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hieronyma Reykjavik - A travel report by Christl
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Reykjavik,  Iceland - flag Iceland -  Gullbringusysla
3857 readers

hieronyma's travel reports

Iceland – a child’s dream fulfilled

  13 votes
Page: 1 2
Some 55 years ago a book, a gift of my mother, let me dream of Iceland, way-out north, secluded, mysterious, an entity in itself. I read of Vikings, fighting for power, for freedom, for survival. In June 1999, when spring was late, the dream came true.


Reykjavi, Hallgrimskirkja
Reykjavi, Hallgrimskirkja
It all started with Reykjavik, founded as ‚smoky bay‘ in 874 by a true Viking. Fugitives followed who – in opposition to the Norwegian oppressive monarchy – choose Thingvellir, ‚the assembly plain‘, as location for the Althing, the National Assembly, where every year the people met to decide political questions, to administer justice, to do business, to sozialize. Christianity by decree in 999 sustained the unity of the country, which in 1262 fell to Norway, subsquently to Denmark. Augustinian monks arrived and prospered. 1550 Lutheranism was introduced and Reykjavik became the Islandic religious centre. The Cathlic bishop was executed in Skaholt. Danish rule was hard and stifling. Between the 14th and 18th centuries disasters hit: Earthquakes, severe winters, crop failure, volcanoes like Hekla and Katla erupted continuously for months. People starved and died to the thousands, but didn’t leave. In the mid 1700s the fight of hundred years against the Danish Trade Monopoly of 1602 started. 1786 Reykjacik got its charter as market town and finally free trade was restored. In the early 1800s after five centuries of oppression under foreign rule growing nationalism led to the Act of Unity with Denmark, granting inner sovereignty, finally to the formal establishment of the Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944 at Thingvellir. Reykjavik developed as Iceland’s capital with all the necessary political, religious and educational functions: The Thingvellir Althing and the Skaholt bishopric were moved to town, a courthouse, a prison were built, a university was founded, Danish trading companies arrived. Today it has all the attractions a citizen can wish for. The distinctiveness of the Icelandic people is not only protected by its geographical isolation. The strong will to save its tradition, its history, its language, result e.g. in that medievial literature can still be read by everyone without a dictionary. Therewith the identity of the people is saved.

Favourite spots:
Iceland, Thingvellir
Iceland, Thingvellir
As I arrived the town was foggy and grey, returning three months later there was sun over the snowy mountains – what a difference. Laugavegir with low built colourful houses and small shops leads to the old town’s square Austurvöllar with the Althing, where at Independence Day friendly people in national costumes were enjoying themselves, they even spoke German! At the lake Tjörnin in the Listasafn Islands (National Gallery) originally an ice house with a modern addition a small collection of landscapes and abstract paintings of Islandic artists in strong, clear colours is a pleasure to look at. Behind it in the Àrni–Magnusson–Insti-tute saga enthusiasts will love the treasures of old books like the Landnámabók, the Íslendingabók and the Njáls Saga, taken to Copenhagen in 1702, returned to Iceland in 1971. The garden of sculptures by Einar Jonssonar in Njardagatan is an enchanted place. In Hallgrimskirkja with the view of the town an organ recital filled the light interior.

What's really great:
Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall
Iceland, Gullfoss Waterfall
Golden Circle Tour: In Hveragerthi in a valley of hot springs and fissures Iceland’s greenhouse agriculture exploits this geothermal heat. An Icelander considers a tree what is about 30 cm high! Reforesting the treeless country is succseeful but expensive. Trees are imported from countries with similar climate. Kernith, a round crater with deep-blue, clear water, dominates the view. The white church on a wharf at Skaholt I saw from faraway. Under deep hanging clouds snow-covered mountains showed, but not the Hekla. Here the first bishopric and the nation’s educational and religious centre was established. Gullfoss Waterfall: The river Hvitá drops 32m in two falls into a deep canyon. The Great Geysir is silent, but nearby Strokkur spits out a watercolumn of 20m every three minutes. The earth steams and boils. Thingvellir: The seat of the original Althing, centre of Iceland, confirmation of its identity. Here Iceland drifts apart 1cm a year, certainly becoming a continent in due time.

Sights:
Iceland, The famous Horses
Iceland, The famous Horses
On a rainy, snowy day I went by bus by way of Hvolvöllur to Húsadalur in the valley of Thorsmörk, at this time of the year a black valley, surrounded by snow-covered mountains where the tongue of the Eyafjallajökul glacier reaches the bottom of the valley. This is hiker’s paradise.

Accommodations:
Iceland, Thorsmörk, when spring is late.
Iceland, Thorsmörk, when spring is late.
Reykjavik:
Guesthouse Regina
Mjölnholt 14
105 Reykjavik

Thorsmörk:
Húsadalur/Assa
Don’t go on weekends, it’s packed.
There are also campingplaces, not too many though.

Hangouts:
Iceland, Strokkur
Iceland, Strokkur
Café Paris
Austurstraeti 14

Dubliners
Hafnarstraeti 4

Kaffi Reykjavi
Vesturgata 2

Restaurants:
Iceland, Early Spring Flowers
Iceland, Early Spring Flowers
Restaurants

Tiu Droppar
Laugarvegur 27

Kaffi Húsid
Kringlan 8-12

Listasafn Íslands-Kaffi
Fríkirkjuvegir 7

Caruso
Thingholtstraeti 1

Jonathan Livingston Restaurant Mávur
Tryggvagata 4-6

Hotel Esja
Sudurlandsbraut 2

Brasserie Borg
Pósthússtraeti 11

Perlan
the dome on top of the Öskjuhlith watertank, a revolving restaurant with a view and an artificial geysir, but expensive

Other recommendations:
Iceland, Kernith Crater
Iceland, Kernith Crater
Other recommodations:

BSI Travel at the long-distance bus terminal organised my whole trip and all the tours. I was very content with them.

Internet without paying:
Borgarbokastafú (Museum of books = Public Library)
Thgingholt straeti 19a
Make appointment

Don’t forget to go swimming in the pools of town, I didn’t try the Blue Lagoon.

Published on Thursday February 15th, 2007


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Fri, Feb 16 2007 - 08:26 PM rating by mistybleu

That picture of the crater is beautiful, an amazing collection of pictures.

Fri, Feb 16 2007 - 10:52 AM rating by marianne

Interesting background information and lovely photos, especially the spewing geyser

Fri, Feb 16 2007 - 08:56 AM rating by davidx

Very interesting and informative.

Fri, Feb 16 2007 - 05:45 AM rating by rangutan

This far better than my report, and in summer too!

Thu, Feb 15 2007 - 02:28 PM rating by travler

This was a neat report. I learned a lot from reading it. The picture at Strokkur was fabulous.

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