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June 25-27

We arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland on June 26, 2014 at 7 am after a seven hour flight on Iceland Air from Denver. Iceland is 6 hours ahead of Colorado so it was 1am body time. We quickly got through immigration and collected our luggage. Since we were arriving a day ahead of the start of the tour, we had reserved our own transportation from the airport on a shuttle bus. It was a 45 minute ride from the airport to our hotel in Reykjavik, the Reykjavik Lights. Naturally our room was not ready but they offered us breakfast while we waited. Our room was ready at noon and we took a much needed 3 hour nap. Then we went for a walk up and down the street by the hotel. It was 50 degrees out with a light drizzle. We found a pizza parlor for dinner and to Fred's delight found out they also had an all-you-can-eat gelato bar.

Hilton Reykjavik Nordica HotelAfter a good nights sleep, we checked out and walked the short distance to the hotel booked as part of the tour - the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica. There we met the rest of the group and our tour director, Sigrun. The weather had turned beautiful - blue skies and almost 65 degrees - a rarity in Iceland as we would soon learn. Sigrun led us on a walk to a park area across from the hotel.Wash Woman Statue The park had a sculpture garden, outdoor thermal swimming pool, sports fields, zoo and botanic garden. The area used to be the site of a wash house at the hot springs. Until 1933, women would come and wash clothes. A sculpture commemorates this event.

We were given bus passes and then shown how to take the bus into the downtown area, about a 10 minute ride from the hotel. Sigrun led us on a walk around the town center and harbor area. Reykjavik is a very comfortable city to walk around in. It is the capital of Iceland with 230,000 people within the city and immediate surroundings, about 2/3 of the population of Iceland. But Reykjavik feels more like a small town than a city. People are friendly and helpful and the city is very clean. The architecture is quite a mix of historical buildings and new glass high rises. Performing Art CenterThe most controversial is the concert hall built in 2011. We stood in the square across from the Parliament building where in 2008, after the economic crisis, people protested the government by beating on pans. Our afternoon was free to shop and sight see on our own. We took Sigrun's advice and ate lunch at the Sea Baron, a hole in the wall place in one of the old buildings on the harbor whose specialty is lobster soup. And it was delicious. Hot dog standWe followed that up by splitting a hot dog at an outdoor stand made famous when Bill Clinton ate there. Hot dogs are one of Iceland's favorite foods and supposedly this stand has the best ones. There was always a line waiting to order. We had one with everything on it and it sure was good.

HallgrimskirkjaAfter lunch we walked back to the main bus station along the pedestrian shopping area. We stopped at the Hallgrimskirkja church, the largest in Iceland. It was built in honor of Hallgrimur Petursson, an Icelandic poet and clergyman who composed many hymns. The architect who designed it said it was built to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland's landscape but we think it looks like a pipe organ. We took the elevator to the top for some wonderful views of the city.



To view more photos from Reykjavik, please go to Reykjavik Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Stykkisholmur.

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