The truth is, Reykjavik is very different from all those stunning capitals around Europe. It is not impressive, not shiny, not really remarkable. Yet, I truly love spending time in this city and every time I am here, I feel instantly as a true local. The city promotes the beauty of simplicity and although many say there's nothing much to like about it, I find myself admiring its simpleness, the way it's planned and how it respects its inhabitants. Besides, at odds with its size, Reykjavik actually is a fun city, with great cultural offer. When it comes to spending time outdoors, there are a few places I recommend in Reykjavik, and Tjornin ("the Pond"), a lovely lake in the middle of the city, and the favourite recreational spot of the locals, is definitely the first one on everyone's must-see list.
This shallow lake is in the downtown Reykjavik and it's actually the place where urban development of the city started. Today, the lake is surrounded by the buildings of important institutions, such as the City Hall, the National Gallery, the Althingi Parliament house, the Office of the President of Iceland, the US embassy, and so on. Nevertheless, you can walk freely around the lake. Although in the city center, the place is peaceful and calm, there's a park on the south side of it and the bridging road that brakes the lake into two sections. One of the most recognisable buildings around the lake is "Fríkirkjan í Reykjavík" ("The Free Church of Reykjavík"), with its green roof.
However, the best about this lake are dozens of its inhabitants, different kinds of birds including ducks, swans, geese, and seagulls. It is said that forty different bird species live here! One hundred years ago people were still coming here to hunt, but nowadays, families come to feed the birds. This is actually such a popular pastime that locals call Tjornin "stærsta brauðsúpa í heimi” which in Icelandic means "the biggest bread soup in the world". Around the lake there are also several sculptural pieces to check out.
During the winter months, Tjornin is, obviously, mainly frozen, so it becomes a perfect spot for iceskating, just walking on the ice or even playing football. It's quite safe, as the average depth of the lake is only around 60cm. Alternatively, you can stay out of the ice and walk around the lake. Making a full circle around this lovely lake in Reykjavik takes around 45 minutes.
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