Part of the borderline insane schedule we’d set ourselves was seeing Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe. It was a great highlight, helping us to understand exactly why Shakespeare’s audience was enthralled and sucked into the drama.
1. Southwark Bridge. They like to play with colour under the Southwalk Bridge, a nice sight when one walks towards the Globe.
2 – 5. The Globe. It’s a fascinating place to see Shakespeare performed, from the groundlings to the theatre in the round. Plus, there was the added bonus of a bit of pre theatre music, including a very cute viol player.
Cute Viol Player
Exterior of the Globe
Returning to London, on Day 10, we went to stay in South London this time, another relatively inexpensive place to stay. No view, of course. I went out and photographed some London Cliches, with a twist, of course.
1. Some People are Gay… Stonewall was running a campaign on the side of buses – in people’s faces, which was great. It would be good to see a similar campaign run here. It was a bit stark, though, coming from Iceland, which elected its first gay Prime Minister not all that long ago.
Some People Are Gay…
2. Barbarellas. I didn’t check if the staff wore costumes from the film.
3. The Phallic London Buildings. London likes a building springing straight into the air.
4. Spiral Staircase. One climbs up the London Monument to do two things – look at London, and look down the spiral staircase.
5. London Misty Day. I’m sure someone won an award for this building – it’s fairly unremarkable, but looked better disappearing into the mist.
The second feature of the day is showing more about the churches of Iceland – quite a stunning set of buildings.
1. Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavik
3. Abandoned Church on Route 523
Abandoned Church on Route 523
4. Hvalfjordur Church – Next to the Hotel Glymur
5. Skalholt Cathedral
Inside Skalholt Cathedral
Stained glass at Skalholt
When in Iceland, we saw a number of interesting houses. The photos today are architectural highlights of the week.
2. Blue House – Akranes
Blue House – Akranes
3. Two Story House on Route 518
Two Story House on Route 518
Abandoned Farmhouse 2
5. Houses in Reykjavik
Our last night in Reykjavik was spent at the art deco Hotel Borg. It’s a great hotel to stay in if you want to see what a miniature version of a European city looks like – with its cafes, nightclubs, restaurants buzzing. Plus, in our case, an easily accessed laundromat cafe. I spent quite a nice time reading through some provided copies of local music magazines while waiting for the clothes to wash. Though, when we got there, we discovered the Borg doesn’t have parking, which led to a moment where we arrived in our hire car, unloaded the car and then got hit with a parking fine as we checked in. The hotel, though, being of class, picked up the tab. I would recommend, however, feeding the meter before you check in.
1 – 4. Hotel Borg Design. The Borg, which has been recently redecorated, really played on the fact it was built in the Art Deco period.
Hotel Borg Elevator
Statue in the Hotel Borg
Hotel Borg Exterior
5. Goodbye – Harpa at Night. The next morning, while it was still dark at 6am, I was out and about, having had trouble sleeping. I talked to the doorman on duty and mentioned that if it was Sydney, there would be people out and about, getting ready for the day. This surprised him. In Reykjavik, there was no-one but us – nothing open but the petrol stations. However, Harpa’s lights are on at all times, switching into different patterns. This was the last, lingering image of Iceland.
Harpa at Night
Actually, no it wasn’t. This was the last photo I took in Iceland. This video shop.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and we regretted somewhat that we booked only 6 days and 7 nights in Iceland – but as a spontaneous “hey why not” discussion over some Eurovision, it was still a week of excellence. The last day in Iceland featured a wet morning, where we went from Laugavatn, through the Þingvellir National Park into Reykjavik.
1. Þingvallakirkja in Þingvellir National Park. With the wet weather and seemingly little open in the National Park, we scooted through it. This was the church near a beautiful lake – the area of the National Park was where the country’s first parliament met. Not that we saw it.
2. Boats from the Harpa Concert Hall. The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre is a remarkable place – in that it was planned before the GFC, as a part of a wider development including an international hotel. After the GFC, the development still went along because the nation considered it important. The glass and metal facade was designed by Ólafur Elíasson – and acts as a piece of art as well as a structural framework.
Boats from the Harpa
3. The Shapes of the Harpa. I couldn’t really get enough of taking photos from different angles of the Harpa.
Shapes of Harpa 1
Shapes of Harpa 2
Shapes of Harpa 3
4. The Concert Hall Spaces. I must admit to some jealousy of the concert hall setup – it’s a form and function concert hall, unlike Sydney’s Opera House. There are conference spaces as well as a chamber music space with changeable colours to go with the music.
Harpa Chamber Music Space
Harpa Concert Hall
5. Acoustic Space. One of the most impressive features of the concert hall were the flexible spaces around the main concert hall designed by US acoustic experts. A bit different to what happened in Sydney. This one just looks like a set of stairs somewhere – but they’re not. It was a chance to do some art instead a blank space.
An acoustic space
After a fairly lonely lunch at the Geysir complex – clearly October is the slow time for most of the Big Tourist Spots, it was time to see the sites lots of people see. First was Strokkur, the geysir that is actually working at this time.
1. Strokkur. This has many tourists standing around it, waiting to take video footage. Must be madness in peak season.
2 – 5. Gullfoss. It pays not to do all that much research on what Iceland looks like before you go – I just did reading. That’s because you are open to be stunned by what things look like (says he who is doing a pictorial tour). These pictures were taken with me getting closer and closer to the centre of the falls – there are few ropes, so good shoes helped.
6. Laugavatn Geothermal Pool. After leaving Gullfoss, we made our way to Laugavatn, which had a geothermal pool complex that featured a small lap pool, paddling pools and a large pot, all at 35 – 45 degrees – as well as saunas. Lovely and romantic at night with the sun sinking. We didn’t have the camera with us at night, but we took a photo of it the next overcast morning.
Coming back from Skaftafell, we were going back via what is called the Golden Circle. The morning started well, with us seeing precisely where we were staying.
1. The Fosshotel at Skaftafell. To the left of the photos were the rooms of the hotel.
Fosshotel in Skaftafell
2. American Style Landscape. Iceland’s landscape is so varied that you get a number of different landscapes crammed into the one country. This one looks like something you get in the west of the US, except with the lava field next to it.
American Style Landscape
US Landscape 2
3. Islands off Vik. These islands are off the most southernmost point of the country – an ethereal spot.
Islands off Vik
4. If I Could Live Anywhere… It would be here, right? No wonder so many people in Iceland write literature.
If I could live anywhere…
5. Skálholt Cathedral. After we went off Route 1, we headed towards the Geysir and Gullfoss. Before them, however, there was the old headquarters of the Icelandic church, Skálholt Cathedral. A beautiful church and the image of Jesus, done in mosaic tiles, is as beautiful a representation of Jesus as I have seen.
Jesus Mosaic in Skálholt
Driving along Route 1, lava fields got a touch boring. By the time we reached Skaftafell, the temptation was to stop for the day, but I read something somewhere about a place called Jökulsárlón – apparently it was worth looking at. I didn’t see any pictures of it, however. So, we drove the extra 50 kilometres and this is what we saw.
1. Jökulsárlón Apparently there is a problem with cars running into each other in peak holiday period, when people see the lagoon for the first time. I can see why.
2 – 4. Jökulsárlón – The floating icebergs, breaking off the glacier and floating into the ocean, provide a stunning view, no matter which way you look at them.
6. The Loneliest Petrol Station in the World. Then, on the way back, we saw this petrol station, with its abandoned shop. It still works as a petrol pump – virtually all petrol pumps in Iceland are automatic, requiring a chip card to use them. That way, people need not worry about running out of petrol.
Loneliest Petrol Station in the World
We said goodbye to Reykjavik and headed towards our next destination – Skaftafell, on the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park – ie. the second biggest national park in Europe and the largest glacier in Europe. Some people like to trek in or go in trucks across the Vatnajökull, but that wasn’t going to be our thing.
1. Geothermal Fissures. One drives along Route 1 and comes across the same breathtaking views as one does elsewhere. Such as the valley that is full of fissures letting go of steam.
2. Eyafjallajökull. To drive past the Eyafjallajökull volcano – the one that caused so many problems for air traffic in 2010 – is to see an area blissfully unaware of anything ever happening. The nearby residents seem to not be troubled by an active volcano above them.
3. Skogarföss. This was a nice surprise – a lovely waterfall along the road. We ran into a couple from the north of England, who were pleasant enough – until the husband started complaining about immigrants. We soon made our polite goodbyes.
4. Lava Fields. One of the more interesting landscapes in Iceland is what molten lava does when it stops. The road to Skaftafell has many interesting lavascapes – which go very well with the music of Sigur Rós.
Lava Fields 2
5. Sheep on Route 1. One of the ever present features of parts of Iceland are sheep, even on the main highway of the country. Lamb and wool are two things that you see a lot in Iceland – Vik, the southern most point of the country, has an excellent wool jumper factory. Not really a factory, more a couple of people in a shed with machines.
Sheep on Route 1