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Waterlooville's Parish Magazine
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Iceland, (Part 2)

In Reykjavik we settled into the modern Youth Hostel. This was a far more cosmopolitan affair but Colin and I were not the only SAGA members there. The kitchens were much more “studenty” and always full of trailing laptop leads and dirty tea towels – so we ate out! Our room was basic but en suite and much bigger than a cross channel ferry cabin and bathroom. We looked out over the virtually empty camping ground to one of the several outdoor, thermally heated swimming pools. You could tell what the temperatures were like by the steam rising from the pool complex. The city was very windy and we had to fight our way across the square to visit the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja and statue of Liefur Eiriksson (discoverer of America).

The Cathedral

The Church is a modern 20th Century building, created to look like organ pipes and we gather that the organ inside is famous for its size – and the fact that they are still encouraging people to “buy” bits of it so they can finish paying for it. It is beautifully simple inside, very peaceful and with all the grandeur of our own gothic cathedrals. One is advised not to rely on the time keeping of the city’s exterior clocks as the high winds play havoc with the hands.

Statue facing cathedral

I loved the stainless steel Viking longboat sculpture down by the waterfront but the shopping centres were a disappointment – full of English chains, including Debenhams!! Apparently night life at weekends is buzzing in spite of the high cost of drinks. Long dark winters lead to major depression and the cost of alcohol is kept high to try to alleviate the highest suicide rate in Europe. Eating out could easily have been confined to Pizza Hut and MacDonalds etc. There was very little to buy that was Icelandic as everything is obviously imported. We avoided the cement and fish museums – the only home grown industries it would seem. The radio station also seemed to have a fairly limited play list and we laughed every time Jolene was played – it became a bit of a theme tune to the holiday.

Viking Longboat

Rosemary Monk

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page last updated 09 September 2008