reykjavík: the colorful shopping street laugavegur, a bizarre museum, icelandic tapas, and an ice cream treat

Monday, August 15:  After leaving Reykjavík 871±2: The Settlement Exhibition, we continue our walk through Old Reykjavík.

Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík
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).

statue in Reykjavík
Water Carrier (1937) – Ásmundur Sveinsson
Old Reykjavík
Old Reykjavík

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.

memorial to Ingólfur Arnarson
memorial to Ingólfur Arnarson

After leaving Arnarhóll, we head up the colorful main shopping street, Laugavegur, where we see a lot of quirky and charming buildings.

Laugavegur
Laugavegur
characters on Laugavegur
characters on Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
bicycle gate on Laugavegur
bicycle gate on Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur

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.

famous celebrities
celebrities

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.

Looking out at the North Atlantic Ocean
Looking out at the North Atlantic Ocean
waterfront with Harpa Concert Hall
waterfront with Harpa Concert Hall
IMG_0846
Mike at the waterfront
IMG_0845
Reykjavik waterfront
IMG_0850
me at the waterfront

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.

Icelandic Tapas
Icelandic Tapas

Across the street is a bright blue music store.

blue music store
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!

Inside Icelandic Tapas
Inside Icelandic Tapas

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.

Icelandic Tapas
Icelandic Tapas

All tapas flavors are delicious, although I have to say it’s not a very satisfactory dinner; we’re both left hungry afterward.

Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
Laugavegur
street art on Laugavegur
street art on Laugavegur
street art on Laugavegur
street art on Laugavegur
looking down the street to the North Atlantic Ocean
looking down the street to the North Atlantic Ocean

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.

Joylato
Joylato
pink brick road
pink brick road
characters met along the way
characters met along the way
Baluga
Babalu
fish & more
fish & more

Finally, we make our way back up Skólavörðustígur, with me jumping out into the busy street to take some parting shots of Hallgrímskirkja.

Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja
last view of Hallgrímskirkja
last view 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.

16 thoughts on “reykjavík: the colorful shopping street laugavegur, a bizarre museum, icelandic tapas, and an ice cream treat

    1. I wouldn’t exactly call our museum visit a “focus,” Carol, as we were there less than 20 minutes and I’ve written three posts in total, so far, about our day in Reykjavik. A better question is Why not? I’m always curious about the people who live in a city and a culture and what interests them. Especially when it’s a starred attraction and described as “actually very well done” in Lonely Planet Iceland. Apparently lots of people were also curious as the museum was packed.🙂

      1. Oh my goodness! I didn’t get that meaning at all.🙂 As for why the focus on this bizarre collection, you can read on the link for the museum under “About the museum.” The owner tells in his own words how he got started. It’s pretty funny. He was a schoolteacher and principal for 37 years, but as a child he was sent to the countryside for the summer, where he was given a pizzle as a whip for the animals. After that, people kept giving him mammal parts as a joke, to tease him for having the original pizzle! And the collection grew from there. Both the father , now retired, and the son, who is now the curator, are both well-educated and well-traveled men.

    1. That’s for sure, Jo! I am always curious as to why people choose to do certain things, like beginning such a life-long collection! People are endlessly fascinating. I loved the city’s street art, colorful buildings, and all-around charm and quirkiness.🙂

      I am slowly recovering, but still have the lingering cough and fatigue. Thanks for checking.🙂

    1. I was so glad for the color in the city, Elaine, since it was such a gray day. I found it to be a very charming city all around. As for the museum, it was very unusual for sure. As for the idea for the museum, I think the founder got a strange gift that encouraged him to start a collection. You can read about it on the museum’s link, under “About the Museum.” I am always curious about why people choose certain fascinations in their lives. 🙂

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