My step-dad flew out from Alaska for a visit this month, and we were super excited about it! I’d only seen him once in the last few years, and that was to bring him my mother’s ashes. So that was incredibly sad, and I was happy to replace that with a fresh visit and be able to show him a bit of our life overseas. And A got to meet his Grandpa D for the first time!

We did a few of the usual tourist things…Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. But happily he’s a museum fan, so we also did some things that were on my bucket list, but I hadn’t gotten around to…like the National Museum of Iceland, the Maritime Museum and the Árbær Open Air Museum. And we caught a showing at Harpa of Icelandic Sagas – The Greatest Hits in 75 minutes, which was a lot of fun.

The two-person cast of the Icelandic Sagas with "the script" in a pile in the background.

The two-person cast of the Icelandic Sagas with “the script” in a pile in the background.

The National Museum was really interesting, and they have a great collection of Viking artifacts. But they also have a lot of neat items from a period that I never think about here…Medieval Iceland. From 1400-1600 Iceland was ruled by Denmark, and even though it was quite remote, it was part of the Reformation and was devastated by the Black Plague. They have some beautiful medieval art as well as the first printed translation of the Bible into Icelandic.


Medieval painting.


First printed Bible translated into Icelandic.

The Maritime Museum on the other wasn’t quite as exciting. It’s more of a museum dedicated to the fishing industry. If you pay extra (or separately) you can get a tour of the Coast Guard ship Óðinn, which is a decommissioned offshore patrol vessel.

Slightly more interesting is the Árbær Open Air Museum. To quote their website, “Árbaer is an open air museum with more than 20 buildings which form a town square, a village and a farm. Most of the buildings have been relocated from central Reykjavik.” They’re open from 10-5 every day during the summer. But in the winter they only open at 1:00 for a guided tour.

Farm church.

Farm church.

Interior of 1800s building.

Interior of 1800s-style building…Suðurgata 7.


More of Suðurgata 7.

I usually prefer to explore on my own, but this time I didn’t mind trailing around in a little group and getting a few extra stories. I particularly enjoyed seeing the traditional homes with the sod roofs, but it was equally insightful seeing the other homes decorated as they would have been through various periods of Icelandic history. One of the buildings had been designed in the 1800s and felt very much like being on the set of Anne of Green Gables. I guess the Georgian and Victorian eras looked fairly similar the world over.

For our last adventure, my step-dad is a member of the Rotary Club in the States, so he tracked down a local meeting of Rotary International, and we joined them for a nice lunch in a restaurant on top of the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel. It had a great view. I’ll have to check that place out again.

All too soon it was time for him to head back to Alaska. But it was so great to have him here and to get a chance to get out and see some new bits of Reykjavik together.