05 June 2016

Reykjavik 871+- 2

Our second day in Iceland was spent in the capital city, Reykjavik. As I often do, I found the free city tour and set off to learn about the city. 

According to legend, Ingólfur Arnarson founded the town in 871. He allegedly set two logs out to sea and said he would live where they landed. He sent his slaves to find the logs and they did so at what is today Reykjavik. This monument in town represents those logs:

He called the settlement Reykjavik, smokey water, because he saw the geothermic steam. However, evidence of settlements pre-871 has been found. Thus now they say that Reykjavik was founded in 871+- 2. 
Modern Reykjavik is a progressive society. Iceland is home to the first democratically elected female president, and the first openly gay prime minister. Gay marriage has been legal since 1996, and women have had the right to vote since 1915. Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world, there is no army and the police do not carry guns.
Iceland does have a coast guard, with two ships. However, according to our tour guide, these ships never move.
During a gay pride parade, a statue was adorned with lipstick. The prime minister has not let them clean it off. It is still proudly wearing it's lipstick and proclaiming the friendliness and openness to all.
After our tour we visited the Settlement Museum and learned about the historical settlements in the area. Then we headed to the harbor for lunch. I had the catch of the day, and it was amazing!
We completed our day by boarding a boat for a Puffin sight-seeing tour. We took the boat out into the harbor and to some nearby islands, where we spotted some puffins. They were much smaller than I expected! 

A few more interesting sights around town:
The concert hall is designed to light up and give the effect of the Northern Lights:

This square in the center of town was built a top a cemetery. A few gravestones are still on display:

Houses are built of wood, and then covered in corrugated metal to protect them from the elements. 

This sculpture is not only aesthetically pleasing with its Viking ship image, it also is designed to be perfectly aligned with the summer solstice. It will illuminate itself with the sun during the solstice.

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