Iceland : Day 1 – Rejkavik

Iceland has been doing a very good job in advertising themselves, lately.  Practically everyone I know has gone there recently or will be going soon.  I got an overwhelming amount of people messaging me, asking for details about my trip and suggestions for theirs.  In the next few weeks, I’ll write about what I did and some notes on my recent trip to Iceland and how amazing it was.  Come, join me in remembering this beautiful country.

Let’s start straight at the airport.  I went to work early so that I didn’t get penalized for missing another vacation dimg_20160919_183223ay, so I could leave early.  We arrived at the airport around 4 p.m.  Trying to save as much money as we could, as most people know Europe is not cheap, we opted to go with WOW airlines for the first time.  I was a little skeptical because WOW is a new airline to Canada and didn’t get many good reviews from Europe.  To my surprise, the plane left on time and the service was great!  The flight attendants were very attentive and polite.

We arrived at 4 am in Iceland.  This is 4 hours ahead of Canadian Eastern Time, so we were all fairly awake still as it was only 12 am at home.  First stop, duty free.  Again, things are expensive in Iceland, especially alcohol.  We stocked up on Brennivin (I heard lots about it, not good or bad), a black licorice tasting liquor that is 35% alcohol, and headed to exchange money.  I like having the security of having cash on my at all times but my friends opted to get about $50 CAD so that they had some cash if required.  Every single place we went to, except the hot dog stands, had a credit card machine so if you don’t feel like you want to exchange money upfront, you are welcome to just use your credit card.

We caught the shuttle bus from the airport to Enterprise to pick up our rental car.  It was busy and the people seem to have just woken up and was working extremely slowly.  During that time I managed to pour coffee on myself.  It seemed like they had misplaced a lot of the cars as well and ended up giving us a free upgrade. Thank goodness for that!  If we had gotten the VW Golf, our luggage wouldn’t have fit into the back.  We were three ladies and one gentleman.  The gentleman brought a duffle bag.  The three ladies brought medium sized luggages.  I overpacked.

The international airport is at Keflavik, which is one hour away (without speeding and traffic) from Reykjavik.  It was rush hour.  I was tired and grumpy and just wanted to get somewhere to eat.  It took us about an hour and half to get to the city center where we parked on a side street so that we didn’t have to pay for parking.  We walked to what seemed to be the only open store: Sandhort bakeri.  Just the smell from outside is enough to draw you in.  To be fair, we could have been very hungry because WOW does not provide meals or drinks, but this prosciutto breakfast sandwich was divine.  Freshly baked bread, scrambled eggs and prosciutto with a little bit of spinach.  Accompanied with a coffee was about $12 CAD.

After inhaling our breakfast, we headed to the nearest 10-11 (grocery slash convenient store) to pick up a Icelandic SIM card.  We bought a $23 CAD option that gave us 1GB of data for a month.  You can top up whenever you want.  I used about half of that in the 7 days I was there.  That is, I used it a lot for chatting on Whatsapp and using it as a GPS.  Also, to answer hard hitting questions like “Why do sheep travel in threes?” and “Do horses sleep standing up?”  We picked up groceries and continued to walk the streets of Reykjavik.  We found, the. Best. Museum. Ever. (sarcasm included).  It was the phallic museum.  Penis shaped souvenirs including pasta, wooden structures and pictures.  Though, we deemed it unworthy of $15 CAD to actually go into the museum.  It was small and we thought there was almost nothing we wouldn’t know about male genitalia.

Most of the shops were open by the time we finished with 10-11.  We walked up and down the shopping street, Laugavegur, and then found a cute coffee shop to read and drink coffee.  The name of the shop? Nat.  The name of my bestie that was with me? Nat.  We found it amusing and went in for a whopping $5 CAD small coffee.  Fine, it came with a piece of chocolate and they let my other friends nap on their couch, but still.

When our air bnb was ready, we hopped back into our car and moved in.  We were, at first, impressed by the air bnb but then found sheets that had hair on them and flickering/dimming lights that didn’t work.  Note: hot water in Reykjavik, often heated by the power plant, will smell like eggs because of the sulfur in it.  It was gross, but we managed the first few days.  Nonetheless, we had nowhere else to stay so my sleepy head friends ended up taking a nap, while my bestie and I headed out to explore the streets.

Nat and I drove straight to the Sun Craft, a metallic structure shaped like the bone of a Viking ship, and took some pictures with it.  The weather was gray and it was pouring rain, so we didn’t stay too long.  We then drove to the city center to check out the photography museum.  Surprise, surprise, it was changing exhibits and therefore closed.  We took a few minutes to check out the shop and the creepy childrens’ pictures down the staircase as you exit.  We met a very cute little dog outside and then walked to the nearby city center area.

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Different from the area we were in, in the morning, we walked around and found a book store and two hot dog stands.  We scoped out some of the places we could potentially eat and then headed home when our pay stub for parking ran out.img_20160920_164022

img_20160920_192701For dinner, all four of us headed to Matur Og Drykkur (Food and Drink, in English).  This is a hipster style restaurant, attached to a viking museum.  Unfortunately, the museum was closed when we got there.  We were also lucky that we got a seat at the busy restaurant without a reservation.  You must try the fish in Iceland.  It’s fresh and it’s done well.  I had trout that was smoked and tasted like salmon.  I JUST realized that I had sheep’s dung on my food (because I just checked the menu again).  Either way, it was good. Dung or not, I’d recommend this dish.  My friend had the cod’s head which was a huge portion and seemed really good.  With wine, my meal came to about $70 CAD.  Pricey, but worth it.

Though we were so full from dinner, we headed to Baejarins Beztu Pylsur at the city center to have hot dog.  Apparently, this was the best hot dog in Iceland.  I beg to differ.  The only choice was lamb hot dogs.  I don’t like lamb.  There you go.  Clearly, unimpressed.

Walking around some more, we headed to the big cathedral in the center of the city called Hallgrimskirkja.  We took some pictures, but it was late and therefore closed.  From there, we took it as a sign to head home.

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