Part 8 - Reykjavik, Iceland / At Sea
Part 8 - Reykjavik, Iceland
When we woke up the next morning, the weather wasn’t as good as the days before. This made us even more conscious of how lucky we had been to visit Iceland’s Highlands with sunshine and blue skies.
We wanted to use this second day in Reykjavk to discover the town on foot and to see the interior of the Hallgrims Church. Therefore, the overcast sky was no real reason for disappointment.
To go into town we didn’t take the shuttle offered by Celebrity, as a taxi for 4 was far cheaper. A sign in front of the line of available cars showed the fixed rates for a trip into town. However, the friendly driver in the first car in line immediately told us that he wouldn’t take the advertised fixed rate but would switch on the meter, as this would be cheaper for us.
Slightly skeptical, we gave him the benefit of the doubt. But at ISK 2,000 (ca. EUR 15.00) the trip to the church, filled with interesting explanations by our friendly driver, was indeed cheaper than the fixed rates.
As our taxi driver had already confirmed during our ride, the large bronze door of the church with its blood-red Italian mosaic was open that day.
We gladly accepted the invitation „Come to me“, placed above the door ornaments, and entered this fascinating building.
The nave with many Gothic elements appeared unusually bright. This wasn’t just due to the bright paint of the walls and the cross-ribbed vault, but also to the wide renouncement of stained glass windows. Thanks to the clear panes of the pointed arch windows, the light was free to flood the church and the sanctuary, even on this rather dull day.
The space was marked by the enormous concert organ above the entrance of the church. Built in Bonn/Germany, this huge instrument comprises 5,275 pipes, is about 15 m (45 ft.) high and weighs 25 tons. The sight of the visible organ pipes is dominated by the lateral pedal pipes boasting an impressive length of 10 m (33 ft.). And yet, the size of these low-frequency steel pipes was almost lost in the height of the large, light-flooded nave.
The shiny steel bodies in various sizes weren’t just a visual treat. Thanks to an organist playing for the visitors, we were also able to enjoy the sound of Iceland’s largest organ. It was impressive. Especially the low and loud tones seemed to make the entire room vibrate, and tickles went through us right into our stomachs.
As the alternating soft and loud sounds of the instrument filled every corner of the church, we had a look around.
Tickets for the lift to the tower were sold in the vesitbule of the nave. At ISK 900.00 this was no cheap pleasure, but we didn’t want to miss out on it either. As we were waiting for the next lift, we could take a look at the pieces of art of a small exhibition adorning the walls of the room. The motto was “On an Island by the arctic Sea: People, Fire and Birds”.
From the bell tower high above Leif Eriksson’s head we had a panoramic view of Reykjavik’s colorful houses and could even see our Eclipse lying in port.
At the end of the road leading downhill, which looked like an extension of the church axis and seemed to be guarded by the watchful eye of armed explorer Eriksson, we could already get a first glimpe of Harpa, Reykjavik’s concert hall to the right of the city port, which was another destination of our walk.
After visiting the church steeple, we left the church to the sounds of the Klais organ and walked down the street.
It was lined with small galeries, souvenir and jewelry shops, colorful cafes, and at its end an exhibition of drawings by children of a local school.
In a small, inviting shop we bought a “piece of Iceland” for Birgit in form of a small, enclosed piece of lava on a necklace, which was handmade by a local goldsmith. A beautiful memento of Iceland and this trip.
Past the seat of the Prime Minster and a statue (“The Water Carrier” ) by the Icelandic sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson we soon reached the center of Reykjavik near the city port.
There were more shops selling the typical Iceland sweaters made of Alafoss Lopi, the wool of Icelandic sheep. It must be quite pleasant judging by this little fellow in a shop window apparently quite comfortable on one of those sweaters ...
According to Condé Nast Traveller, “The One Dish to Eat in Iceland is Hot Dogs”. Naturally, we didn’t want to miss out on this specialty called “Pylsur” and were pleased to come across “Pylsuhúsid”, a hot dog stand. Obviously, we said “Yes” when asked “With everything?” as we wanted to try Pylsur like Icelanders – with mustard, ketchup and onions. Delicious!!!
After this little snack we turned towards the city port. On the esplanade we found a few panels explaining a few ships of the region, an old steam locomotive, which used to belong to the portt railroad, and a sculpture of two fishermen “Horft til hafs” (“Looking out to Sea”).
However, what dominates the port is “Harpa” , Reykjavik’s impressive concert hall.
The design of the opera house was influenced by Iceland’s unique, dramatic nature. The entire front consists of countless glass facets, which were joined together and structured like a honeycomb. This creates different light reflections in the windows, which can also be illuminated in different ways by millions of LEDs at night.
I really liked the interior of the giant vestibule stretching over various levels. To me, without having read any architectural interpretations, the interior actually brought up connotations of Iceland. The many reflective glass and mirror surfaces shimmering in various hues reminded me of the ice, the dark granite walls and floor evoked the many lava fields we had seen.
Through a glass comb on the top floor we could see our Eclipse in the distance.
In front of the concert hall we took another taxi and returned to the port. When we reached the ship, we were greeted by the friendly hotel director who welcomed the guests and inquired about their satisfaction.
We had no reason to complain – on the contrary. During dinner at Blu we were spoilt again with delicacies like Filet Mignon and Lobster Ravioli, and when we had our habitual nightcap in the Sky Lounge, we enjoyed the usual friendly and attentive service.
When we made our farewells to Reykjavik as we set sail, we agreed again: Iceland is fantastic!
After the eventful days in Iceland, this day we found this at sea to be a welcome breather. With a long breakfast, at Blu for a change, a visit to the gym and pure relaxation in the Persian Garden, the morning went by quickly.
Lunch at the Ocean View went on until early afternoon thanks to an interesting conversation we had with a couple at our table. While Birgit spent the afternoon reading, I went to the theater to attend the guest speaker’s talk about Belfast and the construction of the Titanic.
Obviously, we couldn’t let this cruise pass without following the enticing call of the future cruise sales office... We succumbed not only to its call but also to temptation. As we had already booked a cruise on the Constellation to Southeast Asia for spring 2017, we officially declared 2017 our Asia year and booked another cruise on the Millennium, which will take us from Tokyo along the Japanese coast via South Korea to Shanghai.
In the afternoon, I fulfilled myself a long-cherished desire and bought a watch which I had already been eying for a few cruises. Our existing onboard credit together with the one we got for booking another cruise helped with the decision just as much as my lovely wife’s persuasion.
In the evening, Ursula and Wolfgang, our dear travel companions, invited us for dinner at the Tuscan Grille.
The food was good, plentiful, and especiallly the dessert terribly tempting.
I probbably don’t have to mention that after such a good meal, a digestif at the Sky Lounge was inevitable.
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