Iceland is Still Awesome

So, I’m on the night of my third day, and 15 years after my first visit here, the overriding theme remains the same- Iceland is awesome. I’m not going to write full blog posts (for me that means the long-winded 2,500 word pieces that became a staple of my post-New Zealand trip recaps)- those will come later. (I can hear you groaning ūüôā )
 
Instead, I’m going to work like crazy updating¬†my personal¬†and¬†blog Facebook pages,¬†Twitter, Instagram (esmith7273) and¬†Untappd.
I’ll also work on some short recap posts here- like this one covering my first two days here.

Day One-

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My very cute, very small, very fuel-efficient rental car

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Strokkur- Near the original ‘geysir’

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Gullfoss Waterfall

My original plan was to spend my first and last day in Reykjavik, with the second day exploring the Golden Circle and the third day driving around the¬†Snaefellsnes Peninsula. I had to change things around when I saw the weather forecast, since I wanted the two excursions to be on the nicer weather days, and I didn’t mind exploring Reykjavik in rain since I’d been there before. So, fresh off of less than a half hour’s sleep on the flight over, I got in my little rental car and jetted off to see The Golden Circle.

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Thingviller National Park

The day was windy and cold, but sunny with beautiful blue skies, a complete contrast to the rainy day I’d had when I’d done the Golden Circle via bus tour back in 1998. I was thrilled with the sites, especially the amazing waterfall Gullfoss, and Thingviller National Park, a UNESCO¬†Heritage¬†Site and the site of Iceland’s first government and the world’s first democracy.

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Pylsur- Icelandic Hot Dog

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R√°√įh√ļs (City Hall) on Tj√∂rnin pond

I made it to Reykjavik in the late afternoon, and after a short nap (couldn’t be helped), I headed out to wander around Reykjavik at night. Since the sun doesn’t set until after 9 PM, I still had plenty of time to wander, take pictures, and find something to eat. I settled on the pylsur, the totally addictive Icelandic hot dog.

Day Two-

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Hallgrimskirkja

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View toward the harbour and downtown from the Hallgrimskirkja Bell Tower

I was smart to arrive at Reykjavik’s Cathedral (Hallgrimskirkja) and most notable landmark right as it opened at 9AM, so I could ascend the belltower and get some pictures over the city. If I’d shown up even 15 minutes later, the pictures wouldn’t have turned out as nice as the rain/snow/sleet combo I would deal with for the rest of the day blew in.

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Swimming with my GOPRO waterproof camera in the Blue Lagoon

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The Blue Lagoon

I didn’t expect the weather to effect my visit to Iceland’s number one tourist attraction, The Blue Lagoon, as much as it did. I figured since the water was nicely heated, that it didn’t matter if it rained/snowed during the visit. I was wrong about that. The sleety mix and wind made soaking in the¬†geothermally¬†heated lagoon¬†challenging¬† The water was still comfy, but the wind was so strong I had water (and sleet) blown in my face the whole time. It also made taking pictures almost impossible, so I used my little GoPro camera and it’s waterproof casing to do the best I could. I still was glad I went, but it certainly wasn’t ideal.

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Icelandic Plate #2 at Cafe Loki

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The Micro Bar in Reykjavik

Since the weather wasn’t cooperating, I spent the rest of the day eating and drinking. I first at lunch at Cafe Loki, across from the Hallgrimskirkja, where they specialize in traditional Icelandic dishes in smaller portions so tourists can try many different kinds of Icelandic food. It was quite a step for me, an avowed non-adventurous¬†eater, but it was really good. I’ll expound on this totally unique meal in a longer post-trip post.

After dropping my car off at my wonderful guesthouse, I took a cab back into Reykjavik to a place called the Micro Bar, which had been recommended to me. I got to try four different kinds of Icelandic-brewed beers, which were all pretty good, and had a great conversation with the bartender, an extremely knowledgeable guy.

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Trying a shot of Brennivin

For dinner, I joined another American at a place called Tapas Barinn, a restaurant which specializes in Spanish-style tapas with an Icelandic interpretation. It was another adventurous meal, but my confidence was¬†buoyed¬†by the delicious lunch (and the few beers). Once again, I was glad I did it, as it was exceptional, and will also make another really interesting food post from a non-foodie’s perspective. It was here that I got to try the infamous local spirit known as Brennivin (which Wikipedia describes as “a special occasion shot¬†made from fermented grain or potato mash and flavored with caraway, cumin, and angelica.) It was not to my liking, but my American friend didn’t think it was too bad.

That’s all for now. I’d intended this be short (I guess 800 words for me is short). I’ll have another Iceland post in the next couple days. I leave for Amsterdam on Monday morning- like a reunion with an old friend.

6 Responses to “Iceland is Still Awesome”

  1. Maria says:

    Oh yeah, you got with me with that Icelandic Plate #2 at Cafe Loki – DEEELISH!

  2. Ahhhh. Iceland’s on my bucket list. What an enticing come-hither. What fun you’re having! (How do you get those accent marks into your post? Nice job.)

    Go State! (always enjoy seeing the S sweatshirt from various parts of the world.)

    • Erik says:

      Always the State pullover (it’s the most flexible piece of clothing I own, but also I like to represent!)

      Iceland is a GREAT destination!!! You should totally go!

  3. chickybus says:

    Looks like you’re having a great time–love the pics! I spent one day in Iceland during a layover. Rented a car and went to the Blue Lagoon. Was great. But I knew there was other cool stuff to do. Glad you’re doing it. Cheers!! ūüôā

  4. Kevin Merrill says:

    I’m envious. We left Iceland in 2000. It doesn’t seem like it was 13 years ago. I guess when you live there, you don’t know how good you have it. Your post is awesome and brings back some great memories. Brennivin is not one of them. Keep them coming!

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