Reykjavik took me by surprise. What a beautiful, warm city. Everyone is incredibly nice. Seriously. Case in point: We woke up around 7 a.m. to meet with our excursion group and we wanted a cup of coffee, but nothing was open. Everything opens around 10 a.m. or later in Iceland. As we walked around, a lady outside of a small market said hi to us and asked if we needed help as we looked lost, but we just said we were okay that we just needed coffee. She said to come into her market and she would make us coffee even though she wasn't open. And she did! That's Iceland in a nutshell.
We stayed in an Airbnb right next to Hallgrímskirkja and walking distance to the city center. Let's just say, we ate and drank a lot since it was just a 10-minute walk. Food is not very expensive, if you know where to go. Drinking is a lot more expensive (like, exorbitantly expensive) so we just drank a few times. If you do want to drink, I suggest buying beer and liquor at the airport duty-free before you exit so you don't get hit with that crazy Scandinavian alcohol tax. Here are a few recommendations on where to eat and drink when you're in the city.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - The famous hot dog stand. It's so delicious even Bill Clinton travels there just to have one. We got two hot dogs each and a drink. Each hot dog is about $3. Get it with everything, it's worth it! Bring cash as it's faster. It's a good stop while you're exploring the city.
Eldsmiojan (Pizza!) - We got dinner here the night after we returned to the city. We got a medium pizza and cokes for about $22. Sometimes, you just need a slice of pizza, you know? The restaurant has three very tiny floors so there's plenty of sitting and the atmosphere is really chill.
The Laundromat Cafe - We visited the Laundromat Cafe after our road trip around the island since, well, everything we owned was covered in mud. The basement has a few washers and dryers, for an affordable price. They have seats downstairs so you can wait for your laundry and still get service. We grabbed some coffee and used the time to catch up on e-mails and social media. The service is great and so it's the food. The upstairs looks like a library. So gorgeous.
Noodle Station - Noodle Station is awesome, especially on rainy days. They only have a couple of options, basically meat or vegetarian noodle soup. It's so good and cheap. It reminded me of Atlanta's Buford Hwy. They are quick too, so if you see a line out the door, don't get discouraged.
Fiskmarkaourinn | Fish Market - The one goal we had before we arrived was to eat seafood in Iceland. Iceland is famous for its seafood so we splurged on a meal at the Fish Market. I recommend making a reservation as it gets packed. Their service is out of this world amazing and the food just get better with every entree.
*FAVORITE* Vitabar - Vitabar is my favorite place in Iceland. Our Airbnb hosts recommended it as it was only a block from their place. It's a couple of blocks behind the church, at the corner of Vitastígur and Bergþórugata and it's beyond worth it. It's a tiny dive bar with the best blue cheese garlic-infused burger EVER. I still dream about it. It was the first time I've ever beat Alex at eating a burger. I mean, I don't even have a picture of it! (Here's one) It's a favorite among the Iceland residents as well. Stop by!
Eldur & Is - Delicious gelato and crepes right in the city centre. Get two scoops of ice cream in hot chocolate or espresso. SO good. Great place to grab coffee as well. Also, they have wi-fi, in case you need to check your Instagram.
**and if you want to grocery shop and cook at your place, head to Bonus. It's the cheap grocery store in Iceland. We cooked a delicious dinner on our road trip with food from there as well as stocked up on snacks and other things.
Cafe Babalu - Single-handedly the cutest cafe in all of Iceland. The bathroom is Star Wars-themed (be still my heart!) and the exterior is covered in murals and vibrant colors. It's a neat place to unwind after a day of sightseeing and catch up on work.
12 TonarRecord Store - Record shopping with a side of espresso? Yes, please. The staff will make you espresso while you peruse the store. My favorite was listening to new CDs on old school CD players in the back.
Kaffi Mokka - Reykjavik's oldest coffee shop is a great stop for local coffee with a great selection of sandwiches and waffles. The crowd is a good mix of tourists and local artists so it's fun place to people watch and grab a cup of coffee during the day.
If you're big into beer, Kaldi Bar is awesome for micro brews and MicroBar has a handful of drafts dedicated to local breweries.
Lebowski Bar - Named after the one and only, it's a great place to grab a brew or peanut butter milkshake. You can get a full meal (burger, fries and drink) for about $16. The atmosphere is lively and a great place to mingle with younger locals.
Have you been to Reykjavik? What's the first thing you would eat there?
These pictures were taken on September 2014.
While most people complain about touristy attractions, I'm a big believer that you should try everything once. You never know, you just might love it. Case in point: The Blue Lagoon. Blog post after blog post during my planning sessions told us to skip it. Reasons? Well, it's too overpriced, too boring, too crowded, the list goes on. But there's something iconic about the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Whether it was the gorgeous pictures on Pinterest or just the word of mouth about how beautiful the water was, we just knew we wanted to go and soak in its expensive, man-made waters at least once.
Well, no regrets here. Yes, it's overpriced. We got the Standard Package (50 euros) and it included an algae face mask, one drink, a towel/robe and skin care pack. But not too crowded, the pool area is big and they have enough changing rooms, lockers, etc. to accommodate a huge crowd. We bought our tickets ahead of time as part of our airport shuttle, Reykjavik Excursions.The grounds also have an area where you can store your luggage for cheap.
We arrived at the airport, stressed out to the max from almost not being able to come back to Iceland from Amsterdam because of the infamous volcano, so we made this our first stop. Best decision ever. It was relaxing and a really unique experience. The staff was so friendly! The milky blue water made my skin feel amazing (my hair, not so much. Bring conditioner!) and the landscape around the pool area made us feel like we were on the moon. It's worth it! Stop by when you're in Iceland, to or from the airport. It's a little splurge that will make you feel like a million bucks. Once we were done, we jumped on the next FlyBus to Reykjavik (about 35 minutes) and our Airbnb hosts picked us up from the bus station. The perfect start to our trip.
So what do you think? Would you visit the Blue Lagoon?
These photos were taken on September 2014.
Happy New Year! I wanted to start the year off with a few photos from my San Francisco trip over Christmas break. We had sunny weather, perfect temperatures (hello 60's!) and not a lot of tourists. Amazing, right? My mom and I just wandered around the city, people watched and ate everything in sight. We stayed near Chinatown at the Hotel Triton. The staff was so friendly! They had hot apple cider available at all times.
These pictures were taken on December 2014.