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Sólfar (The Sun Voyager), Reykjavík, Iceland

This sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason reflects the fundamental importance of the sea in both Iceland’s past and present. The abstract ribs of the longship looked wonderful in the slighty wan autumnal morning light. On the far side of the fjord is Mt Esja, clad scantily in the first snowy wreaths of winter. Behind lie half-finished apartment blocks and penthouses: I couldn’t help but wonder how much demand there would be for such expensive dwellings in the wake of the financial crisis which has engulfed the Icelandic economy recently. Icelanders seem to be a pretty determined and tough people, so I have faith that this’ll remain a constant, despite the transience of some elements of the modern society all around. I suspect that Sólfar better typifies steadfastness and stoicism over largesse and materialism.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or for more info in Google Earth.

Höfði, Reykjavík, Iceland

All the tourist guides mention this rather lovely wooden house, (actually a prefab from Norway), as being the scene of the historic Cold War summit in 1986 which marked the turning point in relations between east and west. Gorbachev and Reagan sat down here and managed to hammer out reciprocal arms reduction deals, probably in between great seafood. What the books don’t portray is how diminutive the house is: it doesn’t look like it would fit even a small proportion of the US President’s security detail these days.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.

Outside Perlan at dusk

Another view of the magnificent Perlan building, overlooking Reykjavik.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.

On the roof of Perlan, Reykjavik

Enjoying the view from the viewing deck on the top of Perlan (The Pearl). This is a giant geothermal water storage facility on Öskjuhlíð hill, with magnificent views overlooking Reykjavik. Although it’s only a few minutes from the city centre, it feels strangely distanced from the hum of urban life, insulated by forests and parkland. The dusk light was magical, and the views over the city stunning; a perfect introduction for our first evening in Reykjavik.

Click below for a fullscreen 360° view of the scene in Flash or QuickTime format, or for more info in Google Earth and Wikipedia.