Iceland: Reykjabirgthjurdigsturik, Part 2

After thrifting, walking! I found a lovely lunch.

And then I walked and walked. I looked in shops, watched people, saw the light move across buildings, sea and nearby mountains. I resisted many beckoning goodies, until I got here:

This place did me in. Since I already had a quite traditional Icelandic sweater, I’d decided not to buy another. But someone raising Icelandic sheep, designing garments, producing out of a small studio in the north, then needle felting on top… I was a goner. I decided THIS would be my purchase for the trip. I bought a cape. I talked with the owner (part of the farm’s extended family) and learned all about them. I’m hoping we can visit next year.

I did venture across the street to the Handknitting Association of Iceland’s lovely shop. And though I was tempted, I managed to get out of there without buying anything. Whew!

So I kept walking. But soon ran into this shop, where I found some fishskin leather!

I am completely enchanted by this tanned fish skin. I’ve never seen anything like it, nor have I seen it anywhere other than Iceland. It’s made from a waste product, is perfectly as strong as other animal leathers, and takes dye beautifully. I’ve got it in mind to visit the tannery (way up north) when we put a trip together. Very, very cool stuff. So I bought a small bag, about 4″ x 6″ and told myself that THIS (plus cape) would be my purchase for the trip.

Then I walked some more. I was walking all the way down to almost the end of the peninsula. I had seen a listing of all the museums. The Saga Museum, about Vikings, seemed like it would be unusual and interesting. On the way, I wandered through the harbor. Even in the freezing cold weather, crews were out building and repairing large commercial sea craft. Restaurants and shops line the area. Not too many folks out that day though! But I can imagine in summer it’s busy, busy, busy.

By this time, I’d been walking outside for almost four hours. I was cold and pretty tired. I had a map though and knew the Saga Museum was not much further. I found it and slipped inside. There was no one around. A restaurant and bar was on one side (empty, with hipster bartender cleaning tables), gift shop on the other (quite extensive), and a desk to approach for entry. I purchased a ticket. I dropped my big coat and bag in a locker. I was given a headset and tiny recording apparatus and sent in through some doors.

“Hooray!” I thought!

And found myself in something that was midway between The Pirates of the Caribbean and … well, I don’t know what else. I don’t even know how to describe it. Let’s see… A series of full size figures with complete dress, props, costumes, each its own little story – a bit like dioramas! The interior of the space was all painted black. Spotlights lit up only the dioramas and pathway. And you moved from station to station when the recording told you to.

I have to tell you, though the wax figures were well done and so were the costumes, it was the most boring museum I’ve ever visited. In fact, I only made it to about 12 of the 20 stops. The recorded bits were awful. Oh my. All I could think was “Thank god I’ve visited here and know not to bring any other people!!!”

It was a bit like Game of Thrones in stop-action, but without the interesting characters. Lots of violence, political machinations. Not as much sex though.

On the walk, I’d briefly thought about going to the National Museum of Iceland. But opted for this one instead, thinking “Well, the National Museum will be elegant and dignified and intellectual. I know what that will be like. So let’s try something different.” Oy.

Despite the wind and cold, I couldn’t get outta there fast enough. Oh, with one exception: I did find a great little book on naalbinding. I purchased it and two needles. Naalbinding is a very old Norse/Scandinavian technique for building garments from yarn or string. It’s not weaving, knitting or crochet, but something akin to them. The book had very good pictures and diagrams. Going to try my hand at it. (Pictures swiped from the web.)

So, onward, into the cold! I had to walk all the way back to the hotel. No little jaunt, that. Instead of walking back the way I came, I skirted around the commercial district and found my way back through as many residential neighborhoods as possible. I really wanted to see where Reykjavik residents were living and what kind of housing stock is in the city.

I found an interesting mix of apartment buildings and stand-alone houses, apartment blocks and older buildings which looked like attached homes. Surprisingly, almost all the buildings were white. Occasionally I would come across a shade of grey from barely there to almost black. But very little color. I used to think of Tel Aviv as “the white city” because much of it was built in the same era using the newly modern International style of white buildings without ornament. I soon began to think of Reykjavik as “the white city” too. The Reykjavik neighborhoods, with predominantly white buildings, did still display tiny flourishes of ornament in ironwork, doors, windows and sometimes parks. The prevailing color I saw aside from the white to black spectrum was red. Not a cherry or fire-engine red, but rather a deep red, reminiscent of old, baked bricks and deep red tomatoes.

I made it back to the hotel with an hour to spare. Whew! Relaxed a bit, changed, then I was up and out the door for pickup to the evening event. I wish I had taken my phone and therefore camera. Alas, I did not, so I’ll have to swipe some images of Harpa Hall from the web. The tradeshow was hosting a big drinks/dinner/welcome. Probably well over 500 people were there, none of which I knew. So, already exhausted from the day, I went, ate, chatted with a few folks, and was the first to board the return transportation to our airport. I may have fallen asleep prior to reaching my room. Luckily, I did set my alarm. The next day was a busy one.

Some pics of Harpa Hall. It’s a stunner. Makes me proud to have briefly been an architect.


    • Sun was up around 9:30 am, heading down by 4:00 ish. Generally Heather and I both have back to vack tours and research all through May/June, then again through Sept/Oct. We like to travel on the shoulder seasons. Less expensive, fewer people – a better experience all the way around for our travelers. And i’ve become fairly crazy. Leading or coleading 7 or 8 tours this year. Looks like 1-2 more in 2020.


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