The Land of Fire & Ice
On a whim a few months ago, my roommate Kait and I decided to book a trip to Iceland on a recommendation from my former roommate Ben. We went with an Iceland Air package which was wonderful. I’m not sure if I would do an entire package again now that I know the city but having it all planned out for us was a relief. SO for the small price of $787 we booked ourselves a four day, three-night vacation with a glacier walk/northern lights tour and dinner that included the airfare and hotel (yes, hotel. not hostel)
We took off the JFK tarmac at just about 8 PM Thursday night and landed disoriented five hours later in Reykjavik at 6:45 AM ET. After a short fly bus (we booked ahead of time, thanks, Kait!), we rolled up to our hotel. Thankfully our room was ready so we were able to get going after a quick 30-minute nap. Here are a few snaps of the hotel. [BIG DISCLAIMER: there was only sunlight from 10 AM to 4 PM due to the time frame we chose to visit in, we’re told you should see Iceland once in the winter and once in the summer, we weren’t dissapointed]
- Arriving at the hotel *sleep*
At this time I’d like to point out that Icelandic people drill for hot water the way we drill for oil so basically everything is heated by hot water. Electricity and hot water were both abundant and amazing quality. If you get the chance to go feel free to drink water from practically anywhere, volcano ash cleans the water running off from glaciers so there are absolutely no chemicals added in to make water there “drinkable”.
After our nap, we grabbed some free bus tickets *thanks, Natura! and took the 5 min bus to the city center. We walked crosstown as I insisted on going to a BONUS Supermarket. BONUS, if you’re not familiar, is the cheapest, greatest store there is, the mascot is (in my opinion) a drunken pig.
The supermarket sweep…
At this time I’d like to point out that Skyr is everywhere, while it tastes like yogurt it is actually cheese. It can be sweet with berries or sugar like this OR it can be savory like a garlic or tarragon mayonnaise Skyr. It is also finally being exported to the states – watch out Greek yogurt.
After that trip we headed to Saegriffin – home of delicious, delicious food. We walked along the harbor to grab our lunch. It was windy and cold by the water but so worth the view of the mountains.
Here is my essential guide to ordering at Saegriffin. First, you must get the lobster bisque – it has huge chunks of melt in your mouth lobster. Second, partner it in the 2,200 krona deal where you also get a skewer. The way things work in this restaurant is that you pick your raw fishy meat and warm up with your lobster bisque while they grill it up. Being all too familiar with Korean BBQ, I was right at home. This was one of our favorite meals in Reykjavik.
The lunch stop…
After lunch we took some pictures by the docks before we started our trek to the church.
The church adventure…
We walked back up the main street to Hallgrímskirkja – a Lutheran church with spectacular views at the top. While there are some pockets of Catholics, the majority of Icelanders are Lutheran.
Once at the top we made two New York friends when they overheard us complaining as New Yorkers would. Well, me complaining mostly as I would about how we’re going to get our bang for our $4.80 elevator ride as I snapped a good fifty pictures. Eric and Tommy turned into our trip friends but as we were tired that night and basically bailed on them the next, you will see them pop up in our photos in the third post.
Either way, they joined us for a coffee at Kaffitar and then Kait and I headed to Sandholt Bakery for a giant chocolate covered swirl bun and another dessert that was most similar to a “palmier” or “elephant’s ears” as they are called stateside.
And finally, dessert…
After all that adventure, we headed back to our hotel for a rest and then went to a public bath for $3 (yes this was actually cheap but no pictures) where we went up to the roof – ran through the freezing cold in our bathing suits and sank into unbelievable hot pots aka hot tubs.
We grabbed dinner at Icelandic Fish & Chips. The food was great, cozy atmosphere and perfectly battered cod with roasted garlic potatoes and some local Icelandic Christmas beer.