I am using the free Internet station at the ITC Hotel in Amsterdam, so I will write a little bit about Reykjavík until a guest comes, breathing down my neck to use the computer. The landing at Keflavík Airport seemed like a landing on cotton, not only for its gentleness but also for its appearance. The ground was shrouded in thick mist. I could only see a hazy darkness underneath. The ground was very rocky, almost black, with no grass. The rocky blackness was proof of Iceland’s volcanic origins. The misty scene reminded me of my time in the Faroe Islands, where diaphanous curtains of fog sweep over the land. The airport is almost 50 km west of Reykjavík and there is always a bus waiting to take passengers into the city. The trip took about forty minutes.
Reykjavík is a small city, only about 120.000 population, yet the city during the summer was teeming with tourists. The streets were very crowded. I spent a lot of time in three bookstores and in several souvenir shops, on the hunt for fridge magnets that didn’t have any English on them, only Icelandic. I did find one, yes one, in all of the souvenir shops I visited. Ísland is Icelandic for “Iceland” and I specifically wanted a magnet like that. (This reminds me of my time in Copenhagen when I refused to buy any “Copenhagen” postcards and bought only ones that said København on them.)
When Mark and I arrived at the bus terminal, the smell of eggs was everywhere. There was a restaurant in the terminal, and since we had arrived from Toronto so early (landing at 06.25) it first occurred to me that the restaurant was overdoing it in omelette production. Mark corrected me and said that the sulphur in the atmosphere was the cause of the eggy smell. The entire city smells like this, but you do get used to it and soon after our walk from the bus terminal into central Reykjavík, I forgot about it.
The Harpa concert hall is a new glassy structure which in winter looks like a gigantic ice cube. I bought both summer- and wintertime postcards of the Harpa. The city is small enough to see on foot without needing public transport. Reykjavík also reminded me of St. John’s, with its rainbow range of colours on roofs. I took many photos of the fluorescent day-glo roofs that we passed.
More to come in my next instalment. Hotel guests are indeed breathing down my neck!