Mary and I kicked off our two-week Iceland honeymoon with three days in Reykjavik, giving us a chance to have a relatively relaxed start to our vacation before we started traipsing all across the country. Reykjavik is a very modern, very European, very fashionable, very expensive, very safe, and very small city. It’s also very photogenic, although I quickly realized that a severe downside to summer days with 20 hours of sun is that, well, that’s a whole lot of direct sunlight and not too many opportunities for good outdoor light except on cloudy days.
We did a number of the classic touristy things that one does while in Iceland’s capital city; visiting the immense, imposing Hallgrímskirkja church was one of the first, although it wasn’t until the second time we went that I got the above headline shot (the light was just terrible the first time). We also spent quite some time hanging out in cafes - Reykjavik is well-known for an abundance of coffee shops, most of which serve excellent coffee and have a lot of character. Our favorites were Cafe Hljómskálinn, a two-story octagonal building right on Lake Tjörnin downtown, and Babalú, a ridiculously cute and friendly cafe just down the street from Hallgrímskirkja. We spent some time there browsing the Reykjavik Grapevine, the local alt-weekly English-language paper that turned out to be absolutely hilarious:
Probably the most touristy thing we did was spend an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon, the most famous of the country’s countless hot springs, which has become developed into a massive tourist attraction thanks to its location halfway between Reykjavik and the international airport at Keflavik. Just outside the main hot springs, one can wander around the creepily opaque-white water and peer at the geothermal power plant in the distance:
Inside the facility, it looked more like this…
Our hotel was about a 20-minute walk from downtown, walkable either through the main downtown drag or along the waterfront. We walked back along the water one evening and were treated with dramatic dark skies while the sun was still fully out: a really neat combination that tends to happen in mid-Atlantic North America only right before or after big thunderstorms. It turned out to be a pretty common occurrence in Iceland, which both of us thought was rather awesome.
The morning of our final day in Reykjavik, before we boarded a noonish flight to Akureyri (Iceland’s second largest city at a whopping 17,000 people), I wandered down to the harbor in the hopes of catching a few photos of the harbor at work. I underestimated the time it took to get there, though, and ended up just shooting some photos at what seemed to be a near-abandoned pier. Although it wasn’t what I set out to do, I ended up with some shots I’m very happy with, like this macro of a rope tied to the pier:
And this semi-closeup of a building under construction on the waterfront, east of the harbor:
Walking back from the harbor, I stumbled across the city’s main Catholic church, which while not nearly as visually striking as Hallgrímskirkja, definitely had something of its own charm, especially in the crisp morning air with no one around. I spent some time walking around the church and looking for different angles; I’m happiest with this shot, using one of the statues in the front lawn as a foreground subject.
And then later that morning it was off to Akureyri - and the beginning of our trip around the far less-traveled parts of Iceland, including a couple of multi-day backpacking trips through some astounding scenery. Photos to come, of course! In the meantime, check out all my posted photos of our first three days in Reykjavik, over at Flickr.
(Also: the people of Reykjavik made for fantastic photo subjects, but I didn’t really get around to taking a ton of people pictures until we returned to the city for the last couple days of our trip. So those are coming later.)