"" Writer's Wanderings: Port of Call - Reykjavik, Iceland

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Port of Call - Reykjavik, Iceland

Mountains, some snowcapped, some resembling a cake glazed with white icing dripping in the crevices contrasted with blue skies and air so clear that images miles away were sharply defined. Iceland had greeted us with a picture-perfect welcome—travel brochure quality. We feasted on the view from the Lido restaurant on the upper deck of the Crystal Serenity as we ate breakfast, eager to hear the announcement that we were cleared to go ashore. Below us were mounds of fish nets perfectly illustrating the major industry for this beautiful country.

Our day in Reykjavik was well-thought out thanks to our on board lecturer Jon Sigurdsson. A walk into town would be followed by a tour to outer areas surrounding the city. We donned our layers of clothing expecting the sunny day to be crisp or fresh as many on board ship called a cool breezy day. Solid ground beneath our feet was a pleasant change from a moving ship and we breathed in the wonderful scents of the North Atlantic seacoast.

The path into town was easy to find from the pier and we were soon setting our sights on the city of Reykjavik before us. We easily recognized the landmark church with its rocket-ship shape. Birds frolicked in the water along the shoreline. In the cliffs of Iceland, we hoped to see puffins. They would not be here in the harbor area.

Before long, we were unzipping the outer layer of clothes. The morning sun warmed us as we walked. On our left, just outside the city, we passed the large white house that was the site of the 1986 summit meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev. It is said the host had only ten days notice of the event.

We were told that on a clear day you could see for 75 miles even though the city’s name, Reykjavik, means “Bay of Smoke.” The name comes from the geothermal steam vents that provide running hot water and central heating for the whole city and make outdoor swimming a year-round possibility. Of course all that geothermal steam comes from the volcanic action below the terrain of Iceland. Such a peaceful place. Hard to imagine that at any given time one of its many volcanoes could begin to spew ash and lava as happened in 2010 to shut down air traffic through Europe.

At the edge of the city, we turned inward and began a short climb to Hallgrimskirkja, the iconic church of Reykjavik. It is said to be the tallest and most striking in Iceland. I only hoped they had an elevator.

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