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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