Iceland, Day 1: Reykjavik

Spent 9 days in Iceland and I’m still relying on Autocorrect to spell Reykjavik properly.

After a rather frustrating flight experience, we had our first meal.

Where we ate, BreakfastBergusson mathus

better 26 hours late than never! Iceland what's gooddddd

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  • Best homemade bread
  • Best soft boiled egg
  • Best yogurt (skyr)

Best everything. This was only the beginning of discovering that Iceland has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.

If you’ve read the Lonely Planet tour guide for Iceland, you’ll find we went to a lot of places listed in it. This breakfast spot was filled with half Icelandic locals and half tourists with the exact same tour book.

The WOW Air direct flights to Reyjkavik land at 5am, so many tourists are typically stranded without a hotel to check into. With the early arrival time and convenient location, most visitors spend the day at Blue Lagoon fresh off the plane since they it’s only 15 minutes away from the airport. This was our original plan but we decided to delay it after our flight mishap.

Reykjavik is not a very large town at all, so within a few minutes we had walked to the busy shopping street, Laugavegur. Immediately, you pass all the shops and popular bars (Lebowski Bar) I read about during research.

Where we stayed: Kerno Apartments

We never stayed at a traditional hotel in Iceland because they can be pretty expensive. Fortunately, there’s a heavily used hostel and guest house culture for travelers. We stayed in a small but nice 1 bedroom with patio. It was slightly away from the city center but easily accessible with a car, which we rented for our road trip.

Jet lag was is always real, so we took a nap straightaway.

Where we ate, Dinner: Snaps

Snaps served French cuisine with Icelandic seafood specialties. The setting was truly unique: traditional French brasserie interior but located within a greenhouse. The place was buzzing with people. Luckily, I was able to make a reservation via email just a few hours before and they accommodated us quickly.

After dinner, we took another walk through the city because when it doesn’t get dark – anything is possible.

img_0162One of the most talked about attraction, besides the Harpa concert hall, is this modern church: Hallgrimskirkja (I think I spelled that right)

This church is often called the North Star of the city and it’s true, you can always find the church architecture in the skyline. Inside, there are huge organ pipes; concerts are held for the public occasionally. No stain glass windows or any sign of old cathedrals here as it was not completed until 1986.

Where we snacked: Ísbúð Vesturbæjar

img_0167

When on vacation, eating dessert becomes moral code. This spot was interesting because it was not the one listed in our tour book, but rather recommended by the front desk lady where we stayed. It was a 2 minute drive from Kerno Apartments so just outside the city center. If we had stayed in the city center, we would not have ventured this far to get ice cream but the stars were aligned for us.

This place was definitely popular, particularly among locals. The staff at Isbud barely spoke English and the line was always full of Icelandic youths. This was our first visit of three (?) and it was our introduction to the “Iceland McFlurry” which is essentially how they eat ice cream always. It’s not the traditional icy/hard ice cream that we eat in the states, but more like a soft serve that is DIVINE. I’ll talk about the best I ever had later, since it was in a different city, but the traditional method is to take soft serve, select a few candies to mix-in, and voila!

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing what a long day we had because we took Nap #2 after ice cream before waking up at midnight for NBA FINALS GAME 7. And that’s pretty much all I want to say about that.

Overall, Reykjavik is a small, walkable and quaint city that reminds me of a cross of all Scandinavian cities with a Lucerne vibe when you get close to the water. This all makes sense as Iceland used to be Norwegian territory. I didn’t get to experience nightlife here but there is no shortage of bars! Alcohol is expensive but happy hour is where it’s at, with discounted prices that make drinking more palpable. Can you imagine stumbling out of a bar at 2am when it’s still light out?

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