One of the wonderful things about Reykjavik is the fact that you will find sculptures on almost every corner. Icelanders take their culture very seriously.
This is an unusual piece to be found on the University campus to the west of the city. Made from reconstituted stone, it represents the natural basalt columns that occur in other parts of the country. Basalt has a distinctive shape, represented by the hexagonal blocks. This piece dates from 1990 and was sponsored by the local bank.
December Iceland gets around four hours daylight a day - and that's not
the brightest you'll ever see. The sun finally gets over the
horizon around 11am and is well on its way back down by 3pm. That
accounts for why these photos are dark. But around Christmas the
place is magical. Everything is lit by candlelight and there are
a-plenty of trolls and elves to add to the mystical atmosphere. The
country officially adopted Christianity in 1000 AD but around a third
of its population still believes that it is inhabited by trolls and
people - elves. The story goes that God went to visit Eve one day but
she had been very busy so she had not had time to wash and dress all
her children. Rather than let God see that she had untidy children she
decided to hide the unwashed ones in the cellar. After God met
other children he asked: "Surely you have more children than
But Eve denied it and said He had met them all.
"Foolish woman," God said, "Do you not realise that I know everything? If you do not want me to see your children then, from this day, they will be hidden from the eyes of Man for all time!" And that is why the elves can only be seen if they want to.
add to the festive tales there are the Yule Lads - 13 pranksters who
arrive, one a day, until Christmas Eve. They are responsible for many
of the things that go wrong around Christmas and have names like Candle
Beggar, Strap Loosener, Butter Stealer and Lamp Shadow. If children are
good they can leave their shoes in the windowsill and expect to find a
gift in the morning. But if they are bad they will get just a raw
potato. And if that wasn't bad enough there's the Yule Cat to
with. Everyone must have something new to wear for Christmas or
carried off by the Yule Cat to be eaten in his lair. That tale
from the days when much of Iceland's wealth depended on wool and
workers were expected to finish washing, carding and spinning the
fleeces by Yule. In exchange they were given an item of
if they had no new clothes it meant they had not worked hard enough and
so deserved to be carried away by the Cat.
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View of Hallgrims Church from Saga Hotel
A very grey day at Gullfoss - but the raging waters can just be seen in the background.
highlights on a trip from the city might
include the magnificent Gullfoss or Golden Falls, a double level
waterfall that cascades more than 100 feet (32 metres) into a ravine.
The falls was almost destroyed when businessmen planned to
hydroelectric plant on the site but local farmer's daughter Sigriþur
Tómasdóttir mounted a one-woman campaign to stop it. She
throw herself from the top of the falls if the plan went ahead and the
government eventually agreed to buy the land and save a natural wonder.
It is now designated a national monument.
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The site of the original Geysir - now just a hot spot in the snow.
Strokkur starting up