Daytrip to Viðey

Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful mild day, a perfect Sunday to spend outdoors and exploring a little. One of the outings on Mark and I’s ever-expanding to-do list was to take the ferry to the island of Viðey, which is about seven minutes by boat from Reykjavík.

Although it is a very small island (roughly 1 square miles), Viðey actually has a fair amount of attractions–certainly enough for an afternoon or two. The island was the site of Iceland’s first monastery. Later, following the monks’ expulsion at the hands of the Danish crown, it came into the possession of Skúli Magnússon, the then-Royal Treasurer who is now known as “The Father of Reykjavík” because of his initiative to bring modern industry to Iceland with the establishment of wool workshops and factories in the capitol. In more recent years, Viðey has become the home of Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace Tower, a light memorial to John Lennon which is lit and projected from its white stone well on the island’s coast from Lennon’s birth day (October 9) until the day of his death (December 8). Additionally, Viðey is the site of monumental sculptor Richard Serra’s work Áfgangar, or Milestones, which is comprised of nine pairs of basalt pillars which frame the landscape of Viðey’s westernmost end. I wasn’t all that thrilled by the prospect of the peace tower, honestly (especially since it wasn’t going to be lit), but some of my most profound aesthetic experiences have occurred while I was Being-in-Art, standing inside the curve of one of Richard Serra’s gigantic undulating sheet metal installations. (This one! This one!) (This one, too!) So being able to see a Serra installation in Iceland was definitely something I wanted to do.

Mark and I got to the ferry terminal about 45 minutes before it left. The tiny office, staffed only by the two people who crew the ferry back and forth to Viðey, was locked when we arrived, so we sat by the pier and enjoyed the sunshine and view until the boat returned. We spent a few hours on Viðey, walking around the western end and then taking a break for french fries and beer in the restaurant, which, it bears noting, is the oldest stone house in Iceland and was designed by Niels Eigtved, the architect who designed Denmark´s Amalienborg Palace. We left the other side of the island–with the sites of the original settlement, Skúli Magnússon’s doomed tobacco crops, and a schoolhouse–for our next visit.

I obviously took a kazillion photos, so enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Daytrip to Viðey

    • I thought he was great, too! I wondered what kind of fish you could actually catch there, but there seemed to be several people fishing there, so whatever there was, the fishing was apparently good…

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