot of interesting graffiti.
We hit pretty much every souvenir shop along the way and I must say that all of the shops had pretty much the same stuff so it got old fairly quickly.
On the way back to the car, we passed Hallgrímskirkja again and the sky was bluer and it was so much prettier that it had been earlier.
A note about the statue in the plaza in front of Hallgrímskirkja: The statue of Leif Erikson by Alexander Stirling Calder was a gift to Iceland from the United States in 1930 that commemorated the 1000th anniversary of Iceland’s parliament, established at Þingvellir in 930 AD.
Back at the house, I decided to go out again and look for a nearby geocache. (If you don’t know about geocaching, check it out HERE. It’s a lot of fun). It was quite an interesting drive to get there and when I came to a closed gate, I decided to continue on foot. Not a good idea. The whole area is apparently an Arctic Tern breeding ground and Arctic Terns do NOT take kindly to intruders. They’re actually quite vicious and frightening. They hover over your head screeching and then swoop down to attack your head. It’s the stuff of which nightmares are made.
After taking close to 30 videos of terns trying to kill me, I gave up on crossing that field to look for the geocache and headed back to the house. On the way back, I photographed some of the abundant bird life and another beautiful Icelandic horse.
Later on, after a delicious dinner of cheese and potato soup with broccoli and white wine (not sure if that’s the proper pairing, but… who cares?), I headed back down to the beach to watch another sunset over the Greenland Sea. It was not QUITE as spectacular as the sunset on our first day there, but definitely worth staying up for!
Thus ended Day 11. A few additional photos can be found HERE.