There are some spots in Reykjavik that have a sort of pull, and not always a good one. I suspect anyone versed in feng shui would know that it's a chi thing, energy that's stuck or abused in some manner, and can't flow as is its nature to do. This is one of those places, the part of Vallarstræti which has become basically an alley between Ingólfstorg and Austurvellir, with the well-known Nasa music venue there on the left. It's of course shadowy, stuck there between tallish buildings, and has been the service access for restaurants and hotels since forever, but there's something more going on there than just a lack of sunlight.

Once again, while just casually searching the netosphere for the history of this street I found all sorts of interesting things, most all in Icelandic unfortunately. For example, I found this 2011 article by our current prime minister (who I'd say should just stick to trying to have an effect on the development of our city and stay completely away from vain and puffy attempts to run a whole nation.) He's gathered some nice old-timey photos of this city center area, and is actually making a good case for preserving the historical buildings still standing, and even rebuilding some that were lost, for example Hótel Ísland, which burned down in 1944 (I don't know that I agree with rebuilding it where it was, right in the center of what's now Ingólfstorg, but his general idea is to rebuild with modern methods but in the old timber-and/or-corrugated-iron style.) I also found this collection of old photos in a short piece by Egill Helgason, a super nice and friendly, well-respected but bulldog-style journalist and media presence (video).  It turns out that this is the 100th anniversary of the Great Fire of Reykjavík (here's one more article about that traumatic event, in Icelandic, but also with great photos, and also a good article from the Reykjavik Grapevine about the history of Reykjavik overall.)  

If you take a look at the images in this article from the Cultural Heritage Agency, you'll see on page 5 a map with known Settlement Era structures, and how they literally overlap with what's currently a very poorly-utilized torg (long-time readers will remember this article about how it's basically a skate-park as is.) Given that this location has been lived on since the 9th century (the Reykjavik 871 museum is testament to that fact) I think care needs to be taken to make sure the energies of the area are kept in positive motion. There's active geothermal water right under the plaza as well, and it's important for water in any of its forms to be allowed to flow as it needs to, and not just forced as steam up metal pipes popping up from an expanse of paving-stones. Visitors come here hoping to experience something quaint and charming, something historical, and while I do not advise us locals dressing up in Viking period costumes or play-acting as naive elf-loving bumpkins to earn all that money tourists want to throw at us, I do think we should respect our heritage enough to not go all glass-and-steel-and cement in exactly this location, though we're doomed to do it in others.

So as I said, there are some spots in our city that seem to have something else going on, something ancient, or otherworldly, or energetically-charged, and it's of the utmost importance that we humans act as caretakers, and not oppressors or suppressors of the natural flow of things. In my humble opinion, this alley-street needs some love, and probably not in the manner that's currently on the table, as can be seen in this first-place proposal.  Wouldn't it be nice to actually just have some actual nature at this spot? Maybe nicely managed, in accessible garden-park style, but nature as it was before any settler ever set foot there. Rip up the paving stones, help the waters to flow freely, add some moss and stones and benches, and let this heart of Reykjavík live again.


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Öskjuhlíð Forest in Reykjavik

Click on the header to go to the main Iceland Eyes page, and be sure to visit the recommended pages below each post or use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I reference my older posts quite a bit and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland : )

Saturday was a perfect day for outdoor adventures here in Reykjavik. I started thinking of all the cool places we could go in the surrounding area for a nice walk or hike, including Heiðmörk, Esja (also take a look at the webcam), Straumsvík, the Hengill area between Hveragerði and Þingvellir, or even just having Óðinn pick a trail out of the book I translated, Walking Trails of the Greater Reykjavik Area: 25 Beautiful Walks (...and lo and behold! another groovy internet discovery made while looking for a good article to link to: this post by a family who used that very book and blogged about their adventure on Walk no. 1 around Straumsvík!)

When I told him of my plan he said, "Awesome! If I get to choose, then let's have a picnic at Öskjuhlíð!" (btw, that link leads to a great article on the WWII history of that area.)

I had wanted something more unusual than just the forest on the hill right over there, a three and a half minute drive away, but that's what he wanted, and in fact it made sense to stick closer to home since a bank of dark grey clouds loomed on the far horizon. So we grabbed a backpack and fixin's for pb&j sandwiches (part of my American heritage that I've passed on to my kids, but not historically popular at all here in a matter of fact, I don't remember peanut butter even being available here twenty years ago) and off we went!

I have to admit I'm always pleasantly surprised by how lovely and calm it is there, just minutes from the bustle of the city. Óðinn wondered if we'd see any animals during our meal, knowing full well we don't have the kind of beasts here in Iceland you'd find at a picnic in California, for example (no squirrels, no ants, no raccoons, no bears, no too-bold little birdies ; ) There are definitely bucketloads of rabbits on the hill, but I've only seen glimpses of them darting away myself.

But to our surprise, just as we were done laying out our picnic blanket and were getting ready to start munching on our sandwiches, a happy Icelandic Sheepdog came bounding up, trying to sneak into our donuts! Its owner whistled for it a moment later, and as quickly as it came it was gone.

Just as we set off for our hike through the woods, though, another even more gorgeous animal came arrived....the beautiful golden Lab (is that right?) pictured, who took a deep fancy to Óðinn's walking stick. She found us again and again over the next half hour in between being called away by her person. We were also lucky enough to see, and sometimes just sense, all sorts of otherworldly beings over the next few hours, the kind that don't usually choose to be recorded. And on that note, ground has been officially broken at Öskjuhlíð for a new Pagan Temple, the first high temple of its kind in the world in almost a thousand years. That's good news!

So if you end up getting burnt out on doing touristy stuff here, if you've seen one too many museums or you can't stand the idea of another souvenir shop presenting products for your purchasing pleasure, let your feet guide you over to the forest underneath the big shiny Perlan dome. Such a simple adventure, but I promise your spirit will feel renewed ~°~

A large Elven Stone at Öskjuhlíð  
Note: the dogs we met were officially breaking the law, or at least their humans were, by not being on leashes. Though I get it, it still makes me sad, seeing how friendly these two were, and how much natural fun they were having. This Iceland Review article by focuses on canine life in our big little city, a place that's nearly overrun with cats, as is. Maybe some day I'll write about how the Reykjavik police back in the late 40's captured my father's beloved dog, put it in a burlap sack and made the whole family watch while they shot her, including my dad, who was no more than nine at the time...but that's probably more than you wanted to know... (believe me, though, I'm very glad to not have dog-doings all over our sidewalks and parks!)

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The heated foot bath at Seltjarnarnes 

As if someone turned on the lights, or as if the tide of seasons has turned, life in our city is bustling again. We can't honestly say winter is over, but most of us who live in cold climates will admit that we're willing to handle cold. It's dreary, murky darkness of the post holiday season and its slicing winds that do our souls in. We hunker down deeper into our parkas and wait for the sun to return.

 Make no mistake, it's still hovering around the frost mark here on our island, and some regions, like at the east coast fjords, haven't even seen beneath the past winter's snows yet (here's a link to live cameras over in the Reyðarfjörður area where


The bridge leading from Iðnó to the Ráðhús (Reykjavík City Hall)

Visiting lovers photographing each other on a misty rainbowy bridge. What more is there to say? : )

For some more sweet shots of love, there's this photo of a tourist girlfriend being coaxed onto our frozen town lake for the first time by her boyfriend, this one of a local penguin declaring his faith, and this one of a couple enjoying the view at Þingvellir National Park.

(Click on the header to go to the main Iceland Eyes page. If you're a new visitor, be sure to visit the recommended pages below, or you can use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I've just started collapsing older posts, so for full articles, hit the 'Read more' links . In addition, I reference my older posts quite a bit, and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland.)


Njálsgata, midtown Reykjavík
( Note: this is my 703rd post, so if you're a new visitor, be sure to follow the 'Older Posts' link at the bottom right side of this page. Or you can use the archives feature down at the bottom as well. I've just started collapsing older posts, so for full articles, hit the 'Read more' links . In addition, I reference my older posts quite a bit, and try to find the most relevant and unique external info sources, so let the links in my articles take you even further into the adventure that is Iceland : )

Well well, best laid plans, etc...

We haven't yet made it to lands east, as per my last post. Take a good look at this slightly awkward photo and you'll see that a portion of our house is bound to our tree, and that the roof and gutter are in bad shape. Gale-force winds in mid-March happened to be blowing at exactly the right angle to pry their surreptitious fingers under the corrugated iron and literally make red metal wings out of it, seeming to flap in some desperate take-off attempt, held down only by decades-old nails set in the much older wood frame. Luckily,


The road in to Hveragerði

I wish I could say I'm heading into my future on the road less traveled, but to be honest, pretty much anyone who's visited Iceland, and everyone who lives here, has covered this particular swath of pavement. It's just at the top of the steep and winding section of the ring road, Highway 1, that leads into past Hveragerði before continuing east into Selfoss and adventures beyond.

It's not, then, a hidden path or even a particularly inaccessible one, this road, although in winter time the heath that needs to be crossed before starting the descent into the lands to the east can be treacherous...


Beautiful murals just off of Bergstaðastræti in the heart of Reykjavik, 

I've tried to quit this blog quite a few times in the past decade, but have always felt compelled to post just one more photo, just one more entry. Historically I've announced my decision with explanations and justifications and excuses, which have been hard to backtrack on when the urge to share has overtaken me. This time around I took a quite pause from posting because it just seemed to make sense to. It was a part of an overall readjustment for me, a realignment with my inner self that lasted all of last Fall.


Sunset from Ægissíða in the west side of Reykjavík

Sunsets and sunrises have been extraordinarily lovely here due, unfortunately, to the poisonous sulfur dioxide cloud that's being emitted by our latest volcano and gently wafted over the southwest of the island by a calm breeze. Savor the irony of that for a moment, then consider whether that's not an exact metaphor for life in general...


The harpoon on Hvalur 9 at dock in Hvalfjörður, with retired whaling ships in the background

It's been a while since I posted last, and in that time I've been considering what to write to accompany this photo of a whaling harpoon, taken aboard Hvalur 9, a beautiful ship owned by Kristján Loftsson and the company his father started back in 1948, Hvalur hf. If you've been here and seen the four whaling ships that are usually docked at the Reykjavik harbor, (or seen this post from 2005) just imagine something a big larger but in the same style. Hvalur 9 and its crew, you see, hunt fin whales. 


Sómastaðir, in Reyðarfjörður

You might recognize this house if you've been reading Iceland Eyes for a while. It's the one my great-grandfather, Hans Beck, built, and where my grandmother (one of his 23 children) was born (click on the link to read more about its history).


A gorgeous flower that bloomed at the edge of a gravel driveway on Skólvörðurstígur

Happy birthday to Iceland Eyes! 

Not only is this my 696th post, Iceland Eyes is now starting its 10th year of existence! As a matter of fact I just realized that my first-ever post was on August 8th, 2004, exactly a decade ago today! 


An house now inhabited by geese on the northern shore of Seyðisfjörður

We've been away traveling quite a bit, and just got back into 101 from Seyðisfjörður, an absolute gem of a town with stunning waterfalls and craggy, intrepid mountains everywhere you look. We tented again and this time enjoyed warm, sunny and windless skies, which was welcomed after the dreary stuff we've had to accept in the capital region this summer (to be fair, of course, we are in the North Atlantic, just under the Arctic Circle, and this place is called Iceland...why do the locals always complain about the weather?)


Óðinn on a great rock at the Vík í Mýrdal campgrounds

We camped at Vík í Mýrdal last week, my son and I. I always have a tent and blankets and basic supplies in the trunk of my car so we can skip out of town with a moment's notice if the weather looks good, and last week, though it rained and rained in Reykjavik, the sun shown down on the south coast.


Kid with towel at Nauthólsvík beach in Reyjavík

I just love this photo! I snapped it today out at Nauthólsvík, the white-sand beach here in Reykjavík  (btw, read the post in that last link for a good journey down memory lane - I wrote it in 2007 about how amazing Iceland's economic growth was, and how much we deserved it! Haha!) which sits just below Perlan and the Öskjuhlíð forest (here's a good article from the Grapevine about this area.).  A group of pre-schoolers were on a field trip to the beach, and this little dude was spreading his towel out at the top of the hillock above where we sat.

June Sun


11:30pm last Thursday night, looking down Skólavörðurstígur. Lovely!