Desember 09 – Wandering through Reykjavík

At about 08:00 I went out to wander.

I first wandered to Hallgrimskirkjan, couldn’t take photos because it was too dark. The church looks very much like a gaussian distribution. I think I’ll call it Gássafhendingskirkja instead!

I wonder if it's normal?

Ah, já, the famous Gaussian Distribution Church

I went north through Frakkastígur to reach Laugavegur, then went west through Laugavegur to reach Lækjargata, then went south through Lækjargata to reach Tjörn, the lake. While on the way I photographed some shops and their menus.

I did a perspective transform on it, that's why it looks crooked.

The menu outside a burger shop. KR stands for Icelandic krona.
As time of writing, about 1 USD = 130 KR.

Bátur is what subway sandwiches are called in Icelandic.

Subway in Reykjavík. Footlong only 7.99 bucks!

Translations of the Subway photo:

“Bátur Dagsins”- “boat of the day”. Apparently “boat” is what subway’s sandwiches are called in Iceland. So “Bátur Dagsins” really means “the day’s special sandwich”.
“ÓPIД – “open”.
“Nýtt á Subway” – “New [products] in Subway”.
“Elskaðu spínat/avókadó” – “You love spinich/avodaco”.
“Græna byltingin” – “the green revolution”
“12 tomma bátur á 999 kr.” – “12 inch boat at 999 kr”, or more freely translated, “footlong only 7.99 bucks!”

A good meal here would probably cost 3000 ISK, or 23 USD.

Menu of Uppsalir – Bar & Cafe.

[insert Chuck Norris joke about coldness here]

Chuck Norris Grill, American meme manifested in Iceland

The lake was almost frozen, but there was a corner unfrozen, and all the birds were there. I’ll take a video of the birds later.

Then I went across a bridge over Tjörn and accidentally arrived in the Raðhús Reykjavikur, the city council of Reykjavík. There were free maps and guides on some traveling suggestions, so I took one each. There were also two newspapers, Reykjavíkur (in Icelandic) and The Grapevine (in English). There was a giant sculptured map of Iceland on the floor and children were playing near the map while some adults were teaching them Icelandic geography.

Tómas Guðmundsson (1901 – 1983) is known as Reykjavík's poet

Poem by Tómas Guðmundsson, on the west wall of Raðhús Reykjavík.

Explanation of the Tómas Guðmundsson photo:

This is the first two stanzas of Við Vatnsmírina, by Tómas Guðmundsson. Tómas was known as Reykjavíkurskáldið, the poet of Reykjavík. He mostly wrote about Reykjavík and his place of youth in romanticism style. Við Vatnsmírina means “by the watermire” (vatn + míri), and is a poem about a bog in Reykjavík.

Ástfanginn blær í grænum garði svæfir
grösin sem hljóðlát biðu sólarlagsins.
En niðri í mýri litla lóan æfir
lögin sín undir konsert morgundagsins.
Lovingly, a gentle breeze in a green garden is making sleepy
the moss that waits for the sunset.
But below, in a mire, lóan practices
the law of it, under a concert of tomorrow.
Og úti fyrir hvíla höf og grandar,
og hljóðar öldur smáum bárum rugga.
Sem barn í djúpum blundi jörðin andar
og borgin sefur rótt við opna glugga.
And out there, seas rest, and destructive
and quiet waves smáum waves sway.
Like a child in a deep nap, the earth breathes
and the city sleeps quietly with open windows.

A performance of Við Vatnsmírina can be found on YouTube.

In the male toilet?

Text found in the male toilet of Raðhús Reykjavík. 
Landspítali is National University Hospital of Iceland.

Two things about the text struck me as interesting: First, it’s written in Icelandic, English and Polish. Why Polish? Second, it’s in a male toilet.

The pun is very bad, both in Icelandic and in English.

A pun in Icelandic and English, found at the start of Reykjavíkurtjörn Bridge


“Á hvaða hljóðfæri spilar Leppalúði? Lúður.” – “What music instrument (hljóð – sound; færi – opportunity) does Leppalúði play? Trumpet.”

Leppalúði is the third husband of Grýla, and Grýla is the mother of tons of children, 13 of which are the Yule Lads, Icelandic mythological beings that come out before Yuletide and troll people.

Personally, the pun is so weak I mehed all over the floor when I saw the English version, and mehed again when I translated the Icelandic version.


I went west even more until I found the sea. The sky was brightening because the sun had risen. I couldn’t see the sun though, since it was overcast the whole day. By the harbor, I found Krónan, Bónus and Nettó, the three big brands of cheap supermarkets in Reyjavík, but they were surrounded by wide roads impassible for walkers, so I didn’t visit them. The shoppers to these places all came by driving.

Bónus and Nettó are cheap supermarkets. Elko is an electronics shop.

Bónus and Nettó can be seen at the distance. Krónan is not appearing in this photo, but can be found a bit norther.

at about N 64.152, W 21.955

Near the sea, taken on Vesturgata. The sun has risen, but the only sign of the sun is the pale smear of orange near the horizon.

I turned back. The roads were all covered with snow; the new, untrodden snow was very powdery, while the old, trodden snow was dense and slippery. I tried my best to only walk on new snow, but I still almost slipped a few times during my way back.

I visited a bookstore just before returning to my room. I was disappointed to find that it only sold English books, at a higher price than in America.


There are free big maps in Raðhús Reykjavíkur, so don’t buy any map, especially don’t buy maps of Reykjavík.
Reðhús Reykjavíkur is cool.
The Grapevine is an English newspaper that you can get for free in Raðhús Reykjavíkur.
The Tjörn has so many birds.

The restaurants are expensive. Expect a basic meal to cost 1000-2000 ISK. In general, the price level of restaurants is 1.5 the price in America. The cheapest restaurant is probably Subway.
A cup of coffee is about 400 ISK.
Books are expensive.
Souvenirs are expensive.
Fresh vegetables and fruits are very expensive.
Bread and milk products and canned foods are cheap.

The roads are always covered with ice and snow.
Walk on untrodden, new snow if possible. Trodden, old snow is slippery.


One thought on “Desember 09 – Wandering through Reykjavík

  1. Pingback: Januar 4 – Artline Special | cosmiainiceland

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