I felt like I’d gotten through most of my photos in part 1 and part 2, but there are still so many… Iceland is a very photogenic country 🙂 Today I’m sharing the places we visited in Reykjavik. First up, Hallgrímskirkja, which is beautiful inside and out, and has great views of the city from the top (access is via a lift and then around 20 steps).
I was also ridiculously impressed by these ingenious pews, which can be easily flipped so that the congregation can face either the organ or the pulpit end.
Next up is Harpa, aka the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen. It’s a conference centre and concert hall, jutting out into the harbour and shining different colours when the sun hits it.
A very unique visit was the Penis Museum… yes, you read that correctly! “A collection of more than two hundred and fifteen penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland” – including humans! A relatively small museum, but fairly cheap (1,250 ISK, which is around £6), entertaining, interesting and certainly unique. As well as specimens in tanks, they have all sorts of household decorations and functional items made either out of or in the shape of penises, a cast of all the members (ha, pun intended) of the Icelandic handball team who won silver in the Beijing Olympics, and a letter from the man with the longest penis ever measured, which they seem to have proudly taken as confirmation that he will be donating when he dies, but which I’m pretty sure is a polite no 😉
We also visited Volcano House, which is a little cinema showing regular screenings of documentaries on Iceland’s volcano eruptions. The documentaries are exclusively made for Volcano House, and are really well-made, informative and insightful. There is also a small geology exhibit to look at while you wait for the next screening.
Reykjavik has some really nice art galleries – unfortunately I don’t remember exactly which ones we visited but there is a little of everything, from abstract to photography to advertising cartoons to Spanish civil war paintings, and we had fun interacting with these exhibits:
Last but not least, we went on a whale watching tour with Elding. For some back story here, my family and I often go to Gairloch in the Scottish Highlands for a break, and every time they go out on a boat without me, they see whales and dolphins and seals and all sorts of lovely things. Every time I go with them, we see absolutely nothing, except one time we saw a dead minke whale washed up on a small rocky island 😦 So imagine my delight when I went out with Elding and we actually saw whales! Plural! Alive! Up close, and jumping, and waving their tails and blowing out of their blow holes. I was so excited. Our tour guide was fantastic, I absolutely loved the Icelandic sense of humour – “If it gets a bit choppy, hold on to something, but make sure it’s something that’s attached to the boat. If you hold on to someone else, you’ll probably both fall over, and at least one of you will be annoyed.” 😀 A boat ride gave another beautiful perspective of Reykjavik and the Icelandic landscape. We had a beautiful sunny day and could see for miles, but it was still very cold and at times it was difficult to see the whales especially if they were out ahead of the boat, as everyone would rush to the best viewpoint, but the captain would always swing the boat around whenever he could so that the whales were to one side and we could all see. As well as the captain and guide, there were several Elding spotters and some marine biologists on board, so we had plenty of expert pairs of eyes. Below decks they have a little cafe where you can warm up, and they also keep a record there of their sightings, including a guidebook of the regular whales, complete with names and identifying features. On the way back to shore the rain came down so we took shelter below, and I listened in as a group of Germans quizzed one of the members of staff and she gave very thorough answers. They really know their stuff and are very passionate. (I didn’t get any photos of the whales by the way, partly because I was too busy giddily staring at them, and also because the sightings were out in the open water so we were rocking quite a lot on the waves.)