We started off the morning bright and early – well, by bright, I mean it didn’t get light until nearly 8am today, and by early, I mean we didn’t leave the house until nearly 10am! We were heading out first to go searching for a monument… the Eve Online Monument. Eve Online is not technically ‘huge’ in the world of MMORPGs (Did I get that right? I’m am guessing I probably didn’t and by my comment, you are probably guessing correctly that I didn’t care enough to Google it!) with roughly a million die-hard players – but it is huge in Iceland. So big that they have erected an actual physical monument to the in game plaers which is engraved with all the player names on it. We went hunting it out for a friend of ours who plays so we could take a photo of his avatar engraved on the monument… It’s not exactly easy to find – but there is an online map telling you roughly which area each name is located – and yes, we found Drakey’s avatar! It’s something to do with spaceships and wars in space or something. I dunno. #computergaming #notmycupoftea After ferreting out the Eve Online Monument, I convinced yale to swing past the Sun Voyager (again) so I could see it in the morning light. This is still such a stunning piece of art. I love it… so evocative, you can imagine it sailing out across the fjord. 🙂 This time fewer tourists were there hogging prime spots – but there’s always one jerk. This time a Kiwi, who stood around while his wife took his pictures and then he went wandering all around the sculpture – if it had been a car, he would have been kicking the tyres – while about 10 people are standing around shivering in the freezing cold waiting for him to fuck off out of our photographs! Urgh!We were then heading indoors for a while (thankfully!) to the National History Museum, which is quite an impressive building in its own right.
I have started doing up a full post on just the items we saw in the museum – most of them are items I have not seen published in other books and catalogues, so I have done my best to capture them (in the dodgy museum lighting conditions) and to keep their detailed descriptions accessible too. I hope to get this done when I get on a train to Prague day after tomorrow… but we will see! There were lots of wonderful artefacts from the dark ages and medieval periods, and the second floor contained the 17th to 21st centuries – which as per usual, I skimmed through and barely took any notes at all because, well it’s just too modern for my interests. So here is a hint of what is to come in the full musuem post:
Around the corner from the museum is the famous Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran church which I have written about previously in my past travels. It is said to be designed with the volcanic basalt columns as an inspiration and influence. Having seen the columns on the beaches of Iceland now – I can see it a lot more clearly and have a new appreciation for the building. Previously, it just looked like a stark, way too modern, design to be a comforting place of worship – but now it kinda seems like it belongs here. We did a little poke around the shops here a little – I stooped to buying a t-shirt… which in my defence was only marginally more costly than a tea towel at the end of summer sales. 🙂
So, lunchtime rolls around and we find ourselves hunting for the Bæjarins Bbeztu Pylsur stand, which quite literally means in English: ‘The Best Hot Dog in Town’. We find the little food truck exactly where is supposed to be not far from the Reykjavik harbour and to my surprise, it is surrounded by people standing around in the cold, which is about 3°C but with the wind feels about -1°, eating hot dogs! I’m not so sure about this al fresco dining thing in this weather, but we dutifully line up for a hot dog. In August 2006, The Guardian newspaper selected Bæjarins Beztu as the Best Hot Dog Stand in Europe – big call. Since then plenty of famous people have come along and tried the now world renown, Bæjarins Beztu hotdogs. Among them are former US President, Bill Clinton, and even cooler, James Hetfield of Metallica fame… and now borys and yale join this illustrious companie of people who have stood around eating hot dogs in sub-zero temperatures.
It was so cold, but the hot dogs were tasty enough, I guess.
Across the road from the hot dog stand is the moorings for the Icelandic Coast Guard. This ship has been here each time I have been in Reykjavik – either that or they have three identical ships (not out of the question). I have kept meaning to take a photo of it – it’s pretty impressive. The Icelandic Coast Guard is primarily responsible for Iceland’s coastal defences and maritime and aeronautical search and rescue processes, but they have also been called upon to do things like bomb disposal?
So… after lunch, we made our way to the famous Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka the Reykjavik Penis Museum or the Reykjavik Dick Museum. *titter titter*.
It was founded in1997 by a now-retired teacher named, Sigurður Hjartarson. It is now run his son Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson. Apparently, the museum grew from what was just a private collection that started when Sigurður was given a cattle whip made from a bull’s penis when he was a kid. He then started collecting penises of Icelandic animals from sources around the country and has dicks in his collection that range from the 170 cm front tip of a blue whale penis to the 2 mm (0.08 in) baculum of a hamster, which is displayed under a magnifying glass.
The museum also houses many other phallic items and artworks. Longtime poet and environmental activist, Danish Sculptor, Pjarne P Ejass (1945 – ) created this “Viagra Phallus” in the form of a scorn pole. The work displays the artist’s contempt for all things that deviate from the normal course of nature, and the work is intended to convey his statement, “Stop Fiddling with Nature,” The artist donated the work to the Icelandic Phallological Museum in the summer of 2004 and it was erected in May 2005.
yale for scale. A rather painful looking toothpick holder: Dried sperm whale penis: Preserved pilot whale penis: Various penises belonging to different dolphins and porpoises: And this magnificent specimen – is a Narwhal! Narwhal! Living in the ocean…!
(Only not so much this one anymore, he’s been lopped off and preserved in formaldehyde.) African bull elephant: An eland, a dromedary and giraffe penises: Killer whale penis: yale for scale An artwork based on the penises of the National Icelandic Handball Team that represented Iceland at the Bejing Olympics in 2008. 😮 Freyr – Viking God of Fertility:
All up the Phallological Museum was kinda interesting – it seems to be a bit of a ‘must see’ when in Reykjavik, but only because you’re literally not able to see a collection like this anywhere else in the world. The gift shop missed some huge opportunities though – can you imagine the dick related paraphernalia they could be flogging? Instead, there is a handful of magnets and keychains and a few bad taste aprons and knitted elephant penis socks.
While we were leaving – some of the ladies working the reception at Dick Museum were about to have some lovely looking cinnamon scrolls for afternoon tea which smelled just divine. They told me that they were from the food hall across the street, so naturally, we decided to go find some. Fantastic! Cinnamon for me, and liquorice and blueberry for yale… still warm from the oven, perfect for this sort of weather.
From here we did what was probably the first bit of real touristy shopping we have done since we arrive in Iceland. We wandered down the main shopping street which pretty much leads from the Hallgrímskirkja church down towards the waterfront esplanade. I got to stop in the Tuilipop shop this time, which was closed when I was here last – luckily their plush Freds are not very soft or I would have found myself buying a rather expensive and unnecessary plush toy to take home!
Icelanders have come to have a love/hate relationship with the tourists that saved them from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. They love the income and the jobs that are provided from the huge boost they have seen in tourism over the last decade, but they hate what it is doing to their island. Downtown Reykjavik used to be full of useful shops for locals to go do their shopping and meet with friends, now it is full of what they derisively refer to as The Puffin Shops. Any/all souvenir shops are known as Puffin Shops and for obvious reasons…
There is so much shit here with puffins on it – and because I have been here three times now and have yet to see a single goddamn puffin that isn’t stuffed (like the AUD$450 ones in the top left hand picture!), I flatly refuse to buy so much as a sticker with a puffin on it. I think the puffins here are like the trolls – just some sort of myth.
After a little wander down through the town, we decided to head towards the Perlan which is a landmark building with observation decks and gallery spaces, created from some old water tanks that were high on a hill overlooking the city. Unfortunately, the Perlan was closed from 1 Oct to 14 Oct, so we didn’t get to go in or go up. I guess it’s that time of year – they need to do maintenance before the winter sets in properly, but don’t want to be doing it when it is going to affect too many visitors.
Then it was sadly time to head back to our AirBnB and get packing! Oh no… time to pack to leave Iceland. I am feeling a bit sad about going actually. We have had almost two weeks here and seen soooo many truly beautiful places and things, but I am left feeling like there is so much more we could see and do if we had more time and way more money. I’ve never been in a country more expensive than this place – it really makes you weigh up your travel plans – How long have I got? How much do we think we can see? Can we afford to actually eat once we get here? If we make the trip longer to see more things, can we even afford the extra night’s car hire and accommodation?! It is just nuts. For our last night in Iceland, we thought we’d go out for one final nice, but predictably, overpriced meal. We ended up at the Geysir Bistro near Ingólfur Square. It was a more relaxed environment that the last two restaurants we went to and the menu looked likewise slightly more modest. But the food – still fancy AF. We toasted our last night with some Brennavin and congratulated ourselves on having only had one shit fight in two weeks in close quarters! 😛 It’s bound to happen – travelling with people is one way to really test the friendship/relationship! All your best and all your worst will eventually come out. 🙂
So here’s ‘Skål..!’ to Iceland. I have no idea if I will ever be back. I know there is still plenty of wonders here to discover – but there’s so many places I have never been, that doubling back here again seems highly unlikely*
*I said that last time… and look what happened! Hoping the trick works again! 😉