June 20, 2009
The note we had left on Neil and Christine’s door said we would meet for breakfast at 8:30 am. And at 8:30 am there was a knock on our door. It was Neil, saying that Christine was still asleep, as they had had the World’s Slowest Rental Car Agent and they had finally arrived at the hostel at 3 am! We then modified our breakfast time for 9:15 am.
Once we had finished our breakfast and tea, we organized our day. Our car, which was parked just outside, was a Suzuki Grand Vitara. This was an “upgrade” from what we had expected to get. The first thing on our list was to add Rosemary’s name as the extra driver on the car, so Neil wouldn’t have to do all the driving. Then we went to the BSÍ terminal to inquire about buying bus tickets for our trip to Landmannalaugar. As we had read, the procedure was to just show up on the day and buy them then.
Business taken care of, our next stop was the Viðey ferry terminal. When we saw that the ferry would be leaving in a few minutes, we decided right then to take it, and to have lunch on the island. This weekend was half-price fares, which made it even cheaper to take the 8-minute trip.
The day was cold and cloudy, and there was a pretty strong wind. Once on the island we stopped at the main building to have lunch, sitting at a table outside the house. Viðey is the site of a large 18th-century house, built by one of the power elite of the time. Earlier there had been a monastery and a village on the island, but now it is left to the artists and the historians and the birds. We had picked up a brochure telling us about the island and its highlights, so we headed along the trails. Along the way we passed bird nesting areas, with noisy oystercatchers, and around the shoreline there were several eider families with their young.
Not far along there was a Yoko Ono statue entitled “Imagine Peace”. Today it was a simple white cylinder, but apparently it illuminates the sky on special occasions. There was also an installation of 18 basalt pillars around the north end of the island.
The house was the focus of the historical part. There weren’t many historical artifacts, though, mostly signs explaining things. There was also a small church and graveyard which have been preserved. However there was also a restaurant, where we stopped and bought lamb soup and some tea. It was very good and just the thing to warm us up.
By now it was 3:45 pm, so it was decided to forego seeing the other end of the island and instead to head back to the hostel, stopping at a market en route. Christine had been to Iceland before – in fact she was the one who suggested we should do this trip – so she directed us to a 10-11 store where we stocked up on food. She was very keen on having lamb for dinner, so we got a package of lamb chops there along with some junk food.
Back at the hostel, Neil and Christine snoozed while Rosemary and Paul went over to the Bonús store to see if they happened to have fresh lamb chops (they didn’t). But we bought some bread and some fresh vegetables.
As we had had a late snack, we decided to wander around Reykjavík before dinner. Near Tjörnin we stopped and demonstrated the self-cleaning WC we had found on our first day there! We spent some time looking at the Einar Jónsson sculptures in the outdoor gallery, then headed to Hallgrímskirkja so that we could go up the tower. It was unfortunate that the tower was under scaffolding, because it did impair our view of the city, but needless to say the view was quite good.
After leaving there we headed straight downhill past several artisan shops. We then headed back to our hostel, looking in various shops along the way, and Neil finally got to use a bank machine. By now it was 8 pm so instead of cooking our dinner we opted to go to the Icelandic Fish and Chips restaurant. It was located one block from the hostel and served delicious fish and chips. Rosemary had haddock (we knew that was a white fish) and Paul had something called ling (also a white fish). The batter was made from organic spelt flour which was very good. All four of us really enjoyed the meal. Back at the hostel we retired to our rooms and headed to bed at the reasonable time of 11 pm.