Tag Archives: architecture

Day 6 – Reykjavík

We woke up to a snow-covered Reykjavík, probably an inch thick. We took a good look around the city today.

The sight for me was Hallgrímskirkja, a church built over a long period of time, starting in the late 1930s with decades of building thereafter. It’s a mix of Scandinavian and neo-Gothic. A simple, bleak take on Gothic, resulting in a spooky-looking church. Inside was stunning. Gothic arches, an impressive organ. Blue windows at the alter, which, with the light shining in, gives a hue of cold and bleak fitting in nicely in the Reykjavík landscape. Outside in the shadow of Hallgrímskirkja stood Leif Eriksson, discoverer of North America. In the distance is another church, Háteigskirkja. Alpine-inspired with long spires, black on white masonry work. It stood beautifully and modestly in a complimenting snowy scene.

We walked back down Laugavegur, Reykjavík’s high street. At the end towards Háteigskirkja, it’s not the prettiest of places. As you progress towards the centre it gets prettier. We went to the Parliament (Althing), which is a very inconspicuous building. It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago outside this building, a large gathering took place and brought about a ‘revolution’. This side of town is lovely.

For lunch we went to Akku Taktu, a bit like McDonalds meets Little Chef. I had a hot dog and some really nice chips, which had a similar coating to ‘chip spice’ which you find in the north of England. For dinner we went to Le Bistro, a French restaurant. Cute and cuddly in side, barely any light. I had a Lamb shank, French style, and some Viking ale. The cost of this meal, comparable to something in the UK, was twice the price.

Day 35 – Vancouver

I thoroughly enjoyed today. It was raining in the morning but I was determined to do the Downtown tour. It was just me, the previous guide, a German bloke and an elderly lady from Ottawa.

Today’s tour was downtown architecture, old and new. Unbelievably, the first building was some shitty ‘modern’ 70s building that had replaced a neo-classical courts building. That kind of behaviour should be illegal! Fancy Vancouver doing something like that when their oldest buildings are no older than 150 years!

There are plenty of lovely, overwhelming neo-classical and neo-roman buildings with huge columns that I’ve walked past before and not realised were there.

The church down the road from me is a gothic revival, built late 19th Century. Apparently it was very close to being knocked down some time ago… seriously?!

It was more chilled this time around as we were talking amongst ourselves. The German chap was suddenly wearing these small, thick round frame glasses that cover just the eyeball. Very typical of a European. He mentioned the war as well, to which I said “don’t mention the war” as Basil Fawlty said, but no one seemed to get it. I then mentioned how I used to live in Plymouth and how the Germans flattened what was a beautiful city…

Anyway, after the tour, I headed out at dusk to Stanley Park to take some pics of the skyline. Something I’d been putting off out of laziness but I’m really glad I did it. I took loads of photos as the lights came on and the sun set. It’s a long walk so it quickly became night time.

What a great atmosphere there at night. At 9pm, there’s a cannon which fires a gun salute (I think it was donated by George III could be wrong though). Loud as hell – echoed through the blocks of downtown Vancouver. As it fired, a load of people cheered, proud of their city.

As I walked down the sea wall snapping away, the hairs on my neck raised reminding me how beautiful this city is. Two locals then pulled up on their mopeds, watched the city for a short while, and proclaimed it “the best place on Earth”.

As I walked back along the sea wall, I thought how lucky Vancouverites are. I walked past a couple, dangling their legs over the wall, having a bit of a cuddle. Which made me think how I’d love Chloe to be sharing this view of this incredible city with me…

Loved tonight. One of my best nights of the trip. Sometimes the simplest of moments are the most beautiful.

Day 33 – Vancouver

The no-show of the AIBC tour guide filled me with little confidence, but I really wanted to visit parts of Vancouver with a narrative, from an architect perspective.

AIBC do a number of tours but I particularly wanted to visit Chinatown and Downtown. Chinatown was really interesting. Plenty of buildings from late 19th Century and early 20th Century. Some revived, some in despair. I saw the world’s thinnest building at under 5ft, the Sam Kee Building. Vancouver’s oldest buildings seem to be of neo-classical, particularly the banks. One Chinese building which caught my attention was one which had a door going to nowhere on the second storey, I presume to dodge tax.

Interestingly, there’s a lot of pre-Communist Party Chinese influence here. I’m sure I heard that some of the dynasty overthrow was planned here. There are buildings here which serve to represent the Republic of China (Taiwan), not so much the PRC. I had the correct the tour guide on that one… ouch!