|Best laid plans||Continents and Caves||Reykjavikian ambiance||Waterfalls and sunsets||Human wrecks and legacies||Kristinartindar: The Journey is the Reward||The finding of firsts, and birthday peace||The endurance of history in Snæfellsnes||The edge of the Earth||An unexpected discovery||Community, love, betrayal, and sharks||The adventure comes full circle|
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After our kind taxi encounter, Hrunting and I were quite eager to relax for a while in the quaint capital of Icelandic hospitality. Reykjavik boasts a modest population of 120,000, but as you enter its core, you get a very different sense of it modernity and artistry. Perhaps it's because the city is surrounded by majestic landscapes, but you'll see that much of the creative architecture is bleeding edge, and there are many art installations also scattered around the city's blocks highlighting Icelandic and Viking heritage.
If you have more time than I to spend wandering around Reykjavik, there are many things to do, restaurants to visit, activities to experience, and its night life is said to be quite lively and entertaining. There are so many sites to see in the city that I had to limit my trip to a small handful; primarily those marked by geocaches aiming to encourage visitors to appreciate landmarks.
Gracing the northern shoreline of Reykjavik you'll find a very prominent and special art installation called Sólfar. It was designed in 1986 by Jón Gunnar in a competition to commemorate Reykjavik's 200th anniversary.
Contrary to first impression, it's not a Viking ship. But it is a vessel - it's an ode to the sun, a symbol of light and hope, of new and undiscovered territory, to the earliest settling of Iceland.
You'll have a nice walk down the rocky shore and walkway along Sæbraut, probably alongside many other locals and visitors enjoying the view. This part of the city is lined with restaurants and stores, with the Harpa Concert Hall to the west, mountains across the bay to the north, the famous Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church to the south, and more of Reykjavik stretching to the east. Parking areas cost by the hour in high-traffic areas, but are not all that expensive (if you're lucky enough to nab a spot), or you can park a few blocks away and strike out on foot. I used this parking reference as a guide.
In 2014, as the EVE Online role playing game celebrated its 10th anniversary with the internet world, the game's developer, CCP Games headquartered in Reykjavik, built a monument to commemorate its gaming community. Here, you'll find three spires atop a solid base, and on the base are inscribed thousands of registered gamers' names as of March 2014. CCP Games also created a website to look up your name on the monolithic installation, and you can watch its unveiling on Youtube. It's certainly a point of pride for Reykjavik and this game developer studio.
Many developers, if honouring their community, tend to create a form of digital commemoration within their game itself - a list of supporters in the credits, or perhaps naming characters or places after certain people, or names chosen via polling. It's quite a move to build a physical art installation dedicated to the fan-base. When I came across this location via Atlas Obscura, my curiosity got the better of me. I didn't read enough though to know how the names were engraved before visiting, and failed to locate any.
So, if you stop to examine the work, make sure to take a very, very close look at the base. You might want a magnifying glass!
If you are or know someone who played EVE Online before March 2014, be sure to find their name here and take a selfie with it!
As I mentioned earlier, food in Iceland is not cheap. Most everywhere you look, people will tell you that eating at restaurants is an expensive affair. You will certainly find that to be the case! In an effort to keep my costs down, I intended top adopt the strategy of buying personal food and drink supplies from a grocery store to last the duration of my trip. But I want to have at least one reasonable restaurant experience.
You'll find many, many recommended locations to eat in Reykjavik. From Icelandic variants on a few world-known franchises (such as Subway, Quiznos, and KFC - for better or worse, there are no McDonalds in Iceland!), to home-style restaurants and classy dining locales. Sushi and hamburgers are also fairly common staples.
For my tastes, I decided on a nice sit-down restaurant that specialized in hamburgers, with a good bent towards Icelandic ambiance, without being too costly on the wallet. Hamborgarafabrikkan (The Hamburger Factory) has two locations in Reykjavik, so I planned to meet up with another fellow geocacher at noon at Höfðatorg Tower.
The geocaching community is, overall, a very friendly worldwide community of enthusiasts, and often quite excited to meet up at hosted events. Iceland however, compared to my home of Ontario, is relatively slow and quiet on the geocaching front, so only "Lokantl" was able to come by for lunch. But he was quite friendly and interesting to chat with ! Subjects of course included geocaching, weather, and politics -- it was fascinating to learn about some of the current political climate first-hand that you don't necessarily read about on foreign (non-Icelandic) websites, and the controversies therein. Little things, community issues, the perspectives from local citizens on current tourism trends and governmental decisions. It was also point of delight to learn that Iceland has a legitimate political party called the "Pirate Party"!
As we talked, I examined the newspaper-like menu, looking for a meal that would contain some fare unique to Iceland. I eventually settled on the juicy, large, and absolutely wonderful Animal Park burger, containing beef and lamb, and "loaded with domestic animals" (though I'm still not sure what else that entailed here!). The meal came with the usual soft drink and fries, and the cost was 2,995 krona. In Canadian terms, that was a whopping $42 - for a 'burger and fries' lunch.
Yes, budget for your meals!
After our lunch, Lokantl and I took a short walk around some nearby blocks to visit a couple of geocaches. One of them was the next one on my list -- the largest geocache listed in Iceland.