As you all know from last week, I love Iceland. It is one of the most beautiful countries. And every day Conde Naste and Travel and Leisure send me articles about beautiful places in the world and Iceland seems to always make the list.
I’ve recently come home from an 8 night journey in Iceland and I must say, I am going back soon. I mainly stayed within Reykjavik, and there is so much more to see. But due to some storms I didn’t get out as much as I would have liked, hence needing a trip back.
Monday, November 23, 2015/Tuesday, November 24, 2015
I took an overnight flight and landed at about 5 in the morning (Tuesday, November 24, 2015) local time, midnight my home time. With the flight being 4 hours and 14 minutes from Boston there wasn’t much time for sleep, let alone once you subtract the take off and landing time. I did however have an entire aisle to myself, so for those 3 hours where I was able to lay out I most definitely did.
I didn’t book a room for that day, so I was forced to stay up until at least 14:00 when I could check in. (I ended up doing much better and staying up until almost 2 AM!)
I opted to watch the sun rise from The Sun Voyager. I was staying about a block and a half from the Harbor so I dropped my bags off, added on some extra layers for warmth in the bathroom, and made sure my phone and camera were fully charged before heading out.
Later in the afternoon I went up to Hallgrimskirkja Church. It appeared that there may have been a funeral of sorts going on, and so I did not go inside. I regret not going back to make such a visit.
There’s supposedly a sculpture garden behind the church, I myself couldn’t find it. If you do, please let me know so on another trip I can check it out.
That evening I met a girl from DC and it was her last night in Reykjavik. Even though it was a Tuesday she wanted to go out one last time and I myself wanted to see the Reykjavik nightlife options so I’d be ready for the weekend. Note that the Travel Channel did an article about the night life in Reykjavik that I wish I had seen before just now. (I do a lot of research before trips and during trips, and somehow missed this one.) Read this article and consider yourself warned by it and me, who experienced it first hand over the weekend nights, the pushing and shoving can be a lot to handle to smaller stature people like myself.
We made our way in and out of many of the bars and restaurants to see what was out there.
- Chuck Norris Grill
- Dillon Whisky Bar
- The English Pub
- American Bar
- Lebowski Bar
It was only a Tuesday but I was already beginning to get a sense of the scene. Whisky lovers check out Dillon and beer lovers check out Microbar. Kaffibarinn and Dillon had at atmosphere that I could find myself in (as a local) at any point really through a week. American Bar and The English Pub are both sports bars, they seem like big spots for the tourists, or locals that want to pick up tourists. Lebowski has trivia nights but other wise if your a fan of the movie, it’s worth it to check out for that alone, the same with Chuck Norris and his fans. Bravo has a step going up right after entering the door way, do not miss this or you will end up on the floor like I did.
From MircoBar (the edge of downtown) to where I was staying it was all of a 4 minute walk so I was easily home once the bars closed at 1 AM.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I awoke at 12:50 PM. I missed half of daylight. I obviously needed the sleep but the days get significantly shorter very quickly through November and December. On Tuesday when I arrived sunrise was at 10:24 and sunset at 16:04. On Wednesday it was 10:27 and 16:01, already 6 minutes less than the day before. And by the time I left on December 2 (9 days later) sunrise was at 10:48 and sunset was at 15:46. A full 42 min loss of daylight from the day I arrive. So know that if you’re not up during midnight in the winter, you’re most likely going to miss daytime. If you’re curious about the sunrise sunset times check out this cool site.
I signed up for a Northern Lights Tour. There are a lot of companies out there and it’s all with the experience you want to have with it. I myself ended up going with Grayline. Unfortunately, due to weather my tour was canceled, and so I re-scheduled for Thursday.
By the time I got dressed and out the door it was late. I chose to spend the rest of the afternoon at the National Museum of Iceland.
A lot of times I don’t spend a lot of time actually inside of museums while I am away. I’m more of a get out and just see the city and meet people. But I don’t know a lot about Iceland and so I thought it would be good to do some learning. I had 2 hours and 45 minutes until the museum closed for the day. I only go through 1 room of the museum. I read every plaque, read every book, and watched every widow. I was completely engrossed in everything I was learning. Here’s a couple facts for you folks:
- Vikings did not wear horns on their helmets.
- Vikings who became the Icelandic people were mainly peaceful people who fished and farmed.
- Iceland was pagan, than Christian, before turning to Lutheran which they mainly are still today.
- Iceland may have been partially settled by people from Ireland and Scotland.
There’s still much I did not see or learn yet and would love to go back and continue soaking up the knowledge of the people.
That evening I met a couple girls from New Jersey who were going out that night and I decided to join them. Though it was a Wednesday night and bars still closed at 1:00 be decided not to head out until 23:00.
We met up at a bar called Boston Bar (I’m really not sure what’s with all these names, Boston Bar, American Bar, English Pub, etc.). It was another quiet night out as it was late on a week night and the last week of the month. I learned in Iceland most people get paid once a month at the end of the month and so to make that extra spending money stretch through the end of the month can be difficult for some of the people.
Thursday, November 26, 2015
I awoke and took a 45 minute walk to The Perlan. I walk much more when I am in other cities. I love seeing the city by foot, really getting out there and covering the ground in a way you can’t in public transportation.
I was a brisk walk away from downtown Reykjavik and I enjoyed the fresh air. The Perlan is actually where there had been hot water storage tanks for years. They asked the dome, put in a panoramic viewing platform (that’s free!) to look out at Reykjavik and an award winning restaurant.
It was a somewhat cloudy day, but for the first time I was able to see some patches of blue sky during my walk back home. I decided to walk along the pond and then the Harbor to catch the blue sky glinting off the water.
I came back to my room to rest for a bit. That afternoon I decided to go to the National Gallery of Iceland where there was an exhibit on NÍNA TRYGGVADÓTTIR (until Jan 3, 2016) and one on NÍNA SÆMUNDSSON (until Mar 1, 2016). I myself am not much of a fan of abstract art. Okay, that’s a lie, I don’t like it at all. I do appreciate a woman who can build an artistic career on just her own merits as they both have done. Nina Tryggvadottir’s earlier works (before the abstract) interested me a lot and I found Nina Saemundsson’s sculptures to be remarkable.
I have a mainly (at the time) FB friend that I met June of 2014 very briefly outside a venue in Brooklyn, NY. We became FB friends and kept in touch online but he lives in Reykjavik and so when I was coming over I thought it would be nice to meet up. We had plans to meet that evening. He came with a good friend of his who was kind enough to drive us around to various sites in Reykjavik as we made our way to the pool. Some of the sites included the building where Reagan and Gorbachev met back in 1986 and the The John Lennon Imagine Peace Tower.
City pools are a huge thing in Iceland. What gets me is that they are mainly outdoors. I was skeptical at first. But then I got in and my opinion changed. Never fret if you didn’t think of packing a bathing suit (but with a lot of people coming over to go to The Blue Lagoon, really? you didn’t bring a suit?) as you can rent both bathing suits and towels right there. The pool we went to was Arbaejarlaug (Don’t ask me how to pronounce it, I think I finally got Reykjavik down!) There are varying degrees in temperatures through the pools, a water slide, and massaging jets. It began to snow while we were there and it was actually a really surreal feeling to have the snow coming down around me as I was toasty warm submerged in water. Also they had hair dryers there! As a lady with some rather longish locks and cold temperatures it was nice to know once I got out of the pool and showered I could dry my hair and be on my way.
Iceland has 2 malls. In the entire country. 2 malls, Kringlan and Smaralind. Where I grew up I had 3 within 30 minutes of me. There’s well over 10 malls in the state of Connecticut alone. Kringlan is within the city of Reykjavik. I have now been to half of the malls in Iceland.
For dinner we stopped by Hlöllabátar in the mall. It is listed as a fast food restaurant, and I know I haven’t had fast food since sometime in 2014. (Not that I ate it regularly, but I decided to completely cut it from my diet.) I’d consider Hlöllabátar more of quick service place like a Subway or a DeAngelo’s sub shop back in the states. I had lamb it was yummy.
From there we headed back to downtown Reykjavik where we went to BarAnanas. I had passed by it the other day and noticed a tiki bar inside and thought it looked fun so when it was brought up at the destination that was next I couldn’t have been happier. It has a kitschy decor of some far away tropical land. I liked it.
At this time it was time for us to split up as it was getting late and the two had work the next day. I myself headed to The Dubliner for a drink on my way to bed. It was Thursday, it was midnight, it was dead. It’s a dive bar, and I have no problem with the diveiest of bars when back home, so I’m sure if I was a local I’d pop in every once in awhile for a pint. But on holiday, it would not be my first choice.
To be continued next week! 🙂