Roaming Around Reykjavik

During the past three weeks, I have made it a point to stay in Reykjavík. I wanted to get to know the city a little better and get ahead on some of my schoolwork. However, it wasn’t boring by any means. The streets are full of hidden gems, including street art, museums, heated outdoor pools and statues around every corner, which when coupled with the colored roofs and cobblestone streets, add to the city’s overall Scandinavian feel.

I live by a small lake named Tjörnin, which directly translates to “pond.” It has frozen and unfrozen countless times but is always filled with swans, ducks, pigeons and sometimes seagulls. It makes the walk to class feel like UW-Madison: along the water, cold and windy.

Last weekend, I visited the Reykjavík Art Museum, which featured a large gallery by Yoko Ono. There was a multitude of participatory exhibits, each with a sign inviting the visitor to perform a certain task. They were fun to do, but it was also equally interesting to see the work of other museum-goers. A few examples include writing a memory of your mother on the wall, stamping your location on a map or hanging a wish on the wish tree.

A few days ago, my dad visited me, and I got to give him a tour of the city. We went to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, a church in the heart of downtown Reykjavík that holds the title of the tallest building in Iceland. The view was amazing, and it was great to see the city from a different perspective. We proceeded to do a few other tourist-y things, including getting famous Icelandic hot dogs for lunch.

On Saturday the city hosted a Northern Lights 5k, although the lights did not make an appearance. It was still cool to see the city covered in different colors, like the bright lights displayed on the Harpa concert hall on the coast. I have seen a few flickers of aurora borealis since I’ve been here, but nothing like you see in advertisements for Iceland. February is supposedly the best month to see them. It may take a trek out of the city to get the view I am so desperately seeking.

When I first arrived, there were about 4.5 hours of daylight, from around 11 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. every day. I am still getting used to living in darkness and walking to class at 9 a.m. with the sky still asleep, but luckily the sun is rising earlier by the day. One month later, the city receives about 7.5 hours of daylight, and we are well on our way to no nighttime darkness at all.