So That’s Why They Call It Iceland?

On the top floor of the tower of the main church in Reykjavik (The Hallgrímskirkja), I suddenly realised today why Iceland is called Iceland. Last night I felt quite warm, as I was seated chatting to a bloke in my local thermal pool. He told me they’d enjoyed reasonably mild winter here (with hardly any snow).

Half way through the night, though, I was awoken by howling winds, and starting to feel the cold, folded my double bed doona in half to double the level of insulation. Having lost my beanie somewhere between Stockholm and here, I also called in today to the 66 North store and bought a replacement. “Don’t worry about a bag”, I told the shop assistant. As the material covered my ears more effectively than the hoodie on either of my jackets, instantly, I understood the true meaning of their slogan “Keeping Iceland Warm Since 1926”.

The view from the top level of Hallgrímskirkja was more than enough reason to stay outside. Some people preferred to stay on the glass-enclosed level below, but I was more than happy to experience a few frozen moments (from Arctic winds) to gain a terrific view of the nearby mountains, as well as the inner city parts of the Reykjavik. The wonderful combination of colours you see, with the greys, blues and whites of the water, the sky and the mountains, mingling with the colourful housing is spectacular.

The inside of the church is also very beautiful. It has a simple style, with blonde timber and grey walls. The ornamentation is confined to the simple alter, and two beautiful pipe organs. I was also impressed with the baptismal font, made from Czech glass, the accompanying brochure told me. The brochure also mentions people have made individual donations to maintain the organ, and have contributed personal religious art works to the church.

On the outside, the church is spectacular, as it stands tall over Reykjavik, beautifully contrasted to the sky.

In fact, I’ve noticed since being here, the churches are pretty spectacular architecturally speaking. I have a lovely church which can be seen from my bedroom window. I also saw a wonderful church earlier today, designed in the style of traditional housing. I’d like to say “tee pee”, though I don’t think that’s the word.

I spotted that one, having taken a random bus trip from the centre of town. In a strange town, I always think it’s a fun idea to catch public transport to see where it takes you. Today’s trip took me through the suburbs which were pretty much like most suburbs. Lots of shopping centres. Some individual housing. A lot of apartment blocks. Nothing particularly interesting, to be honest, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I came home a little earlier today. The cold winds were a little too much for this lad raised in the sub-tropical climate of Northern NSW. I’ll wander out again, I’m sure. But this time I’ll be wearing the really warm jacket Damien has loaned to me, not the thinner water proof one I picked up in Stockholm. It’s warmth I need tonight, not rain protection, I’ve concluded.