Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reykjavík: “smoky bay”

I should first start by saying that I am in complete and utter awe of Iceland. If you are a geologist, or someone with an ounce of appreciation for nature, you should definitely visit. I'm quite envious of the Icelandic people for living in such an inspiring place. It really reminded me of Copenhagen mixed with Portland, Maine and then with the most beautiful scenery you have ever seen added for good measure.

When we arrived I felt as though I was on another planet. The lava fields that surround the airport, and much of the way into Reykjavik, were just so fascinating. Along the way there were also organic sculptures of rocks that were stacked on each other, which added to the allure and intrigue of it all.

Reykjavik, means 'smoky bay' in Icelandic, and it was named due to the steam from the hot springs. Ironically, due to the geothermal heat, it's actually the first smoke free capitol in the world. They have delicious fresh water and it comes out of the tap quite hot.

I have so much respect for this country and it's people. Although it's quite small, only 300,000 residents! 60% of which live in Reykjavik, they do little things to safeguard their economy - like not importing any dairy products and formulating their own. One of these products is called Skyr, and it's a protein rich yogurt that I got my first taste of on the plane. They really seem to work with nature and harness it's energy as opposed to trying to force it to work with them. It's quite astounding. I also was surprised to find there wasn't a single Emily in Iceland... at least according to their phonebook, which is listed by first name.

Another interesting fact is that the Icelandic language has not changed too much since the Viking days, so much of the Viking's writings can still be read by average people.

Before visiting Reykjavik I often read people recommended to completely skip visiting and head into the interior of Iceland. I can understand why they would say that since the nature is just stunning, but I'm glad we didn't take that advice. On our second day we even spotted one of Iceland's most famous residents - Björk, the Icelandic singer.

Some of my favorite aspects of Rejkjavik were the colors, art work, fantastic free city tour, dinner at Domo, and watching the pride of the Icelandic people when their Olympic winning silver medal handball team arrived home from Beijing.

It was also interesting that since there was no industrial revolution in Iceland, many of the roads seemed brand new and they were continually being worked on.

Every day of our trip it seemed that we would happen upon something that simply took our breath away or was eye opening. It was neat to see historical places, such as Höfði, the house where Gorbachev and Reagan met 1986 for the Iceland Summit. I also loved the children's wall, which was bright and cheery.

In Reykjavik there was a painted wall that I fell in love with. I always love well done graffiti and this served more of a purpose.

It said:

"Just look at how the mountains so very mighty be sharp as razors at the top they span the land and sea but don't forget that though majestic spires, capped with snow from each and every single grain of sand is where they grow."

There will be plenty more about Iceland and the rest of our trip in the coming days. We're still trying to take it all in!


Melaina25 said...

Amazing photos! I was only ever in Rejkjavik airport, but the butter I had on the plane was the best butter ever.

You travel to the most beautiful places, I'm wicked jealous!

CraftyRachel said...

Beautiful photos of Rejkevik, Emily. There really is so much to see there. I remember that ride from the airport and that feeling of awe. Such an unusual place. I can't believe you actually spotted Björk!

JoernandAllison said...

It does sound like you guys made a great decision to see Reykjavik, since so much of the population lives there, I'm sure it gave you an excellent insight into their culture. Nevermind that you got to see the return of the Olympic team, AND Björk (Joern is so jealous!)

Emily said...

You'll have to make it to Iceland - it's such an amazing place. I also had the butter you're talking about I think they call it Smjör.

Thanks again for your recommendations - it was really one of those landmark moments in my life thus far.

You're totally right about the population and being able to experience it. The handball team and Björk were added bonuses. She was just going about her day, so I didn't take a picture of her.

Bluefish said...

I've always wondered what people did in Iceland...their country sounds so interesting.

Emily said...

It is a really interesting culture and a beautiful place. Fishing is one of their biggest industries and geothermal energy is also huge there.