Day 2,063 of Traveling the World | Brighton, UK | September 22, 2023

We Brighton-ed our day by taking the train to the southern coast of England, visiting our friends Steve and Karen in one of the cities on the English Channel. We met Karen and Steve on the Queen Mary 2 last summer, and we were as fascinated with them as they were with us and our lifestyle. When they married in the early 1990s, they decided to take an extended honeymoon. Oh, no, not extended by a week or two – but 80 WEEKS in total! They went everywhere in the world that they wanted to, sightseeing, and doing a lot of hiking and climbing. Sounds fabulous! So when they heard about our lifestyle choice, they wanted to know more. We had lunch with them when we arrived in New York last year, talked our heads off, and promised to meet up in Brighton when we were in London this year.

They showed us interesting parts of Brighton that we hadn’t seen when we were here previously, even though it rained on us. We walked along the seafront and went as far as we could on the existing pier. In the Regency Restaurant, our fish & chips lunch was outstanding, followed by a traditional British dessert which the restaurant gave a nontraditional name – see the last photo!

Brighton has a cool claim to fame – formerly called Brighthelmstone, it is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The city thrived through the Middle Ages, then slumped a bit until King George IV, Royal Party Animal Extraordinaire, fell in love with its seaside location and made it the official fun place to be. When the railroad connecting it to London was installed, quick and easy access helped its popularity. Today it is the unofficial LGBTQ capital of Britain, and is very lively, diverse, and welcoming. We liked it immensely, and now can’t wait to return!

Such an ethereal photo of Brighton Beach. This is the leftover skeleton of the West Pier, which was finally laid to rest with two fires in 2003. Apparently rumors as to the origins of the fires abound, with speculation about the owners of the other pier not wanting a competing pier around and involvement of the “Brighton Mafia.We don’t know nothin’ about it, but note that segments of the Sopranos TV show took place on the Atlantic City Boardwalk as well as the show Boardwalk Empire. Just sayin’.
…and this is the robust, fully operational East Pier (Palace Pier), a short way down the beach.
The entrance to this pier is guarded by a Pirate Sheep.
The beach is pebbled, rather than sandy, and as you can see, stretches quite a distance east.
The dramatic clouds over the English Channel.
These colorful cabanas add a lot of character to the Brighton Seafront.
Maybe because it was a rainy day, with not many people, there were sharp, defined horizontal lines between the shore, the water, and the sky.
Meeting House Lane is very charming, just not very busy due to the rain.
We shouldn’t be surprised by Vegetarian Shoes, but we were, as they just aren’t something we had considered before. It makes sense.
Gardner Street looks like a good time…maybe at night, without rain, and with a few more people.
LOVED the kicking red and white legs!
We equally loved a hot pink snail crawling toward us.
Pretty skinny polar bears.
A lot of the shops have the most interesting artwork up above.
This mural is Req & SinnaOne’s Wall of Fame, a tribute to musical legends. At the bottom was an original 2004 Banksy painting called Kissing Coppers depicting two policemen kissing (see closeup below).
This artwork became a target for vandals, but when the building was resold, a facsimile was made of Kissing Coppers, and it now has protective casing over it.
Meet Shaun by the Sea – another Brighton Sheep at the train station, looking unbelievably cute.
RED! This is “Peaky Brighton,” a very red immersive theater production with characters from the series, Peaky Blinders. The sign on the door says, “This establishment is under new management by the order of the Peaky Blinders.” As fans of the show Peaky Blinders, we enjoyed the joke.
Julien Plumart Patisserie. We watched the “British Bake-off – Professionals” last year, and one of the teams was Julien Plumart. They won! Their bakery went onto our calendar, and we visited – and partook – since we were in Brighton. The sweets were exceedingly good!
Our lunch with Steve and Karen was at the Regency, an institution in Brighton across from the beach. The battered cod was excellent! Our dessert was the venerable “Spotted Richard” – as it appeared on the politically correct menu. It is usually called Spotted Dick. Whatever its name, it was heavenly – a not-too-sweet cake with raisins, with the custard adding depth. A wonderful end to a great meal on a great day with great friends.

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Day 2,057 of Traveling the World | Amsterdam, The Netherlands | September 16, 2023

City of canals, city of bicycles, city of flowers, city of pancakes, city of red lights and cross-dressing men….but we will get to that later!! What a wonderful, magical place. Crossing the canals, there are lots of bikes locked to the railing and usually bunches of well-tended flowers. There are also lots and lots of people. And bikes. One of our ship’s officers, who is a resident of Amsterdam, did a presentation on Amsterdam’s history and things to see. He mentioned the many bikes and riders and said, “Amsterdam’s bikes are pure evil! And now, there are more electric bikes, which you can’t hear – more evil still!” Crossing a street, a bike slipped between us and the curb with about an inch to spare – almost! And since they are going pretty fast, getting hit by a bike would hurt!

But it was a beautiful, warm summer day in Amsterdam, unlike our days in Iceland and the first two ports in Norway. Flowers were in bloom, stores and tours were operating, and it was just a great day for being out and about in a world-class city. There are gorgeous historical buildings, trams and trains running, and much to see. We had a blast, just wandering aimlessly and taking photos.

We were surprised that we hadn’t blogged Amsterdam before. We have been here many times before and look forward to our return next summer. We know we will find many unusual things to photograph here on that trip. This is truly one of the world’s most unusual cities.

The first canal we came to – with a duck swimming down the middle! There is something about this photo that reminds us of an Impressionist painting, but it is just a regular photo from our phone.
Bikes are everywhere, and some are painted and bedecked and just resting outside buildings. This is one of them.
This area along a canal was getting ready for fall, decorated with pumpkins and gourds.
“Everywhere” is on our list, too! We agree with the Politics and Religion designations.
Such odd costumes.
The late afternoon took on a purple cast and produced this canal view.
An old drugstore, a shop with pretty flower garland, and a blue talking head. Totally normal in Amsterdam.
Another decorated bike, but this time with marine sponges and other ocean creatures. It sits in front of a thrift store, but upstairs is a company called “Those Dam Boat Guys” – of course, everyone loves to utilize the word “dam” in Amsterdam.
This Amsterdam home is decorated in high “Louis XIV” style!
A store called “Pleasurements,” with the motto, “Love isn’t blind.” But…but…the undergarments shown here look like torture, not pleasure! (Said Jan, NOT Mike!)
This store, “Otherist,” had very strange things for sale – old books, odd glassware, antique jewelry, scrubbing brushes, and tabletop glass boxes with ducks on the backboard.
A pretty building undergoing rehab, with Atlas on top.
They save all the pretty artwork for the tops of buildings, where you can’t really see it! Thank God for a good phone camera with a zoom lens.
Our last decorative bike, with glitter and flowers and sparkle and orange paint!
We don’t get the OBEY posters – but in every alley and on every railing, there shall be bicycles!
A tourist cheese shop. You can tell it isn’t for locals, as all the cheese is shrink-wrapped, ready for toting back to one’s country of origin.
The Beurspassage, a lovely arcade connecting two major shopping streets. Opened in December 2016, the design features mosaic floors and ceilings, pretty chandeliers, and playful painted scenes. It was delightful to walk through.
This cute fountain for filling water bottles is in the Beurspassage, and says, “Take Some Mokum With You.” Mokum is a slang Yiddish term for Amsterdam, much like The Big Apple is for New York. The word Mokum means “place,” and was given to Amsterdam when they took in the Jews who were expelled from Spain and Portugal 500 years ago.
Adjacent to the Beurspassage is this ice cream shop with very unusual ice cream. The only flavor is vanilla, and it is mixed with actual whipped cream, which makes it very light, fluffy, and delicious. We both agreed we wouldn’t want it every day, but it was a treat on a hot day. The cone was equally good – crispy and tasty, not soggy, not just an afterthought. Together, they made a great treat.
Have to admit – never saw Pride underwear before.
St. Nicholas Church, just across from the train station.
The inside of St. Nicholas is truly magnificent. The caretaker was closing the gates when we passed, and shook his head NO as we pointed. So, wistfully, we asked, “Is it very beautiful inside?” That apparently captured his heart, and he took pity on us. He opened the gate and said, “Two minutes!” That was long enough for about 15 photos, including this beauty.
Many meanings – Nice to Meat, with a cow covered in tulips!
We don’t know why this Mexican steakhouse uses an advertising sign with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (top right). Perhaps the owner is just very religious?
This stunning Main Post Office Building was constructed from 1895-1899. The bottom floor was for public use, while the upper stories were used as offices. It was sold to investors in 1987 for use as a luxury shopping center, and again in 2016. A shot of the interior is in the next photo. As beautiful as it is, it is mostly unoccupied. Much of the world is still suffering the effects of Covid and a general move toward online retail purchases.
The red and gray stripes reminiscent of Moorish architecture are also inside, echoing the exterior. It is a beautiful building to see.
We didn’t know what Sissy-Boy was, so we had to find out. It is in this shopping center, and we found it is home furnishings, with two young women working there. We told them we thought it would be men’s clothing, and had a bit of a discussion as to what “sissy-boy” meant. They were surprised, as there isn’t an equivalent term in Dutch. The workers said the owner was Austrian, but we don’t know of there is something equivalent in German.
We have found this to be true.
The incredible Amsterdam Centraal Train Station. This is a main starting point for visits to Amsterdam.
A sculpture on a supermarket building. The main figure may represent a saint who has the devil’s hand and feet bound. We have seen similar depictions on churches.
You can get anywhere from here!
Houses along a canal, with typical Dutch architecture and…bikes!
A stunning apartment building. Most likely, these were originally used as warehouses, with merchandise moved directly in and out of what were formerly doors, but are now picture windows.
We have never seen such an apology for taking what is probably a well-deserved vacation, but love the Americanism, Gone Fishin’ ! So many people speak fluent English here that there is no telling if it was written by an American transplant or a native Netherlander.
Do you think Charles was thinking this? We suppose so.
Meet Alex and friends. Before we saw him, dressed in white lace, we noticed guys wearing the same orange sunglasses. Spying Alex, we walked over and said one word, “Why??” He said he was getting married, and they made him wear this get-up. Oh, so are you the bride, marrying a groom? NO, he said, I am the groom. “So you just like to cross-dress?” NO – they made me do it. “So when are you getting married?” Mid-November, he said. Oh, so you just want to dress like this for two whole months! All his friends were laughing, and Alex was a good sport. We enjoyed our time with them – a happy memory of Amsterdam.

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Day 2,055 of Traveling the World | Bergen, Norway | September 14, 2023

What a contrast between two days in Norway. Geiranger, nestled deep in a fjord, had 250 people, period. Today’s port of Bergen has a population of 290,000 – more than 100 times that of Geiranger! Our ship’s 3,000 passengers were 1,200% of the population of Geiranger, but just 0.1% of the population of Bergen. So, not only did the cities affect us differently, we affected the two cities differently.

Outside of the downtown City Centre, with shopping, restaurants, parks, and museums, the most notable area of Bergen is called Bryggen, the area containing the remaining quays (wharves) from past times that is now a World Heritage Site. The city was a major trade partner in the Hanseatic League, and the trade was centered in Bryggen, the main city port. This area is delightful: sitting along the city fjord, the old wooden buildings facing it are colorful and well-tended.

Walking around the city was very enjoyable. It was a sunny day, in the 50s, with lots of people out and about. There were many historic buildings and statues, several lakes and parks, and as you can see in the first photo, one of the most beautiful gazebos we have seen anywhere. We didn’t use guidance or GPS to navigate – we just meandered to whatever looked interesting. It was a great day!

The spectacular Music Pavilion Gazebo in Byparken in the City Centre was lovingly landscaped and cared for, with an overkill of flowers.
The Kode 3 Art Museum, featuring works by the Norwegian artist, Edward Munch.
Not far away, this 1892 Munch painting was reproduced in a store window. It is called “Evening on Karl Johan Street.” We had never seen it, but the faces were reminiscent of “The Scream,” so we thought it must also be a Munch.
Adjacent to the park with the gazebo is this lovely lake, Lille Lungegardsvannet. You can see that houses are built high up onto the mountain.
When we are told that a city features a certain food, and it isn’t fermented or doesn’t sound unappetizing, we will try it once. So we went to this pretty bakery with a glass-domed ceiling. We ordered coffees and the famous Bergen cinnamon roll. It was rather dry, and mostly tasted like bread with a little sugar on it – not enough cinnamon to actually taste. With some butter, it was fine, but now we never have to try it again!
Though it is still summer, technically, this restaurant had fires and heating lamps along the sidewalk for its outdoor patrons. With the cool temperature of the day, it seemed warm and inviting. The restaurant name, bedecked with flowers, makes it stand out any time.
The front of Bergen National Theater, an Art Nouveau landmark.
Henrik Ibsen looks a bit wild here, but we love that it isn’t the “usual” statue of a famous person, with a serious, stern face.
A church dated 1707 (in metal work).
Looking at this building really wakes you up!
One area had cobblestone streets and these buildings of wooden construction.
This building has a lot of character. It is in Bryggen, is not made of wood, and bears dates from 1480 to 1912.
Bryggen is known more for these colorful wooden buildings and old harbor. The red building on the left, Stiftelsen Bryggen, is being renovated. Its “slipcover” has the name of the shop as well as faux windows.
This is the old harbor, across the street from the photo above.
All the restaurants had outdoor seating. The view across the street is the harbor, so it is quite nice for drinking coffee and people-watching.
Some unusual looking buildings, preserved at the Pilgrim Center.
A cute way to add square footage to your property!
More wooden buildings, preserving Norway’s past.
Mariakirken (St. Mary’s Church), built in the 12th century.
Some of the preserved buildings are built of brick.
Bergen’s old meat market from 1872, the Kjottbasaren Market, now hosting Starbucks and a few other venues. We were told to see which way the wind was blowing before eating anything here, as it is near the fish market and can be quite “odoriferous.”
Moomin – a children’s store.
We loved the shape of this tiny kiosk, which wasn’t yet opened when we passed by. “The name ends in KREM – it must be a small patisserie selling pastry with whipped cream!” When we looked it up, and looked hard at the logo, we found out that Bjornekrem means Bear Cream, and this is a……shoeshine stand!!!!
The clouds were just too beautiful as we were leaving Bergen.
An extra delight today is this video taken of Georgie and Gerald. Every morning, they offer guests different sweets such as cookies, muffins, cupcakes, or beignets. They walk through the breakfast buffet and then everywhere on board where people are relaxing, singing their sweet songs, laughing, and talking with guests. They are the best ambassadors that Norwegian Cruises has, as everyone smiles and chats with them. They are sunshine on a cloudy day! Actually, they are sunshine on a sunny day. They are both just wonderful. Thanks for your music, G&G!

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Day 2,054 of Traveling the World | Geiranger, Norway | September 13, 2023

What do you think? You live in a small – tiny – itty-bitty town in Norway called Geiranger. You know everyone in town, with the population being 250. Not 250 thousand. Just 250. Cruise ships bring in almost half a million passengers during the four-month tourist season. Others arrive by car and bus. Our single cruise ship disgorged 3,000 passengers alone, just in the morning hours. They boarded buses, vans, taxis, boats, and bicycles, and rented regular cars and tiny electric two-passenger cars. The buses and vans took people to the viewpoints high in the mountains. The boats, of every description, took people on scenic cruises. And hundreds of tourists just walked around town. Then they were all gone by 5:00 pm. How do you handle all these people without losing your mind??? Geiranger does handle them, admirably. You live here in quiet peace for eight months out of the year and then work hard for four months to earn enough money to take it easy for eight months. Would you do it?

Geiranger sits at the head of a fjord, but since you travel from the Atlantic to reach the town, it feels more like it sits at the end of the fjord. When you disembark the cruise ship, you look back and realize that the cruise ship is huge. When you reach the top of one of the mountains and look at the scene below, the ship is just dwarfed by the dramatic, steep mountains. For cruise passengers, Geiranger is different because there is no dock for cruise ships, but (thankfully) you also don’t have to use tender boats to get to shore. Instead, the town comes to you with its Seawalk, a three-segment articulated floating pier. The walkway is almost 800 feet long and sits on 10 pontoons. It moves like a floatable jetwalk and can accommodate 4,000 passengers per hour disembarking the ship. There is a photo below.

We walked up what felt like 5,000 steps to get to the top of the Fossevandring, the waterfall that flows through the town and into the bay. It was a good workout! The water was very powerful at times, and when we reached “the top,” we realized that it continued much higher up another mountain. There were also waterfalls just running down the mountains that surround/make up the fjord. Its beauty was almost too much to take in. It had been raining early in the morning, but the sun came out while we were walking, and the sun changed the view completely. Rather than looking ominous, the mountains became radiant.

At the end of the day, leaving the fjord, we watched as nature unfolded before us, like a long movie that doesn’t repeat and doesn’t end. Waterfall after waterfall appeared and splashed into the fjord. The sun played hide-and-seek in the mountains, occasionally revealing itself. It was mesmerizing, and…free. We saw the famous Seven Sisters Waterfall, but it looked like eight streams rather than seven. It was all just fabulous to watch as we slowly sailed by. And, of course, a boat or ship is the only way to see what is buried deep in the fjord.

The town of Geiranger. The mountains dwarf the town.
Here is the Seawalk – the blue disks are pontoons, and there are several places where the walkway can be turned and moved in other directions, depending on the ship’s location and size. It was seamless, walking across the water from the ship to land.
From the 17th deck of the ship, we watched the Seawalk retract, swinging away from the ship and resting along the wharf.
The stores were like little kiosks and were covered with grass, in the Norse tradition.
This restaurant had a floating dock for al fresco dining, but it was in the low 40s, a bit too chilly to enjoy eating outdoors.
You can see the Geiranger Church up the mountain on the right.
Every house we passed had multiple apple trees in their yards, but none had apples as red and inviting as this one! They almost look like Christmas tree balls.
This is what the bottom end of the waterfall looked like as it neared the ocean, where we began our waterfall climb.
A little farther up, the water was more…rambunctious. We speculated about the people who live in the white house on the left – can they sleep in other places that don’t have a loud waterfall nearby?
At the top, overlooking the falls and the viewing platform. (And do you see how small our huge cruise ship looks, down in the bay?)
There were also small waterfalls flowing down the side mountains.
We thought we were back in Hobbiton…this tiny house whose roof was covered in vegetation was just sitting alongside the road, looking cute.
Geiranger Church was built in 1842 in an octagonal design, but it was closed when we visited.
Some of the houses built on the side of the mountain. All had apple trees!
The view from the top had this magnificent view of the fjord. And again, our cruise ship is dwarfed by all the glorious nature around it.
We came into the fjord starting at 5:30 am (when it was still dark outside), but left at 5:00 pm, so on our way out, we were able to photograph Seven Sisters Waterfall, located in the fjord about 4 miles outside of Geiranger.
One of about 100 waterfalls just trickling down the fjord cliffs.

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Day 2,052 of Traveling the World | Alesund, Norway | September 11, 2023

Alesund – the Fairy Tale City. Alesund – the Art Nouveau City. We found both, on a cloudy and rainy day, and were absolutely delighted walking around this charming European city. It is built primarily with Art Nouveau facades and inspiration due to the Alesund Fire in 1904. With the city having been built of wood, everything was pretty much destroyed. Rebuilding during the height of the Art Nouveau movement, the art form shows everywhere. There are facades with flowers, with fairytale towers, with colored domes…it really is quite spectacular – even in the rain! The forecast for the afternoon was 90-100% rain, but it stopped for a while, and mostly just drizzled. We got a bit wet, but it was very much worth every drop of rain on our jackets and shoes.

We are on a cruise ship called the Norwegian Prima, and it is very youthful, very up-to-date, and has the best food we have ever had at sea. All the other ships we have sailed seem stodgy and “quaint” – now – compared to the Prima. The food is fresh, much of it made to order, and everything just tastes delicious. The chefs aren’t afraid of spice! We are amazed that the passengers are mostly American, since the cruise originated in Iceland. And we are quite impressed with it all, although it does carry more than 3,000 passengers, so at times it feels quite crowded. But oh, the food….every other ship could modernize and take lessons from the Prima.

This inlet runs through the city of Alesund, placing the city on two separate islands joined by a bridge.
Across the inlet, the buildings are very colorful.
An overview of the city from our cruise ship.
There were low clouds as we docked.
The dome and spire are constant themes in Alesund.
…and again… (notice that the top of the spire says 1905, the date the city was rebuilt.)
Lovenvold Theater sits on a corner close to the harbor.
A cobblestone street leads to stores, restaurants, and cafes.
These unusual wooden benches contain the face of a person!
A lighthouse sits out at the end of the inlet.
We caught some kayakers adding a “splash” of color to the gray day.
The gold ornamentation is so beautiful...along with the tower, of course.
Flowers on the facade are so pretty.
…and again….
The dormer windows and spire add drama to the top of this building.
We can picture this street jammed with people on a sunny day.
Quite creepy. Trolls are everywhere, both in statue form and in the names of places and tour companies.
Very witchy looking.
More flower panels on the facade.
…and a few more flowers…
This is a former pharmacy, turned into the Centre for Art Nouveau. It is one of the most photographed buildings in Alesund.
…and if you thought the first photo of trolls was creepy, this one should terrify…
A perfect, dramatic late-afternoon shot as we get ready to depart.

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Day 2,047 of Traveling the World | Reykjavik, Iceland | September 6, 2023

Tour companies in Reykjavik name their Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis outings “Hunting the Northern Lights.” It is appropriate, since our tour went to two different sites to see them, aided by apps…we were hunting. Alas, we did not see them, as the conditions weren’t right. But we got some phenomenal midnight shots of the skies and lighthouses. It was pretty cold with the wind, and our tour left Reykjavik at 10:00 pm (until 1:30 am), so we were very happy to get home that night. Our cruise this week heads to northern Iceland and then Norway, so we are hoping that we may see the Northern Lights some night, late, on the cruise ship. Fingers crossed!

Mike went out the other day to run an errand, and he came back and said, “I just got kissed by a woman!” Amused, Jan asked what the circumstances were. He had passed two women, one wearing a white veil and a white tutu over her leggings. He thought of taking a photo, but decided it wasn’t that unusual. Mike kept walking, and the woman he had seen caught up with him down around the block and asked him something in Icelandic (he assumed), of which he didn’t understand a word. He told her that he didn’t speak the language. She then asked in English, “Are you bold?” Mike, wondering if he was about to be asked to buy something, asked, “What do you mean by that?” She then asked, “Can I kiss you?” Mike, still wondering if this was some sort of a sales pitch, and if so, what kind, asked, “Why would you want to kiss me?” She said that, as is the Icelandic custom, she was going to get married and had to do a sort of scavenger hunt, and she needed her friend to take photos to document her success, this one being kissing a stranger on the head. See photo below! He was happy to help her in her marital quests. Mike told Jan that he wasn’t sure why, of all the people around, they left their seats and pursued him around a corner to fulfill the requirement. Did she need to kiss an old man? A chubby man? Someone who she would never want to kiss in any other circumstance? In any case, Mike was happy not to inquire further, wallow in his ignorance, and assume only the best.

In late August every year, Reykjavik celebrates Culture Night – all day long! Activities for adults and children are free, all over the city, all day long. We headed over to Harpa Concert Hall for a Battle of the Brass Bands, and we walked by families involved in a whole series of events and crafts: building and then floating boats; building and then walking on stilts; building birdhouses; building a jenga tower and seeing how long it could be held upright; free cotton candy all day long; a hymn festival at Hallgrimskirkja, the main church; another 5-6 concerts at the concert hall, etc. It was marvelous to see all the locals out, having fun and enjoying activities for free, with everything provided by the city government. Music was playing into the night. It was just a full day of celebration and fun, and we enjoyed it greatly.

Gardskagaviti Lighthouse, around midnight, as we hunted for the Northern Lights.
Gardur Old Lighthouse, in the same location as the previous photo. But this is looking out at the North Atlantic, in utter blackness.
A camper van, also hunting the Northern Lights. We were in a pretty popular place.
The windows of this shop all had decals on the glass. Naturally, this one was our favorite!
Street art definitely in the style of Hieronymus Bosch. We loved it.
One store was decked out in 1950s advertising slogans and illustrations.
Tjornin Lake on an afternoon walk, this time with swans. We can see why it draws the locals on weekends.
This is the soon-to-be married woman who chased Mike down for a kiss.
Just outside of town were these fumaroles, venting smoke from down under.
We loved our hotel with our room facing Parliament Square, as we saw tour groups, brides and bridal parties, dancing, drinking…it all comes to Parliament Square eventually. It was so fun.
If you’re a horse, this is the place to buy your sweaters.
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra played a delightful program featuring Music from the Movies. The lighting was quite bright and interesting.
Culture Night brought out ogres and just about all of Reykjavik.
Outside Harpa Concert Hall was a Battle of the Brass Bands.
A unicyclist made her way around, drawing interest.
Kids were making boats and trying out their buoyancy in the decorative fountains and pools outside Harpa.
The City provided wood, nails, hammers, etc., for children to try to build boats and birdhouses. It seemed that more adults were doing the actual work, though.
There was also an area to build, and try out, walking on stilts. This woman was one of the few successes we saw. Video below.
Walking on stilts. She made it look easy. Her husband, watching her, promptly fell off every time he attempted to stand on the stilts.
People playing jenga – their structure lasted way longer than all the rest.
In several places in the city, free cotton candy was being given out to everyone.
A fun window in an old building.
There was a hymn festival at the main church. Jan was dismayed that we sat looking at an enormous organ and organ pipes, but every hymn was played on the piano. How could they??????
We are a disgrace. We opened our program to this hymn, and without glasses, AND thinking the program was in English (which it wasn’t), Jan whispered to Mike, “What are they thinking? ‘Jesus is the Best Banana??’” (It is in Icelandic, of course, and translates to “Jesus is the Best Friend of Children.”)

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Day 2,042 of Traveling the World | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland | September 1, 2023

“Oh, are you leading the tour going to SNAY-fells (mutter mutter)?” – we said something like that, to make sure we were boarding the correct minivan, out of 50 or so that stop at each pickup point. The guide nodded affirmatively, then gave us a lesson: in Icelandic, an “ae” together sound like “eye,” so the word is pronounced SNI-fells-ness. We brightened up! “It ends like Loch Ness!” We got an amused look, but we didn’t again pronounce it incorrectly all day long.

Stopping at Kirkjufell Mountain was the highlight of the trip, as it is one of the iconic views in this part of the world. Crews had arrived there for two months over several years to film Game of Thrones, as this is known as Arrowhead Mountain in the series. But our tour of this beautiful, volcanic peninsula held many gorgeous views and other meaningful locations.

It was thrilling to see the volcano Snaefellsjokull on the peninsula, where Jules Verne set his novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. When we were in France last summer, we visited Verne’s house and grave. Interested, we then read the novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, set in Iceland. Even though the volcano was covered in clouds and fog, it was a thrill to see the location where he set this sci-fi fantasy.

Another interesting place we saw was a black beach that was very long and wide and had lots of oxidized parts of a shipwreck from March 1948. It was a British trawler called the Epine GY 7, and five out of a crew of 19 were saved. We were puzzled by all the pieces of metal scattered on the beach. Elsewhere, we are certain that they would have been placed in a museum, or returned to their home country, or destroyed, or at least cleared from the beach. It would be a potential litigation issue in the US if somebody got hurt or cut from touching it. When we said this to our guide, he said that when he was younger, he and his friends would joke that if they lived in the US, they could sue over something for a lot of money and become rich!!

Kirkjufell Mountain (Arrowhead Mountain in Game of Thrones) as seen from the side of Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall. The North Atlantic Ocean forms the backdrop.
One of the great views as we drove along the Peninsula.
…and another!
There is lots of rain here, so it is very green. Streams run down from mountains everywhere.
You can see glaciers and year-around snow at the top of the mountain.
There are so many views of distant mountains – very serene, very beautiful.
The day we traveled here, it was this exact contrast seen in this photo: gray clouds, sometimes with rain, yet blue sky peeking through.
The clouds!
Djupalonssandur, a very, VERY long and wide black beach at the edge of the North Atlantic. The path we climbed down was a bit farther to the right, then we slogged through the black sand – it was very thick, so the walk was slow going.
Signs talked about the remains of shipwrecks, and warned not to disturb “the remains,” which were everywhere.
There were also quite a lot of rocks on the beach. We liked the rock formation out in the ocean, on the left.
The pebbles are so old that they are all perfectly smooth and rounded. This is from thousands of years of being shaped by waves, which remove all the imperfections over time. Then they are washed onto the beach.
The entire peninsula was very volcanic, making this pathway feel like a walk on the moon! (By the way, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin trained here because of the area’s resemblance to the lunar surface).
This is Snaefellsjokull, the volcano (covered in low clouds/fog when we visited) that IS the main character in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” The author never visited Iceland, and did not know that there is an Ice Age glacier parked on top of the peak!
With this whole area having volcanic rock everywhere, we were warned not to walk on it, covered in moss, as the moss covers holes many feet deep into which people have fallen – we were told, “never to be seen again.”
We stopped at this beach to see seals, but only saw two at a distance on rocks, which weren’t notable enough to put in this blog. Some people there mentioned places in California where there were more seals and they were closer, bigger, more interesting, etc. But look at all the black volcanic rock that provides (slippery) stepping-stones out to the ocean.
There is a great walking path atop the cliffs in Arnarstapi, where we saw these great rock formations.
On another cliff face in Arnarstapi was this wild strata of rock and orange coloring.
These small outcrops almost looked like sea animals.
This mountain never “smoothed out” – you can see the lava flow, still!
It was amazing to see hay rolls, and farmed fields, adjacent to the ocean. We told our guide that in the US, there would be hotels or luxury houses competing for that view. He was amazed!
Budakirkja – Budir Church. The remarkable thing is that a church was built here in 1703, and abolished about 100 years later. One woman fought to have a church once again, but the national church rejected her request. By the way, the Lutheran church is THE official church of the country. In 1848 she received Royal permission to open the church, and on the door it noted, “…this church was built in 1848 without the support of the spiritual fathers…” OUCH!
A riding group was leaving this site at the same time we were. Our driver inched behind them and would not pass, saying that it would scare the horses. But they only held us up for about five minutes. As you can see from these examples, the horses here are relatively small and in some ways unique due to some historical events. You can look up the history of Icelandic horses if you are interested.
Vikings, and Viking sayings, are SO popular here!