Reykjavik, Iceland – Grotta Lotta Walking

Day 8 – October 27, 2011

A chilly but less cloudy day dawned in Reykjavik. And I geared up for my potentially long walk to Grotta lighthouse.

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The walk was estimated by the tourist info lady to be 45 minutes, but I took an hour and a half eventually. Good thing I started fairly early, because the island is reachable on foot only when the tide is out, and I had a three hour gap between 10.30am – 1.30pm.

The walk was remarkably pleasant, though still tiring, as I plugged myself into Biophilia and watched the housing scene change around me. The album, awash with glorious strains and expansive stanzas, made the walk that much more moving. When I finally sighted Grotta, I was a little daunted as it seemed really far still, but I continued anyway as I had the whole day.

IMG_1436Coming closer, I saw the seabed had opened up, all black sand, lava and kelp. Carefully treading among the sea debris, I was at Grotta within 5 minutes. It was so peaceful.

Other than three small houses, I didn’t see anything else except the gleaming white lighthouse. I looked around and was a tad surprised it was unmanned. Going towards the door of the lighthouse, being told I could go up, I was disappointed to find that it was locked tight. Circling the tower didn’t come up with an alternative entrance, as there was no one I could ask for help in the empty houses. Still, it had such an atmosphere that I went ahead and just took my time to idly explore the area. Rustling tall grass and lava rocks were everywhere, and the golden sun cast a contrast of colours on everything. I took some shots, and made my way back to my next destination.

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I can’t talk much about my next location, but you can ask me about it when we meet. 😉

IMG_1492I went back to town and passed by the Landakot Catholic Church. There were a group of small boys playing football at one side of the lawn and the scene was very charming but I didn’t stay too long as I wanted to head back for a short break after my 4 hour walk.

I headed out for a familiar Thai lunch at the obviously-named Thai Restaurant, and explored the shops along Laugavegur one last time. I stopped by Skifan to get some recommendations from a local, and came out with the album of a Icelandic singer with a lovely voice by the name of Mugison. Apparently, his latest album Haglel, was made with his grandmother in mind, and so was a toned down version of his usual harder musical inclination. The quirky album mesh-up was a nostalgic, laid back offering, with the occasional blue-sy experimental jamming in between. Awww.

IMG_1528As my last site stop, I returned once more to Hallgrimskirkja. This time, I paid the entrance fee to go up the tower and eight floors later, I was on the clock face level. One could see the mechanism behind the faces and hear them turn as the hands moved. Pretty cool. But the highlight was up another flight of stairs – to the viewing level which was separated from the bell by only some wooden boards. I hadn’t expected such a view!

Given that the tower wasn’t particularly tall, and that I have had high vantage points from other areas before, I was overwhelmed by the view from the top. One could climb up little boxes positioned around the floor, and get a sweeping view of Reykjavik from any of the four faces. One side lay the greater city area with Perlan as the highlight. Another featured the mountains. The third was towards Grotta, and the last was facing downtown. The colourful houses popped up everywhere, and the setting sun bathed the whole scene in golden light. Breathtaking stuff. I tried spotting some of the locations I’ve gone to – the streets I’ve walked, the places I ate at, and couldn’t help but tear a little, knowing that this was a fitting finale to my visit.

IMG_1462Reykjavik has won me over and is easily one of, if not, the top city of my choice. The quiet culture and creativity, the friendly and considerate folks, the raw natural offerings, the exciting adventures – this was a country that gave me almost everything I’ve ever needed for a happy existence. And it is still growing – beautifully & naturally. Never hurried, never overly-calculated. Always curious, always inviting. A country of blue, black, red, white and green, from sky, lava, fire, ice and moss, ‘alive’ was the perfect description, and alive was how I felt every single day here.

As I packed and night fell, as a parting memory I returned to the nearby Pizza King, where I had ordered once before. The pizza boy chuckled at how I liked my pizza with lots of garlic when I ordered it again, so he baked a fresh slice with extra freshly-chopped garlic on it even though I only asked for garlic oil to make it easy for him. And that was how the city had won me over – by simple acts that moved me, and by people who cared. Good night Reykjavik. I will be back. :_)

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Góða nótt. Sjáumst síðar Rekjavik!

All photos: Morgan Awyong

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