Pack Your Bags: Reykjavic, Iceland


I know, I know...
those pictures from Iceland
made you want to throw on eight layers of clothes,
pull out your fuzziest boots,
and book a ticket east to Iceland.

I mean, it even made me want to go...
and I had just got back like the night before.

It's understandable.

The place is crazy gorgeous.




There are tons of places to visit outside the capital city, Reykjavic,
but it's inevitable to become the main hub for most trips to Iceland.





Unless you're some hardcore mountain climber or deep-sea fisherman,
which, no offense, I'm not sure that any of us are.

SLEEP:

We stayed at the Hotel Odinsve.

It's not crazy expensive in Icelandic prices,
it's really well located right off the main drag 
and near the famous Lutheran church,  Hallgrimskirkja.

The hotel has really nice staff,
and for larger groups- offers some swankily-outfitted apartments.


DO:

In my opinion, I think the best part of Iceland is outside the capitol.
Iceland s beauty is in the waterfalls, the hiking, the hot springs...
and so this list is a little shorter than most other city guides.





I mean, the country may have thousands of years of history...
but Reykjavic is a bit too small & new to offer cultural competition
 for cities like Paris & Rome.

I'll be posting a full list of the places outside the city,
but for now, ladies and gents, my favorites from Reykjavic.





This famous church has become an icon for this city
since it's recent completion in 1986.




Designed to look like the distinct basalt rocks 
found so often around Iceland,
this Lutheran church is a warm and welcoming sight
for tourists wandering around Reykjavic.

Say hi to the famous explorer Leif Eriksson on your way in,





Learn about the famous Icelandic Sagas at this museum 
locatedon the outskirts of town 
 at the modern building called "The Pearl..."
You'll probably have to take a taxi to get to.

After you work your way through the gory stories
that have become so legendary in Icelandic folklore
{some of which seem very cool and some which seem a bit outlandish}
make it up to the top floor to the cafe and panoramic deck.




Go for a walk around the outer viewing platform for amazing views of Reykjavic,
take silly pictures of yourself in the reflective mirror...
and then head inside to the cafe for a cup of coffee to warm back up.

(To be fair, this museum is better for the literary nerds than random tourists.)






EAT:

Beyond the rainbows & glaciers,
the main surprise I discovered here
was how good the food in Reykjavic...

You won't go hungry here,
though you may go broke from the exchange rate.

Tucking in and out of good eateries
is the perfect activity while wandering through
this chilly little town.



Right across the street from Hotel Odinsve,
there is the cutest coffee shop
with some of the best food in the world.



Ok, perhaps I'm slightly exaggerating there, 
but I'm not lying when I say their coconut cake can not be topped.

It's inexplicable...
and totally acceptable as a breakfast food.



The oldest coffee shop in Iceland
has a quiet mellow vibe
and some delicious coffee.

Go feel like an Icelandic hipster
and hang out there with a tatty paperback for a few hours.



If fish & puffin start feeling a little heavy on your stomach,
and you need some good old grease to get you back in business:

Go to the Roadhouse.

It's a 5-10 minute walk from the main street in town
and has some crazy burger concoctions,
like the one I got...
a burger topped with macaroni & cheese and bacon.




I don't regret anything about that experience,
except that I could only stomach half of it.

Next time.

And they have really good milkshakes.

The peanut butter one almost made me meow.




Ok, so you've made it all the way to Iceland.

{Well done.}

It's time to get crazy and eat some crazy Icelandic cuisine.

This tiny place is a favorite of Chef Jamie Oliver
and when you look at the menu, 
you'll know why.

Shark sashimi?
Whale steak?
Puffin tarts?
Reindeer medallions?
Horse tenderloin?


The whale steak at Prir Frakkar. Not for the small-stomached.

Oh my goodness. 
It's not just kitschy,
but it's also really good!

I'd make a reservation 
or plan on going before 7pm.

The small space will fill up with locals 
and well-guided tourists soon thereafter.




Located down on the water by the docks & whale-watching boats
sits the humble little restaurant, Seabarons.




The no-frills restaurant offers a short menu
of freshly caught kebabs
(that you literally choose out of the fridge & they cook)
or their legendary Lobster Soup.

The soup comes with, approximately, 500 slices of bread & butter...
and the coffee in the dispenser is free.

Take your giant cup of chunky lobster soup and mug down!







On the Iceland Air flights,
they have an ad that plays on your personal tv
that says that the most popular restaurant in Reykjavic
is a hot dog stand.

After you find out where that is
and sit there for 20 minutes
while car after car pull into the tiny parking space
and dudes hop out to nosh down a dog,
you start to realize how true it is.




The Icelandic people love their hotdogs,
and they were, literally, the cheapest hot meal I saw the entire time.

It's a pretty routine formula:
bun, dog, raw onion, fried onion,
mustard, ketchup & some remoulade.

It is pretty tasty.

I only had one.

My husband on the other hand cleared a dozen during our time in Iceland.

It was somewhat impressive 
and completely disgusting all at the same time.


***

Now there are the facts as I know them
and now,  I need to know one thing from you:
 Who's going back to Reykjavic with me next fall?



*all images original to Aspiring Kennedy

Posted on October 25, 2012 and filed under "iceland", "reykjavic", "travel tips", "travel".