We weren’t actually driving around today. We parked the car and unloaded it the previous day because we would be in our Airbnb a couple of nights. The day before we had booked a City Walk free tour for 10 a.m. so we had time for a leisurely stroll down to the Parliament building where the tour would start. If you watch TV you will be familiar with the small park in front of the Parliament building. It is the site of frequent demonstrations including those recently conducted when the Panama Papers were released and the Icelandic Government fell.
The tour group gathered around the Statue of Skúli Magnússon. Magnússon is known as the father of Reykjavík. Our tour leader seemed to be a left wing liberal and was very entertaining. He made numerous observations regarding the financial collapse of 2008. According to tour leader Iceland was just a step away from becoming another Dubai when things went south. If you want to read an humorous account of what happened check out Michael Lewis book Boomerang. The interesting thing is that Iceland put quite a few people in jail for causing the collapse. If only we had been so brave.
These houses were right in downtown Reykjavík. It appeared that quite a few of them were being operated as Airbnbs.
This is a familiar scene if you watched the recent Euro Cup Soccer Matches. When the matches started they had a large video screen in this plaza. As the Euro Cup progressed and Iceland did so well they had to move to a much larger park. The second shot is looking down a street from the plaza.
Harpa is a spectacular concert hall and conference hall situated on the Reykjavik waterfront. It was originally part of a much larger downtown redevelopment. Unfortunately it was started in 2008 just before the collapse. Most of the development was canceled but the government decided to finish Harpa. It was finally completed in 2011. Some of the other projects that had been cancelled are just now starting to be renewed.
This is a view from Arnarholl Park. It is located on the old farmstead of Arnarholl. The statue of Ingólfur Arnarson, Iceland’s first settler, can be found in the park. If you look closely at the statue you can see that he is wearing lipstick. Rumor has it that he acquired lipstick a gay pride event. This is also the park where the Icelandic Soccer matches were viewed on television.
This is the only public restroom that we found in all of Reykjavik.
This is a school in Reykjavik.
The Icelandic Navy, all two ships, was in port. According to our tour guide it is always in port.
Yes it is true that Icelanders leave their baby in strollers on the streets. This would be unheard of in this country.
We found that Iceland is indeed recovering from the 2008 crash. Construction cranes are everywhere in downtown Reykjavik. This building is covered for construction. We first notice this practice in Japan where every building under construction is covered. An Icelander told us that when this practice first started they would paint an image of what the building would look like on the covering.
One of the things that we were very disturbed about was the amount of graffiti in Reykjavik. It seemed to be everywhere. There were some places where art work was on display but most of the buildings were covered with graffiti. This was not the case in other Icelandic cities.
One of the interesting things that happens in Reykjavik is they close down some of the main shopping streets to traffic for the summer and make them a walking streets. This is a really great idea given the number of people walking around in the downtown. They had not actually closed off the streets permanently while we were there but every once in a while the streets would be closed to auto traffic. They open the streets in the morning for delivery’s etc. A recent poll indicated that 76 percent of the people approved of this practice. We have a similar issue in Duluth where a major reconstruction is taking place. We pushed for a walking street but businesses are still stuck in the 1950’s and were proud of the fact that they actually increased street parking. Bummer.
We happened to be in Reykjavik during the celebration of Fisherman’s Day. The celebration actually spanned the weekend. We walked down to the harbor area where they had games and activities for kids. We also admired the many ships in the harbor.
They had a large display of the various types of fish caught in the ocean. I didn’t take any close-ups because it was the second day of the event and the fish didn’t look all that good.
We walked past this stature of Blockhead several times before stopping to take a photo.
We capped off a long day of walking around Reykjavik by having a dinner at a local restaurant.
More photos and a complete listing of my Icelandic blogs can be found on my website.