There is a building next to Kringlan mall in Reykjavík, which we call the "f... u" building. It is called "Hús Verslunarinnar" or the "Building of Commerce". It was built in the image of the fingers on a hand, but it is kind of unfortunate that it looks like the rude sign, I guess it was not done on purpose...
There is another building in Kópavogur, the town adjacent to Reykjavík, Smáralind mall, which from above looks like a phallus, VT blocks the other word for it here. It can be seen on photos taken from airplanes, I guess that was done on purpose as a joke? But that is just a guess - but there is no coincidence that it is referred to as the bigges phallus symbol in Iceland. I unfortunately don´t have a photo of the mall from above... but I found photos taken from above here. At Christmas time the mall is decorated with big Christmas balls - which we find hilarious. But that is just our dirty mind - the decorations are lovely.
Fondest memory: Thanks to VTer Regina, we were able to meet up with fellow Bostonian Steve (unmistakeable as he prowled the streets of Reykjavik in his Rob Gronkowski football jersey) and his wife Barb at the apartment they were renting at Reykjavik. Regina joined us of course, as did Regina's friend Ana from Slovenia. A balcony with a fine view on a sunny day, along with plentiful chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers... and generous portions of Steve's absolutely lethal cocktails... made for an unforgettable (un-rememberable? ;o)) time. What a way to end our stay in Iceland!
I happened to be walking past a Travel Agents window one day at work and I saw these signs saying something like 'Exciting Day Trips'. I half expected to see some bus travel to a nearby city. No, instead I saw Paris (OK), Barcelona (hmmm...), then Warsaw (oh?) and something that just jumped out at me:
Most people drive to the shopping mall on their day off. I am not, however, most people.
That was it. I went in a booked before I had any ideas of details - like what city/airport. As a matter of fact I missed this thanks to the stupidity of a work colleague (we sacked him the next year). Lucky for me the company paid for the next trip.
When they say 'day' they mean all day. The flight left from a distant airport at like 4am. Arrival at Reykjavik was straight onto the buses and a guided tour of the town and area. Then the best bit - a trip to the Blue Lagoon. Into the bath hot volcanic springs. Wow! I found myself sitting on a well positioned rock, slightly burning my bum and having a hair full of snow. Now that was awesome! Then out and the realisation that the sulphur content makes you stink! Plenty of soap was available though and we then were given 2 hours free time.
I ran around looking for a cheap souvenir (none) and bought some expensive ones. Then a mad dash up the hill to then climb The tower of Hallgrimskirkja on the top of Hallgrimur's Church.
And at the top I looked out the windows and could see - nothing. Absolutely nothing but white clouds.
2 minutes later - brilliant sunshine and I got some pictures. Welcome to Icelandic weather.
A mad dash for the bus, duty free vodka (best in the world!) and home late that night.
Sadly, as many of my stories end - they no longer do day trips of Iceland.
On Menningarnótt "Culture night", the third weekend in August 2010, our mayor elected the Reykjavík tree of 2010. The tree that was elected is a Swedish whitebeam (silfurreynir) and is believed to be the oldest tree in Reykjavík, planted in 1884 by Schierbeck, Director General of public health back then. The tree is 10,9 m high, which is a lot for trees here in Iceland :)
The tree stands in Fógetagarður or Governor's park (see my tip on the park), which is also called Víkurgarður cemetery, on the corner of Aðalstræti and Kirkjustræti.
My ancestors were the vikings and I have a straight blood-line to the first viking settlers here in Iceland. The first settler was Ingólfur Arnarson. He is the father of Reykjavík so to speak as he settled here in this then unspoilt place.
I have added more photos and information on my Viking and Irish ancestry in an album on my homepage.
Ingólfur Arnarson (844) Hallveig Fróðadóttir (850)
Þorsteinn Ingólfsson 890
Þórhildur Þorsteinsdóttir 920
Þorkell Þórhildarson 945
Ketill Þorkelsson 965
Haukur Ketilsson 1020
Yngveldur Hauksdóttir 1060
Snorri Húnbogason 1100 - 1170
Narfi Snorrason 1135 - 1202
Snorri Narfason 1175 - 1260
Narfi Snorrason 1210 - 1284
Snorri Narfason 1260 - 1332
Ormur Snorrason 1320 - 1401
Guttormur Ormsson 1345 - 1381
Loftur "ríki" Guttormsson 1375 - 1432
Ólöf Loftsdóttir 1410 - 1479
Þorleifur Björnsson 1430 - 1486
Björn Þorleifsson 1480 - 1548
Jón Björnsson 1520 - 1600
Árni Jónsson 1560 - 1655
Sveinbjörn Árnason 1610 - 1681
Gísli Sveinbjörnsson 1650 - 1703
Sveinbjörn Gíslason 1694 - 1762
Einar "yngri" Sveinbjarnarson 1727 - 1814
Ragnheiður Einarsdóttir 1789 - 1855
Soffía Vernharðsdóttir 1829 - 1869
Ragnheiður Helgadóttir 1855 - 1946
Þórdís Ásgeirsdóttir 1889 - 1965
My grandmother 1920 - 1995
My father 1942 - 2008
I just got back from Reykjavik (June 2009) and the church is still under renovation (Hallgrimskirkja restoration project) and it is all covered with green net.
I asked my cab driver when it is going to be done and he said it started last summer and was (as has been posted) supposed to be done by fall 2009...but due to the economic recession, it seems to have been delayed more. Hopefully, they will get it done soon...it really is a magnificent building and a great landmark for Reykjavik since you can see it from a lot of points in the city.
But not to worry, even if you do not go up the Church, Iceland has so many more intersting places. They have the PERLAN (the Pearl) which has breathtaking views of the city and even a a cafeteria on the 4th floor and excellent dining...Enjoy Iceland!
Update: VTer sigur_ros wrote on Sun Oct 25, 2009 18:30 MST
Hi. I live close by the church and the scaffolding has been taken away in the last 2 weeks. Tower looks almost white, looks like they did a nice job.
After arriving at Keflavik International Airport and you just want a short visit to the city center, you will probably ride the Fly Bus and then you might want to store your luggage somewhere…
There is Baggage Storage available at the BSI Coach terminal where you will be dropped off. The BSI is at Vatnsmyrarvegur 10 and you can call them at 591-1000 but they are open only from 0730 to 1900. If I were young and backpacking and in Iceland overnight during the bright nights of summer, I would consider leaving my bags there and still go out and explore the city center before my flight the next day…
I just got back from Blue Lagoon and it was so relaxing and very very nice. What I did was I had Reykjavik Excursions pick me up from the airport at 0630 AM when my plane arrived from NY, and the bus leaves from KEF at about 830 AM (Blue Lagoon is closer to airport than the city center) then the first bus that leaves Blue Lagoon is at 1115 AM and they dropped me off to my Reykjavik hotel which is about 40 minutes away. So since my hotel room would probably not be ready yet, it also saved time by me visiting Blue Lagoon immediately when I got in and relaxing my tired body after the plane travel! Your mother would love this…the water is so clean and naturally warm…The entrance to Blue Lagoon was already in my ticket. If you buy Blue Lagoon tickets, makes sure it is not transpo ONLY. The total for the airport pickup, Blue Lagoon Entrance and Drop-off on return to your hotel was US$77. But I did not bring a towel, and they charged ISK 680 for that (about ISK123 to US$1)…they only gave me a wrist key where I was able to put my big luggage in lockers at the first level and my clothes in the Men’s Locker.
The lockers do have hair dryers, but they do not provide slippers. They do have arm floaters before the entrance to the lagoon – so you can float on the waters…it is only about 4 feet deep all throughout in the spot available for the public.
Somebody watches over the people in the pool. But I noticed the Blue Lagoon stuff (lotions) were expensive. They do have the free silica dust for your face to get smoother in wooden boxes around the pool…make sure you dab this white pasty on your face for a few minutes (5-10)…my face still looks the same though, hehehe…
I spent about 2-3 hours there and it was adequate time to enjoy the pools and lava sauna and the waterfountain massage...Unless you go for the intensive spa where someone rubs your back and floats you with your eyes closed on the pool...so much pampering but worth it. They have been voted Best Spa consistently and is TOP TEN in the world according to Conde Nast....
And you can also have the Bus bring you to the Blue Lagoon hours before your flight and then just make sure to be in the airport in time for check-in for your flight
Fondest memory: Blue Lagoon
* Tourism Offices:
- Regional Information Center
Address: Aðalstræti 2
Location: 101 Reykjavík
Phone: (+354) 590 15 50
- District Information Office
Address: Strandgata 6
Location: 220 Hafnarfjörður
Phone: (+354) 585 55 00
* Some useful websites:
- www.visiticeland.com/displayer.asp?cat_id=126 (Spanish/English)
If you want any information about Iceland, you can go to the Tourist Information. Up here they can help you with your questions.
The Tourist Information is named Upplysingamidstöd and is located at Adalstraeti 2. Their website is www.visitReykjavik.is.
The tourist information office is located in the town center at Adalstreti 2 and is a good resource for daytrips and other advice about what to do with your time in Iceland. They can make all of the arrangements for you and you can also browse through all of the leaflets they have that describe the various tours on offer. From whalewatching to geysirs to snowmobiling on glaciers, you can arrange it all from here.
I didn't see too many internet cafes, but this one located right in the town center is a good one. Walk up the stairs to the first floor and you pay for the time that you'll need (300 Kr for 35 minutes, 500 for one hour) and will be given a sign on code. There are snacks and additional seating upstairs and the connection speeds were great.
Located at Vallarstraeti 4
Favorite thing: If you're mailing postcards, the easiest place to do it from is the centrally located main post office, which is open from 9am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday and is located on Austurstraeti right in the town center.
I used Lonely Planet's "Best of Reykjavik" title which was published in June of 2006, but there were a few things in the book that were already a little outdated. It's not a bad book, but when I was browsing through other books at the airport in Keflavik, I found the guidebook, "Inside Reykjavik, The Grapevine Guide" and it was much better. It's written by locals as has a more knowledgeable, insider's voice. It's a great read and I wish I would have had it. The Grapevine is a good quality English language newspaper in Reykjavik that can be found all over town.
I'm not sure where to get the guide online, but if you can't find it, I'd wait and buy it in Reykjavik.
You've heard the talk about how expensive Reykjavik is, and unfortunately, it's true. Accommodations are pretty similar to most major European or North American cities, but eating, drinking and shopping are pretty outrageous here, so prepare yourself for the prices.
In yet another show of its independent spirit, Iceland has its own currency the Kronur. When I was there in April of 2007, 1 USD bought about 63 Kr and 1 Euro bought about 86 Kr. I found it easier to know the conversion for 1000 Kr however (i.e. 1000 Kr = 15 USD roughly).
Bills come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 Kronur and coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100 Kr.