Reykjavik

We left Seattle on “Solar Eclipse Day”, 22 August. While a lot of people travel to see the total solar eclipse, we enjoyed the partial eclipse while we waited for our flight in the SeaTac Airport. Airport and airline staff provided dark plastic sheets for protecting eyes for viewing the eclipse. The dimming of sunlight at the maximum eclipse moment was not that obvious with the tinted glass in the airport terminal.

In Reykjavik, we stayed at the Centerhotel Arnarhvoll across the street from the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. It is next to the harbor and within short walking distance to the city center. Our room looks out on the waterfront with the distant north shore of the fjord beyond.

(L) Harpa Concert Hall on the left and a coast guard ship entering the harbor
(R) Reykjavik building from hotel

Harpa is constructed with thousands of glass hexagon panels covering the walls and ceilings. It was designed before the financial crisis when Iceland was riding high with its international banking operations. The project was cut back with the collapse of the Icelandic economy. For example, instead of Italian marble floors, they used the local black slates. But they managed to build it anyway. It is a gorgeous building.

We went to a tour of the building. In evening, we went to Harpa for a performance of condensed Icelandic sagas. This was a comedic version, so lots of laughs.

       
(L) Sally in front of Harpa                              (R) Wall and ceiling inside Harpa

(L) Glass panels from outside                                      (R) View of harbor from inside Harpa

Another landmark with stunning architecture is the Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran (Church of Iceland) church in Reykajvik. At 244 feet, it is the tallest building in Iceland. Some said the church is in the shape of the pipe organ inside. To me, it looks like the basalt columns we saw in other parts of Iceland. Maybe it is for both. We attended a lovely noon concert at Hallgrimskirkja by Schola Cantorum singing traditional Icelandic folk songs and hymns.

       
(L) Hallgrimskirkja                              (R) Pipe Organ in Hallgrimskirkja

(L) Hallgrimskirkja dominates the Reykjavik skyline                    (R) A building in Reykjavik

       

Looking from above, the houses have bright color roofs. At we walked around town, we noticed most of the houses have metal sidings. It is not surprising considering there are few trees in Iceland to provide lumber for construction.

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