Well a few hours ago, I got back home after five wonderful days in Reykjavik a place I had wanted to visit for a long time. This isn’t a travel blog so I don’t intend to give a detailed account of my holiday – I just wanted to share a few experiences and pictures. As you will see – in five days we had every kind of weather, conditions change very quickly in Reykjavik.
My friends and I stayed in a lovely residence hotel that is right in the centre of Reykjavik, and was perfect for getting around. The city is very pretty, quirky – and really rather cool – the view across the harbour is spectacular – as is the view from the top of Hallsgrimskira – the stunning white church that is such a focal point in the city – a place I loved so much I bought a little snow globe of it. The day we went up the tower it was snowing – blizzarding rather – the pictures we took from the top are of a very snowy Reykjavik – we certainly got a little taste of Icelandic weather.
One thing I saw plenty of as I wandered around Reykjavik – was readers – I saw lots of people reading. Some of them sat in the windows of Harpa – the stunning concert hall and conference centre – another place I rather fell in love with, others sat in cafes and coffee shops – there are lots of those. I particularly liked the Te og Kaffi chain some of which incorporate books shops. I am a big tea drinker, and in Iceland the tea came hot, black and strong – just as I like it. Books are very expensive in Iceland – so I didn’t buy any – although there were both English and Icelandic books for sale.
Many of you will know I have been involved in Bookcrossing for over a decade. One of the friends I went with had already been to Iceland four times, and introduced the rest of us (we all originally met through Bookcrossing) to an Icelandic bookcrosser she has known for a few years. We swapped some books, and chatted about Iceland over Icelandic fish and chips.
I took The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West and my kindle to Iceland. As I boarded the plane on Monday, I was only thirty pages into Rebecca West, and I didn’t finish it until about an hour after I got home. Busyness and a fairly dense almost 400 pages meant I was forced to read quite slowly. Two very late evenings of our five nights were spent Northern Lights hunting rather than curled up with books. We got lucky on our second attempt – a wonderful experience seeing those elusive streaks of green lurking behind the cloud, fading and coming back, fading and coming back. I didn’t get pictures, photographing the Northern lights is a real skill. Liz did get a picture however and has given me permission to use it.
Even the first attempt where we didn’t see the Northern lights was wonderful – we stood in snowy darkness at Thingvellir National Park – with the most extraordinary blanket of stars above us. It was unlike anything I had ever seen in my life – in some ways more spectacular than the Northern lights we saw on Thursday. So, the lights came out for us – though cloud meant we weren’t treated to the most spectacular showing – but we saw them!
I will review The Fountain Overflows in a day or two – but I really, really enjoyed it. Rather slow to get going, I ended up really taking to the narrator Rose, her mother, brother and sisters. It is the first novel in a trilogy – and I can’t remember ever reading anything much about the other two books, The Real Night and Cousin Rosamund – so I will have to look out for them now too. I hope they live up to the first book.
The one small disappointment came on our last day, the weather closed in all over Iceland – and roads were closed all over the Island. Our big trip The Golden Circle Tour was cancelled – which gives me a perfect excuse to go back to Iceland one day – and I got the chance to spend one last afternoon in Te og Kaffi with Rebecca West and several cups of tea.
Takk fryir, Iceland – see you again one day.