Tuesday 28 April 2020

2019 Reykjavik

23.1.19 Reykjavik

Back here, after many years (how many? Eight? Ten?).  In the Eyja Guldsmeden Hotel with a view of the sea.  Flew in last night with Easyjet – very cheap flights, since it's low season.  To the new airport, rather far out.  Took the Skybus, taxis so expensive.  Fine except when it came to change to the minibus for the hotel drop – had to wait in the cold, then the back door didn't close, and we had to change.

Hotel OK, but like everything in Iceland, very expensive for what it is.  Snowing when we woke today.  Out in the dark, which would reign for two more hours.  Reminded me of Russia, when I went with Intourist, those crazy Soviet trips.  After a pleasant coffee in the Sandholt Café on Laugavegur, then to the new Culture House.  Practically empty of people, not much in the way of exhibits either, but that's understandable.  Then to the harbour, which is completely transformed from last time – building going on everywhere.  To the Reykjavik Museum.  Mostly awful, but Erro's work stands up well.  After, food at the Reykjavik Fish Restaurant: I recognise this from my previous trip, but don't remember it as fish and chips.  

Back to the hotel via Hallgrimskirkja – bonkers, but beautiful.  Fab organ.  As we came back, the sun was setting (at 2pm), and the snow on the mountains opposite Reykjavik blazed.  We went down to the sea – with difficulty, since the snow was thick.  Amazing views.  Back to here to rest before venturing out at 7pm to seek northern lights…

24.1.19 Reykjavik

In the hotel after a tiring afternoon.  Last night was slightly disappointing.  Despite the "high" aurora activity, we saw them only faintly – but we did see them.  The coach took us out to Thingvellir – but nothing very visible.  Cold: -4°C, and so an experience.

This morning we rested, then went back to Sandholt Café for our second breakfast, bought buns and croissants for lunch.  Then out to the Blue Lagoon.  Ridiculously expensive, but a thing one does.  Out towards the airport, then left through barren, empty landscapes – really depressing.  Then into the pool of naturally-heated water at 38°C.  Water lovely, but the driving sleet and snow stinging.  Eventually the snow stopped, and the skies cleared.  Leaving quite a pleasant experience just soaking there.  Very few people – must be horrible when it's full.  Drank the complimentary glass of cheap red wine – revolting, but helped fend off the cold.  After 1.5 hours really rather nice.

Back to the hotel, and then a pleasant meal of fish soup, salmon and herring (raw) for supper.  Simple but wholesome.  Back to UK tomorrow, not too early – 12.20pm flight, so fairly civilised.  A nice break, all-in-all.  Still amazed how small Reykjavik is.  But then no doubt it's developing fast – the changes from last time I was here are evident.  A confident people, proud of their past, and rightly so.

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