The campsite was right in town and turned out to be crammed full of young backpackers and cyclists either just arriving and getting sorted or just finishing their trip and packing up for home. Small tents like coloured mushrooms dotted the grassed areas and the kitchens, bathrooms and seating areas were full of the chatter of people asking for information and advice or telling stories of their travels. The common language is English in all kinds of accents. In fact English is widely spoken by everyone we have come across, locals and visitors alike … thank goodness.
The bus took us into the centre of town - except that we were not too sure where the centre of town was. After three highly intoxicated men (at 10 in the morning) got on, we were the only others left on the bus. Way out into the harbour area we went. The bus stopped and the trio piled out. The driver was very helpful and when he discovered where we wanted to be told us we should have got off where the three drunks got on! He delivered us back to town and we had had an extra little sightseeing trip around the harbour.
Reykjavik is not a big city - more like a big country town. There is very little high rise, and that is only about 6 stories. The inner city houses are brightly-painted corrugated iron buildings with steep roofs and white painted windows. Many of the commercial buildings and shops too are built of corrugated iron. And this is not just in the city: all through the country it is a common material for both roofs and walls. We walked to the Hallsgrímskirkja, a huge towering church, modern as tomorrow, built of concrete and with tall, clear glass windows making the interior delightfully light and airy. Eight stories up by lift brings you to the top of the tower with marvellous 360° views.
We have been looking out for local delicacies to try - though rancid shark is not currently on the 'must-have' list. Our choice of restaurant did however have whale steak on the menu, so that was one we could tick off. The meat looks just like the steak we are all used to but is a very deep red which is more like game meats like venison. It is very tender and very tasty, and not a bit fishy in taste. To make us feel less guilty about eating whale, apparently Iceland only catches non-endangered and plentiful species.
The shopping precinct in the city centre is quite delightful, full of lovely design shops as well as the usual tourist emporia. The city also has a couple of big shopping malls and it will come as no surprise to you to learn that the Kringlan Centre is indistinguishable from any other mall anywhere in the world.