A few hours. A national holiday. A lack of layers. A festering head cold.
These were all the things I had to combine when I walked out of Bus Hostel and ventured down into Reykjavik city centre on the 17th of June this year. I climbed Hallgrímskirkja, uncovered the graffiti-covered heart of Reykjavik and watched Icelandic families celebrate their national holiday. I have a few lasting memories of that day.
Firstly, that it was chilly. As summers go, Iceland is far from guaranteed one that rivals the Mediterranean. But that said, there were sunny, warm days during my stay in June. But on this particular day it was overcast and cold, which was chilled further by a determined wind. What I loved was how well prepared and dressed the Icelandic people were for this. Perhaps they never pack away their thick coats and woolly hats, even during the summer months. After spending part of winter in Finland and Norway, I now have the utmost respect for countries that live more in winter than out of it. Secondly, I loved watching how the Icelandic people were celebrating their national holiday. For it was a family affair. With street performances, live music and impromptu games much more focused on children than adults. How did I detect this? Well, because when I stumbled upon the teenagers who were hanging out in Heart Park they were drinking coffee, not beer. It's a little depressing that I'm more used to national holidays (in the UK and also in other countries) being an opportunity for underage drinking. Personally I associate national holidays with drinking, eating and sitting around in the sun with my loved one/s rather than mingling with other families - young and old - no matter the weather. In other words, perhaps NewMan and I need to toughen up and contribute a little more to "community", no matter which community we're in at the time. Food for thought... Thirdly, Reykjavik is one of the most colourful cities I've ever seen. Yes, literally speaking, thanks to the quirky colours of its quaint houses, but also in its personality too. They say that small dogs can have big personalities, well if the same goes for cities, then Reykjavik has to be a leading example of this. And after these observations, here are some more photos. This is the last of my posts from Iceland, I think. I feel strangely sad about that. As though I should book some flights to go back right away. I suppose it must have something to do with being fairly "stationary" in Amsterdam at the moment but I can't stop checking Expedia for an escape anywhere at the moment.
Iceland was the last country I expected to go to this year, but in many ways it will be the one that stays with me the longest, almost haunting me. In five days I learned more about a country, a landscape a people than I thought possible. With a tenuous family connection (NewMan's step-father is Icelandic) I hope to go back and explore Iceland further, closer, deeper. And soon.
Frances M. Thompson
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