Part 1: Approaching the Arctic Circle
A summary of our 2018 Visit to England, Iceland and Greenland
Two of the places that we’ve never been are Iceland and Greenland. Anyone that we’ve talked with whose been to Iceland has had nothing but very nice memories of soaring landscapes, sea mammals and northern lights. We figured that if we were going to Iceland, that we might as well check out Greenland, and also use the occasion to visit good friends in England.
A Visit to Reykjavik, Iceland
After our visit with them, we took a 4-hour direct flight from Heathrow, London to Reykjavik, Iceland, and were met at the airport by our taxi driver who took us the 45-minute drive to our hotel located on the outskirts of town. Here, we met our tour guide, Heiddis (pronounced Hath-deese), a middle-aged single mom of one teenage son, who has been working in the tourism industry for a long time. After checking-in, we took a private walk to the shore located a few blocks away. The name of the city “Reykjavik” means “Bay of Smoke” and describes the city’s location and weather perfectly. The day was cloudy and drizzling, but the cool air felt crisp and refreshing. After returning to the hotel, Heiddis took our group into downtown via the city bus, for an orientation walk through town. After a wander past the popular “Penis Museum”, we walked to Langordatur – Iceland’s first indoor swimming pool built in 1937. From there, it was on to the impressive largest church in Iceland, Hallgrimskirkja, then to the Parliament building, and the City Hall by the Pond of Reykjavik. After a quick bakery stop, we walked on to a monument to Iceland’s first settler before bussing back to the hotel for “Happy Hour” and our Welcome Orientation and a dinner of Arctic Char.
Monday morning started with the hotel’s breakfast buffet before we city-bussed back into town to the Ocean Cluster House located in the city’s old harbor area, for an interesting presentation with Villi about the fishing industry in Iceland. While waiting to meet with him, we were lucky enough to meet with a local fisherman who was unloading his weekend’s catch of monkfish, cobia and cod. Villi spoke of improved sustainability and utilization of their fishing industry’s cod catch, and we observed a range of products, such as design lamps and leather jackets, not to mention getting a chance to taste dried fish, cod liver oil, pensyme and canned cod liver. While there, we had a lively discussion about Iceland’s whaling industry. After this, we visited the National Museum to learn about the history of Iceland from 850 AD to the present. This was followed by a lunch of fish & chips, and then a small group of us went by bus to the Perlan Museum for “The Wonders of Iceland” display. The museum had a number of interactive displays that highlighted the forces of nature (volcanos, earthquakes and geothermal energy) and included a walk through a full-size, real ice cave and a life-scale seabird cliffside. From there, we caught the bus back to the Harpa (Reykjavik’s Concert Hall), whose glass wall is made from a series of concentric hexagons, representing the basalt columns that characterize the island. From here, it was back to the hotel for a Happy Hour social, dinner and packing for tomorrow’s journey west.