This post was featured on Freshly Pressed March 22!
“MIDBORGIN OKKAR VELKOMIN” a sign states over the entrance to Reykjavik City-Center, as the Icelanders call the main road in Reykjavik, Iceland. This statement is an offer of welcoming, as the saying translates to “Our City, Welcome“.
I have never been a city person. Even though my house is no more than a two-hour drive from New York City, I have never visited the Big Apple for pleasure. The look of shock on the faces of the Icelanders at my hotel’s front desk when I told them this reveals that they found this simple fact to be unspeakable. However, as one Icelander pointed out, if you do not like the city then Reykjavik city is for you.
Around 60% of Iceland’s population lives in or closely around Reykjavik. This means that close to 240,000 people live in or near the city. However, you could never tell. As you can see from the above photograph, Reykjavik’s main city street is a one way road that is very narrow. There aren’t usually many cars driving down the road, and there seems to only be a few people as well, (except for Friday and Saturday nights when the bars are open until 4:00 am and the entire population jam-packs into hundreds of bars scattered throughout the city).
Overall, Reykjavik is considered one of, if not the cleanest cities in the world. This has a lot to do with everything they do in order to stay “green” which includes recycling everything, and not using oil to heat their homes. In fact, oil is really only found at gas stations and is obviously used to run motorized vehicles. So, how do Icelanders heat their homes? Iceland’s best natural resource is hot water. They currently have multiple hot water plants located all around Iceland, which to a traveler might look like a disgusting factory pouring dirty chemicals into the air. The truth is, when you see one of these plants, the stuff going into the air is no more than natural steam from the geothermal hot springs. These steam plants have drilled up to 300 meters into the ground, where steam as hot as 3,632F can be found, captured, and when captured, it attempts to escape from the earth at such a high rate of speed and with such force that it can be converted into electricity. The best part about this resource is that, unless the planet stops working how it should, it is an unlimitted natural resource that is much cheaper to process than oil. Furthermore, all throughout the city small square box-like buildings can be found that look as if they are coughing that same chemical into the air. Again, this is natural steam, and the building is built around a “hot-pot” in the city to protect and harness this natural resource. The steam is networked via pipelines to many different towns in Iceland, some town locations were even strategically placed in order to be built next to an area of many natural geothermal hot springs for this reason.
Here are a few photos of Reykjavik City, Iceland:
Reykjavik City Center
In Reykjavik, graffiti seems to be more of an art than anything.
A city surrounded by volcanic mountains like these is my kind of city.
This little lunch place is the most gung-ho “drink coke!” place I have ever seen! If/when they go out of business I’m sure they will make a fortune on Ebay selling all of the coke memorabilia.
Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran Church. The tallest church in Iceland. The statue is of Leif Eriksson, a Viking explorer who is said to have been the first European to land in North America– approximately 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The statue was a gift from the United States to celebrate the 1,000th year anniversary of Iceland’s parliament.
Inside Hallgrimskirkja Church. The practicing choir sounded beautiful.
Part of Reykjavik residential.
That concludes my short photo tour of Reykjavik, Iceland. I hope you enjoyed the walk through the city!
Once again, for those of you interested in Icelandic foods–
Tonight’s meal included:
Main course – Loin of Icelandic Lamb served with grilled vegetables, including – broccoli, green/red peppers, cucumber, mushrooms, and onion. Also served with potato wedges, topped with arugula lettuce and drizzled with, once again, a delicious sauce.
Drink – A Large glass of locally brewed VIKING beer to wash it down. VIKING beer might be the best I’ve ever had.
This was the second time I’ve eaten this because it is so delicious.
I also had a few questions earlier about Icelandic food…
Most Icelanders eat lots of meat. Traditionally this included char-grilled sheep’s head, some inner parts of the sheep, horse meat, and shark that had been left to dry in the sun (as well as rot) before eaten. Today, Icelanders eat lots of lamb, beef, puffin, whale, shark, and other sea foods including lobster, shrimp, and arctic salmon. Iceland is also known for the “World’s best hot-dog. There are also a few vegetarian restaurants around the City-Center for those of you who are completely grossed-out by this. One fun and interesting fact: here in Iceland you can find the world’s northernmost banana plantation. Bananas in Iceland? I swear it’s the truth.
Tomorrow I return to Blue Lagoon before flying home already. I wish I wasn’t leaving just yet, but I guess it is time to return. Just a note – I won’t be able to post until I return to Connecticut, so there probably won’t be a post for tomorrow. However, as soon as I return, next post: Blue Lagoon!
Nate – From Iceland.