We arrived in Reykjavik on the morning of Iceland's annual cultural festival. The weather was sunny and comfortable, even if it was a little cooler than back home, and the streets were full of locals and tourists enjoying the sun.
Over the next two or three days we would find the city easy to walk around and full of small pleasures and surprises. Its architectural centre would be the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja church, seen in the above shot. It is one of the tallest buildings in Iceland and turned out to be an easily visible landmark that helped me navigate the city. The place we stayed at (more about that later) was a short block from the church so I got to see it from various angles and in different lights. But, as I said, there were many small pleasures to be had in the streets of Reykjavik.
We took a walking tour of the historical heart of the city and got a sense of the personal scale that envelopes the country's history and present identity. They are a well educated, literate and friendly population and almost everyone we encountered spoke very good English.
Here is Katherine, Sally and Heather with our guide (can you spot the Icelander?). Some of the interesting facts we learned were: that Iceland had the first Parliament; that the man who wrote the first letter to the Danish Government requesting autonamy for Iceland was called President, because he was the president of a local book club; and my favorite, every year, one tree in Iceland is named 'Tree of the Year'. They don't have a lot of trees in Iceland.
One of the other features of the city is a small body of water that is known simply as 'The Pond'.
As I said, I got to see the church many times. I even went into it once with Dan, Christel's father. We watched, and listened to, two young musicians perform an atmospheric jam. The pipe organ was really impressive and beautiful.
Along with the various events we saw, and slept through (the jet lag finally caught up to us), Reykjavik was a very comfortable city to land in. It was quite different from the overwhelming size and bustle of Tokyo from several years ago.