Monday, August 15: After leaving Reykjavík 871±2: The Settlement Exhibition, we continue our walk through Old Reykjavík.
The pyramid form of Water Carrier (1937), by Ásmundur Sveinsson, suggests strength and stability, which is important, since the image depicts the women who carried water year-round to every household in town, whatever the weather (Reykjavik Grapevine: Statues of Reykjavik).
A statue of Norwegian Ingólfur Arnarson (Ingolfur meaning royal wolf), reputed to be the first Icelandic settler, sits atop Arnarhóll. He and his wife Heilveig built their home in Reykjavik around 874 AD. The sculpture by Einar Jonsson and shows the settler standing by his high seat pillar which is decorated with a dragon’s head.
After leaving Arnarhóll, we head up the colorful main shopping street, Laugavegur, where we see a lot of quirky and charming buildings.
We are in route to an unusual museum recommended by Lonely Planet Iceland: The Icelandic Phallological Museum. It is probably the only museum in the world to contain phallic specimens belonging to all the various types of mammals found in a single country. We can’t help but be bowled over by this unusual collection.
According to the museum’s website: The Icelandic Phallological Museum contains a collection of more than two hundred penises and penile parts belonging to almost all the land and sea mammals that can be found in Iceland. Visitors to the museum will encounter fifty-five specimens belonging to sixteen different kinds of whale, one specimen taken from a rogue polar bear, thirty-six specimens belonging to seven different kinds of seal and walrus, and more than one hundred fifteen specimens originating from twenty different kinds of land mammal: all in all, a total of more than two hundred specimens belonging to forty-six different kinds of mammal, including that of Homo sapiens.
One sculpture memorializes the Icelandic men’s handball team, who won a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics. According to a 2012 article in Slate: “The sculpture consists, basically, of a bunch of silver penises pointing at the ceiling in a kind of wild-mushrooms-waving-in-a-field effect.”
There are numerous specimens of whales, dolphins, walruses, horses, giraffes, reindeer and even one Homo Sapiens, that of former Icelandic explorer and notorious womanizer, Pall Arason, who died at 95.
After visiting the museum, we walk down to the waterfront where we have a view of the North Atlantic Ocean and the Harpa Concert Hall.
We had passed an Icelandic Tapas spot earlier on our walk and now we decide to stop here for an early dinner as we’re going to the Blue Lagoon this evening.
Across the street is a bright blue music store.
Inside, we sit at tall bar tables on wooden benches and order tapas served in jars. This is something new for us both as we’ve never had tapas in jars before!
The walls have drawings of some of the wildlife found in Iceland.
We order beers, me a white pale ale. We enjoy homemade bread with wild mushroom spread and pesto. The tapas jars are these: smoked lamb salad on flatbread, Icelandic fermented shark, sweet potato soup with ginger, coconut milk and chili, blue cheese and poached pear salad, and Acras, or deep-fried salted cod fritters and marinated red onion.
All tapas flavors are delicious, although I have to say it’s not a very satisfactory dinner; we’re both left hungry afterward.
We continue our walk through the city until we come to Joylato, where we order fresh-made ice cream. We try to order scoops of two different ice cream flavors to share, but this is very confusing to the staff as the ice cream is homemade and they make one flavor at a time. This helps fill us up after our not-so-filling tapas dinner.
Finally, we make our way back up Skólavörðustígur, with me jumping out into the busy street to take some parting shots of Hallgrímskirkja.
We go back to our room to relax for a while until we drive to the Blue Lagoon for our 8:00 timed entry.