On our way to Iceland, my friend Ann and I flew from Love Field to LaGuardia. We stayed on 39th St. at one of the budget Pod Hotels. Pod has two hotels in the city and a new one in Brooklyn. These Pod hotels are very affordable and all the city pods have associated restaurants and rooftop bars. We took a bus tour that went from midtown to Battery Park and jumped off there, taking the ferry to Brooklyn. On the way I snapped these two pictures of Lady Liberty from the park and from the ferry.
Having only been to NYC once before, I enjoyed going to Lower Manhattan and to Brooklyn. With limited time, the bus tour was the way to go. We passed the Flat Iron Building heading downtown, saw numerous silos, enjoying the city history from the bus guide. The native American head was on the city hall building, I believe.
There was an Osprey helicopter flying around Lower Manhattan, maybe due to a politician being in town. It landed as we were getting closer to our dock. The arch is in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The old lights in the city have been around since Edison’s day.
Barclays Center was interesting in Brooklyn. It has a grass roof and has won awards for sustainability. The arena is home to the Brooklyn Nets (basketball) and New York Islanders (hockey). I did read that building this arena was very controversial due to the use of eminent domain and that many old businesses were demolished or relocated.
The best part of this leg of the trip was definitely dining at Gramercy Tavern. The place is nicely decorated and the menu and service were excellent. Also, our lovely waitperson snagged us a tour of the kitchen. The chefs and workers were so gracious and professional. I definitely would like to enjoy this place again, even if for drinks at the bar.
We flew to Iceland on Icelandair from JFK. The ride to Reykjavik was about 45 minutes from the airport. For a world capital, the city of Reykjavik was underwhelming, but very pretty and interesting to explore. The population of the whole country is only 330,000. The poulation of Reykjavik is about 110,000 with another 110,000 close by in the neighboring cities. Mostly everyone speaks English, which made it easier for us. The city’s main industry these days is tourism. There’s a lot of things for young, fit explorers–glaciers, rock-climbing, and hiking, as well as discovering the volcanic and geo-thermal activities. The church seen below is the focal point of the city and is on a hill. We went to the top of the “steeple” via an elevator and looked out over the area, including the harbor. Leif Ericsson’s statue is in front of the church. The religion of the country is the Church of Iceland (Lutheran).
Iceland has lots of street art, lots of galleries, and lots of bookstores and coffeeshops. The country is one of the more literate of the world. When it is dark for much of the day in certain times of the year, I am sure the people turn to their books.
At the wonderful Skuggi Hotel, each room had a photography book (Behind the Mountains) of the Icelandic people by native Icelander Ragnar Axelsson, and there were quotes from this book on the wall. Also, in the reception and restaurant area, paintings of pictures from the book could be seen. Just down the road was a food hall with a variety of restaurants in stations where you could order your food and then sit together with your group. We chose to sit at the bar at KRÖST and chat with the amiable bartender. He had worked on cruise ships and in different cities of the world. This was after our adventure to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal pool halfway back to the airport. It was nice to relax in the healing water and do a mud and an algae mask. The place is all very organized, but the number of pushy tourists was a bit overwhelming. I would love to do a day there relaxing and enjoying the water, but I am sure it would cost more than the standard package. However, the whole experience was very new and enjoyable. Google images can be found HERE.
Following are some scenes from the city. Some of the street names are very long.
We went on a Northern Lights tour somewhere about 30 to 45 minutes from the city. Our driver, Omer, was the most personable of the drivers and guides. We stopped at a cutoff somewhere up on a ridge and waited for the lights. The lights started to form long streaks and that was about it. Then on the way down, we stopped on the side of the road because Omer saw the lights again and these were better. What we saw were not green like in pictures, but were white. We definitely saw the strange movements of the lights. I would love to go on some more Northern Lights tours.
One of the tours we took was called The Golden Circle because it encompasses the best things about Iceland.
Some of the land is very ferrous and looks red. The sky and clouds were magnificent at times. One of the stops was at a hydroponic farm. The number of tomato plants and herbs was amazing. Such a good way to grow fresh vegetables and herbs in a climate that normally would not support such farming. Some sustenance before continuing:
We visited the Geysir area. The name says it all.
Next we went to the Gullfoss Waterfalls. After that we visited Pingvellir, the area where they film some of Game of Thrones, not to mention being a very historical place for Icelanders. The parliament was first established in this area and has been a meeting spot for centuries. First the falls, then Pingvellir follows:
The next morning, Ann struck out on her own and visited the new city music auditorium. She saw some interesting art and rock sculptures done by everyday citizens. The hall looked spectacular. Here are her pictures from her venture:
Our quick trip to Iceland was over and we had to catch our flight back to JFK.
The day in NYC was mostly spent on the High Line and in and around the Meatpacking District:
Dinner at a popular spot on 10th Avenue called Bombuto was wonderful after a 1/2 day of traveling. The beer was good, as well as the food. But the best was watching the New Yorkers in their nightly routines.
The High Line was a great place to snap the flowers and bees: