Day the First, Part the Second

The tower that I see up on the hill looks like this:

I don't immediately recognize it as the famous Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrímur's church), which is the tallest structure in Rekyjavík. This is what it looks like without the scaffolding.

In front there is a statue of Leifr Eiríksson, or Leif Ericson, that the U.S. gave to Iceland for the 1000th birthday of Iceland's parliament, Alþingi (it was founded in 930 and is the oldest parliamentary body in the world).

Inside, the church is sparse - it feels like a very high-ceilinged cave.

The altar:

The baptismal font (thank you, Sarah Louise!):

The Japanese tourists who made me feel like way less of a tourist (they were taking about five pictures to every one I took):

The pulpit!:

The organ:

There is an organist pounding away at that beast the whole time I'm in the church, even over the sounds of construction (but hey, if any instrument could compete with construction noise, it'd be this one, right?). He alternates rather alarmingly between stereotypical apocalyptic organ music and this quieter, cheery, carnival-sounding stuff.

After getting about two hours of sleep Monday night, and almost none on the plane, I'm starting to feel pretty tired, and I'm in no hurry to go back out into the cold. I sit down in a pew and rest my head on my backpack, and the next thing I know, the church is silent and I'm blinking up at a priest who is bending over me speaking Icelandic at me. He seems concerned, but I think I manage to get across that I am only jet-lagged.

Mentally patting myself on the back for managing a nap through the combined din of the construction and the crazy organist, I make my way back down the hill to a little bakery I passed earlier, which is now full of lunch-breakers. I warm up and wake up with a cup of coffee and a kleina (basically a dougnut in another shape; pretty traditional) and my feminist anthology. When I feel sufficiently revived, I resume wandering.

On a street with a number of foreign embassies/consulates, I visit another church - this one Catholic (Hallgrímskirkja is Lutheran) and much smaller. The flyers in the front tell me it is called Christ the King Cathedral, although later googling reveals its official name is now Landakotskirkja.

An old woman comes in as I'm looking at the bulletins and books for sale by the door. We are the only ones there. The quiet beep of my camera when I take a picture, the coin clanking in the donation box to pay for a postcard, the heavy door's hinges as I push it open on my way out - these are uncomfortable against the sound of the wind outside and the woman's tightly closed eyes.

I have been catching glimpses of the ocean all day. I hold onto the next one and walk until I reach the shore.

Looking over a wall into some backyards along the way.

And coming back out of the courtyard of an apartment complex.

I'm not sure where in Reykjavík I am when I hit the ocean, but hit it I do.

The requisite "I'm in Iceland taking a picture of myself and I can't believe how lucky I am" smirk. (I tried to make a nice smile, but being by the sea in Iceland isn't the kind of joyful that makes me grin.)

By this time, it's nearly three o'clock and the wind is getting colder. I figure out my way back to the bus line, but I am seriously regretting leaving my hat at the hostel. I find knees going numb a little alarming.

I do make it back to the hostel with all my extremities untouched by frostbite. I have a four-bed room, and no roommates as far as I can tell. The view from my bunk:

I fall asleep around five o'clock and wake up only once between then and the morning.


Sarah Louise 12/11/2008 4:04 PM  

this takes my breath away. The beach picture right after the soccer net reminds me of the beach at Gdynia (next to Gdansk, Poland.) I guess it's that whole Upper Atlantic thing. (Being that I'm at work, I finally just walked over and pulled off an atlas to see exactly where Iceland is.) Wow, it's really up there!

And hey, I get a mention! :)

My sister is part Japanese tourist. Which actually makes me stop taking pictures. Thank you for taking these.

Looking forward to the rest of the chronicles of C in Iceland.


maribeth 12/11/2008 4:46 PM  

Amazing. Thank you for this.

Will be looking forward to looking and SEEING! more.

Q 12/11/2008 4:46 PM  

*is jealous*

Gretchen 12/11/2008 5:11 PM  

I'm so glad you took so many pictures! The sea, the churches, even the hostel has a certain charm to it.

Tree Rat Girl 12/11/2008 6:55 PM  

The fourth ocean picture was so beautiful. I had to use it as my desktop background :) It's gorgeous.

countrybelle 12/11/2008 7:13 PM  

wow, thank you for sharing these stories and images. what an amazing, desolate, and yet magical place.
i've given you an award on my secret blog! because i always so enjoy your reflections and adventures. come see and pass it along...

Cassandra 12/11/2008 8:59 PM  

Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait for more!

Countrybelle 12/11/2008 10:08 PM  

hello again, lovely culieann. indeed, you are so right about beauty in *that* world. which is why i need two blogs: one to indulge in (sometimes shallow) sweetness/nonsense and one about my real life.
you are a wise one... and don't forget to post your award (if you want)!

Bridey 12/13/2008 3:09 AM  

I'm loving reading about your travels and seeing the great pictures - the ones taken at the beach are really good!

Tree Rat Girl 12/13/2008 12:24 PM  

I forgot to say that I really love the statue of Lief Ericson, one of my ancestors.... way, way back. :)

cuileann 12/13/2008 1:31 PM  

Sarah Louise - Ha. I think each of us has a dormant Japanese tourist inside of us, and they wouldn't be so funny otherwise. I'm kind of surprised whenever I see Iceland on a globe, too...

Maribeth - You are welcome! I'm glad you're enjoying them.

Cassandra - Thank you! :)

countrybelle - (Sometimes shallow) sweet nonsense is an excellent thing in its own right.

Bridey - Good! :) And thank you!

Tree Rat Girl - Ooh, that's vair cool.

enc 12/14/2008 9:32 AM  

The church photos are superb. Again, I love the lighting. The outdoor ones are great, too—Iceland looks strangely warm, though I know it's cold.

Maya Ganesan 12/14/2008 5:56 PM  

Haha, it turns out that when I'm procrastinating, my computer's web history is packed. ;)

Erin 12/15/2008 1:38 PM  

Oh my goodness, all the photos are amazing amazing amazing.
My favorite though has to be the one of you - something about it is so perfect and wonderful. *smile*

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