Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Iceland 2 - Reykjavik and Elf School

January 17th 2020

Hallgrimskirkja
Today we explored Reykjavik. We first went to Hallgrimskirkja the beautiful church that soars into the sky and is visible from most places within the city centre. Inside it is simple in design but I find it very beautiful.

I went up the tower, the first part is a lift to the floor where the clock faces are. From there you walk a few flights of steps to a higher floor where there are three windows on each face of the tower. The views were stunning from every vantage point, but my favourite was the one towards the mountain Esja that watches over the city. She looked especially beautiful in her cloak of snow.

After this we walked down to the main shopping street Laugavegur and browsed. We then went to the concert hall, Harpa which is an amazing piece of modern architecture that looks different on the outside depending on the light. We again looked round the shops inside, I bought a warm hat and a tub of Lakrids, delicious  Danish delight of liquorice covered in chocolate. Both expensive but worth it - the hat especially useful the following day!

We decided to have lunch there and shared a large sandwich and had a cake each.

View of Esja from Tower of Hallgrimskirkja

We went back to the hotel before setting of for the Elf School (yes you read right). As it was a bit away from the city centre we got a taxi there. As we got out of the taxi the driver said, "Are you going to learn to be elves or learn about them?" This gave us a good laugh!

The school was on the first floor of a modern building, with large plastic gnomes guarding the door. We went into a rather chaotic room, we later learned some renovations were in progress. We paid our money , were given a studybook  (which was interesting to read afterwards) and then went into another room which had chairs in it. The room was small, filled with bookcases full of books and mementos, photos, elves, gnomes, lamps and pot plants that were a bit worse for wear. It was all very eccentric and I liked that!

Magnús Skarphéðinsson who runs the school is a portly man  with grey hair and beard who, quite fittingly, resembles a gnome. He studied history, anthropology and folklore at university in Iceland. He aims to put together a book of stories of elves and the hidden people of Iceland as told by people he's spoken to as no one has so far done this.

There were nine people there, Americans, Irish, Germans and us Brits.  Magnús spoke for a long time, telling stories that people had told him about elves (many types exist from tiny to about two feet high) who live alongside us but are secretive.  The hidden people are just like us but live in another dimension that humans can only occasionally enter

He quite often drifted of on tangents including asking what Marian and I thought of Brexit and that he thought it would mean the break up of the UK and the Queen would only be "Queen of England" in the end which I think is quite possible. He told us about his brother Ossur who had been Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Icelandic government and had an amusing story about Obama. He had some pretty off the wall theories about schizophrenia which some people agreed with, but not me, but I kept quiet. He is also part of the paranormal community in Reykjavik.

We learned a lot about Icelandic history, how hard life was until relatively recently and folklore. The stories he told were captivating. Sometimes roads are re-routed in Iceland so as not to upset the elves and hidden people.

We had a break when we had pancakes filled with cream and jam plus lovely homemade bread, really tasty. This was followed by chocolate wafer bars and a hot drink. As we were eating I noticed snow was starting to fall outside.

My Diploma
Magnus talked for three and a half hours, I think he could have gone on until midnight! It was a bit too long for me but I did enjoy it, certainly a unique experience! At the end we were given our course completion diplomas in  "Elfs and Hidden People research study." Luckily we didn't have to sit an exam lol!

I asked Magnús if he could call a taxi to take us back into the city centre but we were lucky, his husband (who had supplied the food and drinks and generally looked after everyone) was going into the city and was happy to give us a lift. He was a lovely, quietly spoken guy (unfortunately I didn't catch his name.)  He told us that he was originally from north west Iceland but had lived in Reykjavik for a long time and worked as an accountant.  He dropped us off right outside our hotel which was wonderful.

We nipped to the small supermarket beside our hotel and bought sandwiches and crisps to eat in our room. They were lovely and quite cheap. So ended another day in which we saw many sides of this wonderful city!


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