Iceland 2021 – Exploring More Reykjavik & Puffins

I finished off my Iceland trip by spending the remaining few days exploring more of Reykjavik and going to see some Puffins on the island of Lundey. During my last few days I visited the National Theatre of Iceland, Harpa, National Museum of Iceland, Iceland University, Nordic House, Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral, Magic Ice Bar, Le Kock Restaurant, and I also took a boat to see the Puffins on the nearby island of Lundey.

National Theatre of Iceland

The National Theatre of Iceland is a beautiful Art Deco building designed by Icelandic architect Gudjon Samuelsson. The building was built in 1950, and showcases Samuelsson’s beloved basalt columns. Another building similar to this is the University of Iceland’s Main Building, also designed by Samuelsson.

Iceland University

The University of Iceland’s Main Building was designed by Icelandic architect Gudjon Samuelsson. It was completed in 1940, and is very similar in design to the National Theatre of Iceland. I love the use of the basalt columns!

Harpa

The Harpa Concert Hall was opened in May 2011. The distinctive building features a coloured glass façade inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. It was designed by Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The structure was originally supposed to be a part of a large development including a 400-room hotel, luxury apartments, retail area, restaurants, car park, trade centre, etc. however due to the 2008 world financial crisis the development was changed into a concert hall.

National Museum of Iceland

The National Museum of Iceland was established in 1863, and has been in its present location since 1950. The building is an Art Deco style building. Inside the building there are three floors, with the basement featuring photography from Spessi, and the second and third floors featuring historic artifacts from Iceland’s history. In a nutshell Iceland’s history began in the 800’s when Viking explorers from Norway settled the land. In the 930’s the chieftains had established their own form of governance, called Althing, making it one of the world’s oldest parliaments. In the early thirteenth century internal conflict arose, effectively ending the Icelandic Commonwealth. Norway, in turn, was united with Sweden in 1319 and Denmark in 1376. All the Nordic states were united in one alliance, called the Kalmar Union, which lasted between 1397 and 1523, however after its dissolution, Iceland fell under Danish ruling. The Danish-Icelandic ruling in the 17th and 18th centuries was crippling to the economy, which resulted in immense poverty and population decline, which was further hampered by several natural disasters including the “Mist Hardships”. Iceland remained part of Denmark, however in keeping with the rise of nationalism around Europe in the 19th century, and independence movement emerged. The Althing, which was suspended in 1799, was restored in 1844, and Iceland once again gained sovereignty after World War 1 on December 1st 1918, however shared the Danish Monarchy until the end of World War 2. Due to the island’s strategic position in the North Atlantic, the Allies occupied the island until the end of the war, with the United States taking over occupation duties from the British in 1941. Following World War 2 Iceland experienced large financial growth, largely due to fishing. The 2008-2011 financial crisis hit Iceland hard, however has since somewhat recovered.

Nordic House

The Nordic House was opened in 1968 and features cultural events and exhibitions, and even features a library with a collection of over over 30,000 items in seven languages, although oddly most are not in Icelandic. The modern style building was designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. A unique feature of the building is it’s unique shape of the roof, which echoes the range of mountains in the distance. Inside the building almost all the installed furnishings, lamps, and furniture are designed by Alvar Aalto.

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral is a Lutheran Church in Reykjavik that took 41 years to be built; starting in 1945 and was finished in 1986. The church stands 75 metres (244 feet) tall, and is one of the tallest structures in the country. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614–1674), author of the Passion Hymns. The architecture styles are a blend of expressionist neo-gothic, brutalism, and art deco. From up-top you have a beautiful unobstructed view of the entire city, including the close-by Reykjavik Airport, which I watched some planes land at.

Magic Ice Bar

The Magic Ice Bar is a bit of a tourist trap, however is a neat experience if you want to experience some ice sculpture art, have some very chilled alcoholic beverages, and hang out with friends then this is the place for you. Being a solo trip I found it quite lame, but the ice sculptures were neat.

Le Kock Restaurant

The Le Kock Restaurant serves a bunch of delicious items on its menu, including the “Dirty Harry” burger which is comprised of a grilled beef patty, bacon, mushroom “bomb”, pickled red onions, chipotle sauce, romaine salad and crispy onions, served on a Deig potato roll. I also had a side of chiptole potatoes. I highly recommend this place!

Puffins – Island of Lundey

On my final day in Iceland I took a tour with a company called Special Tours. The tour cost $59 CDN and was very well planned. We departed at 11:00am on August 20th and went to the island of Lundey, where there was thousands of Puffin’s getting ready for winter. I managed to get a few candid shots of the beautiful birds, including some with fish in their mouths. This was the last day of the year for the tour, and I was told its way livelier in the months of June and July.

This concludes my Iceland trip, however check back frequently as I’m always up to new adventures. I still have quite a few hiking adventures that I’ve taken, which I’ve yet to post. I still plan an Eastern Europe road trip when it’s safe to do so, and also plan on visiting Norway and Bali.

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Day Trip To Seattle

Last weekend I took a quick day trip to Seattle. I had to wake up at 4:30am in order to get to the airport for my 7:30 flight. I ended up meeting my father at the airport before his flight to Mexico (our flights were departing at roughly the same time). After my dad boarded his flight I was asked to show my passport for verification to the gate agent. While I was up there I asked if there was any upgrades available, and they put me in first class for no additional charge. The flight to Seattle was quick and smooth on the Embraer E-175. The breakfast selection was quite large, but I chose a “breakfast” cookie and a banana, as well as some coffee.

After landing in Seattle I picked up my rental vehicle, a Kia Sportage; not a bad car at all! I ended up getting a rock chip within the first 5 minutes of leaving the rental facility, but ended up talking my way out of having to pay for the repair.

I only had a day in Seattle so I made the best of it. My first stop was exploring old Seattle while I was waiting for the Museum of flight to open. After exploring around I still had some time to burn so I decided to get a breakfast burrito at a restaurant in an old fire hall called McCoy’s Firehouse. It was delicious and the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. After breakfast I went to the Museum of flight where I spent about 3.5 hours exploring around. I would have spent more time there, but there was other items on my list. I got to tick off a few bucket list items there; going on the last two Boeing’s that I have yet to step foot on (the Boeing 707 and 747). The Boeing 747 is a large plane, but I was blown away by how large it feels on the inside even compared to the 777.

After visiting the Museum of Flight I drove towards the Seattle Space Needle and parked my car. I went to the Chihuly Glass Museum and Gardens. The glasswork is absolutely amazing. The amount of detail and effort that goes into his work is phenomenal! I was getting hungry at this point in time so I googled a Vietnamese place that was close by and had some delicious Sate Beef Pho soup there.

The afternoon was spent driving around looking at various touristy places before going to the Seattle Gas Works Park, public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant that operated from 1906 to 1956. The plant was purchased by the City of Seattle for park purposes in 1962. The park opened to the public in 1975. An interesting thing to note about the former gasification plant is that synthetic gas was produced from burning coal.

After visiting the park it was almost time to go back to the airport, but I had one last stop to make, the Fremont Brewing Company, where I had a pint of their Lush IPA. Their Lush IPA is super hoppy with pleasant citrus notes. After enjoying my delicious IPA I fuelled up my rental vehicle, dropped off the rental vehicle, and went to the airport. At the airport I asked again if there were any upgrades, and again I was given a complimentary upgrade to First Class. Delta has definitely won me over! The flight back was extremely turbulent, which is typical for evening flights. If you want a nice smooth flight you have better luck on early morning flights with the cooler and denser air.

Take a look at my pictures of my trip below and enjoy!

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