Exploring

September 23, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

**Pictures are not final edits.. there’s still work to be done… but a story without pictures is well… less interesting?**

There’s a wonderous freedom about wandering around a foreign city on ones own, sticking your head into every nook and cranny, visiting all the shops you want. Being unfettered by anothers’ agenda is calming which allows for a more natural discovery of a location-  and this is exactly what I did today.

Leaving the hostel after a filling museli/yoghurt/ skyr breakfast with fruit, I put on my walking shoes (not hiking boots!) grabbed my camera gear and set off on foot to explore Reykjavik on the beautiful Saturday morning it had given me. My first destination was the famous church, tourists already swarming around when I got there, and waiting for a clear shot was an early-morning patience test. Worth the wait as there was blue sky peeking through the clouds that were slowly parting.

Inside the church was just as impressive as the outside. The colours were minimal and, without knowing my chruches, daresay “traditional” which were kept to the pastel green – cream – wood tones which only added to the serenity of the environment along with the harmonious soundtrack of a choir recording. Icelandic churches are known for their bizarre architecture, they seem to let their creative juices run wild when it comes to designing holy places. I’ve seen many but photographed few – a regret of this trip, but that’s something to strive for next time. A notable part of this church was the height of the tower (pictured) and the inside detail of the roof. This roof has been nicknamed the “fishbone” as its white crests fall easily into the curvature of the windows, and it looks like a fish skeleton… It really does feel like a holy place. Something of which I’m not accustomed to!

Once the church was done, and I say “Done” because I had long seen pictures of this church and only wondered what it looked like in the real. Impressive is not a word I often use for religious buildings, but this is deserving of the title. I cannot imagine how amazing the view from the tower must be. If it were a totally clear day I could’ve been persuaded to take a tour to the top!

I ventured down many little streets afterwards, taking photos of simple everyday things. These are the kinds of things you take for granted when you’re there, but when you leave, you cannot exactly remember what a street looked like, how the architecture was, colours, shapes and quirks… this was my objective of the day. Capture the city by how it’s presented. I don’t think I did too bad a job, I did enjoy walking from shop to shop and peeking in at what fashion counts for in Iceland.

For those who’re curious, I still think they’re stuck in the Fluro phase we had a few years ago. It’s somewhat american styled (what isn’t these days) and rather multicultural still. You can still find a Nepalese/Indian/Thai / Vietnamese/Sushi restaurant. “Traditional Icelandic” cuisine is reserved for the more expensive tastes, with a main starting at $40.

I’ve rarely come across a rude icelander, which is good to know. I ran out of phone credit this morning and wandered into a convenience store really hoping that the attendant spoke english or understood what I was asking. Thankfully, her store sold the phone credit that I was seeking, and since the instructions were all in Icelandic, she helped me re-add the credit via the phone service which was spoken in Icelandic too. I was incredibly thankful and told her so.

^ a side view of her shop.

Around midday I made my way down to the “Flea markets” that are held each Saturday by the harbour. These were rumoured to be a mix of new and old handicrafts and thrift stuff – typical flea markets. I did manage to buy myself a Lopi wool top – I’ll be wearing this next winter at work, it’s definitely thick enough to only wear in winter. It’s very nice. Im glad I got it for a bargain, about 50% cheaper than all the similar products at other tourist shops and handcraft shops.

It was here I also tried the coveted Hakarl – Rotten Shark. If you’re still unfamiliar with this, the short explanation is: Shark flesh is full of ammonia and dangerous to consume when fresh. So the Icelanders had a great idea to cut it up, hang it up to dry for 6 months (or cure it in salt) and give it time to sweat out the poison. It’s now a delicacy and apparently icelanders love it. The lady at the fish shop/stall where it was sold said that most people who like strong flavours like blue cheese find it quite enjoyable. Liking blue cheese myself, I accepted the offer of a free taste test, a small cube about 1cm square. I got video of myself tasting it. I can still remember the strong chemical ammonia taste, but there was also other flavours that were not so unpleasant. An open mind was definitely the key to getting as far as putting it in my mouth and getting up the will to swallow. I was thinking “blue cheese blue cheese” and this must’ve helped!

One cube was definitely enough though, I walked away wondering if I was going to collapse or suffer intense gastric distress. Alas none of this occured as I made my way to the closest coffee shop for a chocolate muffin (but ended up getting a vanilla biscuit) in search of something to drown out the taste now occuring in my mouth. The worst part? Not the swallowing or the chewing. The burping. urgh. I’ll be glad when it’s out of my body. I swear I can smell it each time I go to the toilet. TMI? Probably… but it’s part of the experience…

Eventually, I made my way out of the market and back up the street from whence I had come. I wandered around a little longer, finding that I was retracing my steps, so I headed back to the hostel for the task of packing my suitcase in preparation for leaving on Monday. Suitcase tetris is never a fun task, I’m keen to know how much my bag is over the limit, I’lk be stunned if it’s under. Lets see how this peters out.

I ate a fairly non-descript dinner at a mexican themed restaurant – but they sold alot of fish and traditional icelandic. I was after something that reminded me of home – something I knew my stomach could take. I chose a salmon with salad. It was great and was just what I was after. I can’t wait to have my massive salad pigout at home!

Here’s a few more images of Reykjavik:

  

Tomorrow is one more day of relaxation.

We’re heading to the Blue Lagoon to soak off our travellers woes. Josh is looking for a massage, myself, a plentiful lathering with their signature Silica mud mask, plus a steam and sauna. Will be good!

We depart monday morning 7am (5pm monday brisbane time) and return home on Wednesday morning. I can’t wait to give these images a process on a better computer.

As I process images and release them, Ill post as well. This will not be the last of the Iceland posts. I will do a complete trip wrapup when Ive processed my full portfolio of images in the coming weeks/months!

If I don’t get a chance to post tomorrow night, Id like to thank you for following me and my travels. It’s been a pleasure writing these posts and sharing as much as I can!

Much love!

Mel


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