Sunday, July 31, 2011

Heading into the low mountains, atop Icelandic horses. The guided horse tours are a great way to see and feel the terrain. A two-to-three hour tour with the well-established Eldhestar cost $75 per person.

The commercial/tourist complex of central Rejyavik runs along two primary streets. Many clothing, arts and craft stores populate Skolavordustigur, a street that strikes off at a 45-degree tangent from the slightly more conventional-feeling Laugavegur street. Neither feels too kitschy. The cafes and coffee bars don't seem to open until at least 7:30 a.m., which can be a shock to the caffeine-haunted visitor accustomed to a more get-up-and-go urban attitude.

Friday, July 29, 2011

This church located along coastal Route 34, east of Porlakshofn,  is very similar architecturally to what one sees throughout the country. Iceland is predominantly Lutheran, with some 79 percent of the population evidently belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland.

And then there is this, the Hallgrimskirkja behemoth in the center of Reyjavik. The church was constructed over 34 years, being completed in 1974. The concrete building is a stylistic homage to the volcanic foundation of Iceland. The imagery impresses itself: upthrust through the quasi-basalt columns comes the tower of human spirit. Unseen here is the front door whose vivid red color seems to represent molten lava, the red-hot stuff that only later cools to monumental stature.

In front is a statue, presented by the United States government in 1930, of explorer Leif Erikson. This presentation was upon the 1000th anniversary of the Alping, the Viking's inaugural parliament.

From Route 1, south of Rejyavik on the route to Selfoss. Summer weather in the region seems reliably unreliable. During the week of July 23-30, every day brought some rain. Then the rain stopped. Then it would start again. Then, stop. The clouds, at least, were constant.

The temperatures hovered about 55 degrees during the day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One cannot fathom Iceland in a week.  Proper pronunciations alone would take a solid year's worth of work. Nonetheless, a week is enough time to become utterly entranced. The people are very friendly, English is commonly spoken and the terrain is very entertaining.

It's true what they say about Reyjavik. It is the most intimate and eccentric of capital cities, a place of strong coffee and later risers.

The rain and clouds come and go, shielding and then revealing the distant ranges. This view is looking north from the ring road that encircles the city, running by the harbor. The harbor's working boats seem primarily oriented toward the tourist trade, with a dozen or more whale-watching ships peddling their services.