Things That I Have Learned In Reykjavik, Iceland

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Things That I Have Learned In Reykjavik, Iceland

“Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer” – Unknown

Reykjavík is the northernmost capital city in the world.

Reykjavík is regarded as the world’s most sustainable city. The city plans to be a carbon neutral city by 2040.

The steam rising from the area’s hot springs gave Reykjavik its name, which literally translates to “Cove of Smokes,” or more eloquently ” Smoky Bay.

Towering over the Reykjavik skyline is Hallgrimskirkja, a 240-foot tall Evangelical Lutheran church. The building which resembles volcanic basalt lava columns, opened in 1986. It is the tallest building in the city—as well as the second tallest in the entire country.

The National Museum of Iceland is the place to go when you want to learn about Icelandic life through the centuries. Everything related to this island nation from belief and religion, to seafaring, farming, culture, costume and the development of trade relationships from the beginning to the present day. The exhibits are beautifully displayed in the various sections with lots of info. Audio displays tell some fascinating stories and computers give access to a wealth of additional facts. A photography exhibition is always on show.

One of the most popular foods in Iceland is hot dogs. There’s no better hot dog stand in Iceland to get them than at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. The kiosk has been in the Reykjavik harbor since 1937, but President Bill Clinton and Anthony Bourdain’s visit solidified its constant long line of locals and tourists waiting for the lamb-based hot dog doused in ketchup, mustard, remoulade (mayonnaise-based sauce with sweet relish), and both raw and fried onion. ”The president you have now, I wouldn’t serve a hot dog.”, said the owner.

The Saga Museum which features seventeen exhibits traces Icelandic history from the Norwegian exodus to the Black Death. It is now located  in a historic home on the Reykjavik harbor.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum is a must visit for those who are curious about penises – from whales to hamsters. It is located on the main shopping street in Reykjavik. I didn’t have time but I would I have loved to see all the tourists taking selfies. 

From mid-April until late August, the Atlantic puffins summer in Iceland! You can take a Puffin tour from Reykjavik but I saw them near Husavik.

They are cute little birds and definitely worth putting the red suits on (for warmth and flotation devices)  and taking a beautiful three hour tour. 

On October 8, 2007, John Lennon’s birthday Yoko Ono revealed an outdoor beam of light called the Inagine Peace Tower on the city’s Viðey Island in honor of her late husband. “I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give light to the strong wishes of World Peace from all corners of the planet. And give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion. Let us come together to realize a peaceful world,” Ono said. Now it is  lit from October 9 to December 8, December 21 to December 31, February 18, and March 20 to 27.

In 2011, Reykjavik was the fifth city named a City of  Literature by UNESCO, thanks to its “invaluable heritage of ancient medieval literature” and “the central role literature plays within the modern urban landscape.”

Let’s be real. People don’t come to Iceland to shop. They come for the nature, the waterfalls, the glaciers, and all the fun stuff you can do around Iceland.. Reykjavik is one of the most expensive cities.in Europe. However, you can find  cool, locally designed outerwear in many stores for similar  prices to your country. Every time you wear it, you will remember your time in Iceland. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Vikings And Sagas In Iceland

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Vikings and Sagas In Iceland

” Never break the peace which good men and true make between thee and others. Rjúf aldrei sætt þá er góðir menn gera meðal þín og annarra. ” The Saga of Njall

Vikings are a thing all over Iceland.

The hats with the horns sell in every souvenir shop. I hate to tell you people but the horns were a Hollywood invention that caught on. 

Was Iceland really even settled by Vikings? The term Viking applies to Scandinavian raiders. Now the people that settled in Iceland might have once been Vikings but when they came to Iceland there was no indigenous population to conquer, no churches and abbeys to sack for wealth and  no one to rape and pillage. They saw this beautiful country with no one to fight and they became farmers and landowners.

And then there are the Sagas- the classic literature of Iceland. They are stories written down from eleven hundred to thirteen hundred. They started off as a realistic representation of Iceland but the later ones are filled with dragons, maidens and sex.

The saga of Burned Njall is the most famous saga. It is written in the late 1300’s There are a lot of feuds and bad advice and everyone dies in the end – sounds like Shakespeare of the North. There is a cute street in Reykjavik named after it.

Everything is Iceland is Saga this or Viking that.  I’m not sure what they have to do with a hotel or a rental car.

But at least the Sagas actually existed in Iceland. They are  classic and legendary tales  and represent the history of the people of Iceland. Though trolls and ghosts are  featured, much of The Sagas remains grounded in reality.

They tell stories of farmers, families and fighters, lovers, warriors and kings, of betrayal and dilemmas, and which are, for the most part, believable and credible. Women play a strong role too. If you don’t at least read one when you visit, check out the Saga Museum in Reykjavik if for nothing else than historical accuracy.

Fly safe,

JAZ