Since my final full day was so nice that I actually had to use the sunglasses I’d thankfully thought to pack, I decided to walk out to Laugardalur Valley and visit the zoo. It’s open all year round but I suspect that it’s a bit livelier in the summer than when I went.
This sculpture garden and museum is one of the three parts of Reykjavik’s Art Museum and was recommended to me by a member of staff when I visited Hafnarhús.
One of the things I had pre-booked before arriving in Reykjavik was a whale-watching tour, something I’d not done when I was living in Vancouver. The tour was run by Elding Whale Watching who were great, with a very informative guide, and my pre-booking ensured that I was picked up at my hotel and taken down to the harbour, so didn’t have to worry about getting there on time myself.
There are of course no guarantees on these kind of tours that you will get to see any whales and indeed the best time to see them is between May and September and I was there at the beginning of October. But, amazingly, we did see some minke whales.
On the same rainy day that I visited The National Museum of Iceland I also visited some art galleries and museums where, naturally, photography was not allowed.
The first of these was The Reyjkavik Art Musuem, which is actually a network of art museums housed in three buildings across the city. (I only visited two, Hafnarhus, on Tryggvagata and the Asmundur Sveinsson Sculpture Museum, which will feature in a later post). It’s the largest building in the network, built in the 1930s and houses the permanent exhibitions of Erro, apparently “one of Europe’s most notable pop artists”. The other exhibitions turned out to be all about contemporary art, which anyone who’s been here a while will realise is not always my thing.
Luckily the day I had decided to dedicate as a museum day is the day when it started raining and just didn’t stop, which meant I visited a few more places than I’d actually intended to. The main museum I was interested in and which I had heard good things about, was the National Museum of Iceland.
This is the part where I go through the sights I saw as I wandered around Reykjavik that don’t fit into their own category. I did not see all of these things in the same day, so please don’t try and replicate the tour, you may find yourself with very sore feet!
One impressive building, only opened in 2011, is the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, which hosts international events and concerts. It was designed by Olafur Eliasson and in a theme common in Icelandic design, it was built to reflect the surrounding landscape.
Hallgrimskirkja, or Hallgrimur’s church, is the tallest building in Reykjavik and the largest church in Iceland, designed to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape or an erupting volcano, depending on which tourist guide you read. Whatever the architect’s vision, it certainly is a distinctive building that you can see from practically everywhere in the City – and makes a great compass point if you need one.
The Settlement Exhibition, is built around the remains of a Viking longhouse – excavated in 2001 and the oldest relics of human habitation in the capital. Photography was allowed inside but because of the low-level lighting I decided not to attempt it, so I’m afraid the only photo you get in this post is of the outside of the building.
During my trip to Iceland, as well as seeing the Northern Lights, which I’ve written about here, I naturally visited a lot of places in and around Reykjavik and took a huge amount of photos. But as is always the case I visited a lot of museums and galleries where photography was not allowed. So such posts as this one will have to cope with a lot more waffle from me than usual, though there will be pictures popping up of Reykjavik itself, if nothing else!
Recently I took a holiday in Reykjavik, Iceland and that’s going to be the focus of the next set of posts. The main reason I wanted to go there was the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, and I was not disappointed. Of course, there were no guarantees that my tour group would get to see them – some in my group were on their second attempt – but we were very lucky in that the cloud cover broke enough for us to see the lights (nine other tour groups that went out on the same night were not so lucky).