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Sabin’s on the Sea 2023 - Day #25 - Reykjavík, Iceland (Day 1)

by Nina Sabin - Travel Blog

Waking up and looking across the water to Icelandic villages, towns, and cities has been unbelievable. Once place is even more unique and special than the next.

Reykjavik is the capital and largest city of Iceland. It is located in southwestern Iceland, on the southern shore of Faxaflói bay.

Reykjavík has a population of around 140,000 as of 2023, and the Capital Region has a population of around 248,000.

The city was officially founded in 1786 as a trading town and grew steadily over the following decades as it transformed into a regional and later national center of commerce, population, and governmental activities.

Large ships dock at the cruise terminal by the ferry terminal. While we were visiting there were four other cruise ships visiting. Three of them were docked at the ferry terminal. The terminal is approximately 2 miles east of the downtown or a 45 minute walk along the water.

Free shuttles are available for cruise passengers. However, with five other cruise ships, we didn’t know how easy full the shuttles would be.

Today was the first time we didn’t have to get a tender ticket. Usually, we want to be the first ones out to explore. However, the Zuiderdam didn’t dock until 11 am. We knew for at least a couple of hours the tenders were going to be packed.

Since we have been to Reykjavik before and the last tender was not until 11:30 pm, we thought it would be nice to have relaxing morning and let the crowds and ship excursions clear out before going to the tender.

Having the $10 option to get internet from AT&T has been such a blessing. It is so nice to be able to relax in our cabin and catch up on emails and social media.

After a nice nonchalant morning and lunch, we were ready to get off the ship. By that time it was open tender and we no longer needed to get tender tickets.

Once off the vessel, we were able to get the cruise shuttle with ease at Skarfabakki Cruise Terminal.

The bus stopped along the waterfront in front of Harpa, the concert hall and conference center.

Along our ride along the water we saw the famous ‘Solfar’ or Sun Voyager sculpture. This remarkable metal sculpture that resembles a viking war ship was built by Icelandic sculptor Jon Gunnar Arnason. The Icelanders see it as a symbol “ode to the sun” symbolizing light and hope.

Once off the shuttle we began our walking journey began.

As we waking along the Old Harbor memories flooded in of visiting six years ago. Things looked very much the same. Back then we did a puffin tour. All we can remember was being on a rocky boat, feeling sick, and seeing this tiny shapes through binoculars from the small fishing boat. Even though the water appeared to be calmer, we decided to stay away from having that experience again.

There are many museums to explore like the Reykjavik Maritime Museum, Perlan, Aurora Reykjavik (Northern Lights exhibit, Icelandic Phallalogical museum, to just name a few. We aren’t really museum connoisseurs; we prefer the outdoors and nature.

With that being said our journey continued along the Old Harbor for hours as we admired the all types and sizes of fishing boats, whale watching boats, and sailboats.

Towards the end of the Old Harbor Þúfa, a man-made, eight meter, grass-grown mound, that you can follow the path of the specially made steps that spirals around the mound to the top. On top stands a wooden frame where fish is dried.

Þúfa is known as the bridge between nature and the city.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I am traveling I feel like I need the bathroom more often. At the harbor there is the Ocean Cluster House. It hosts restaurants and other businesses for the workers ad visitors to the harbor. It is a great place to sit and relax after walking. The Ocean Cluster House has public bathrooms and free wifi access as well. After waking for two and a half hours, this was the perfect place to take a break and catch our breath.

Next on the agenda was heading into the heart of the city to the Visit Reykjavik at City Hall tourist center. Along the way we stopped at a corner market to enjoy a nice snack of local beer, local chips, and of course some chocolates for our sweet tooth.

The visitor center is only open from 8 am till 4 pm. Even though it was after five when we arrived to that area, it was not the visitor center we wanted to see but the Tjörnin pond adjacent to the visitor center. This is the local park in the area and is filed with beautiful birds, ducks, and swans. A great place to be still and admire the beauty of Reykjavik, both city and nature.

You can’t miss the tantalizing art of this city. Three specific murals we wanted to see were the mermaid, Albert Einstein & 2pac Shakur, and one of the Vikings.

Our last stop for the day was the Hallgrímskirkja church, the tallest building in Iceland. The Leif Eriksson Memorial is outside. It is a great place to take pictures both inside and out.

Tomorrow we have another day in Reykjavík. There is so much to see and we are glad to have these two days to get in all we can of this marvelous city.

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