We’ve been waxing poetic about our honeymoon a lot lately. Imagining what it would be like to drop everything, pack up the dogs, and move to Iceland to open a little bakery. Turns out you don’t need a visa for six months. Yes, we’ve looked that seriously. I don’t think our love of that mysterious little island was because of post-wedding bliss, either. We’re either happy or sad and although we had the most amazing wedding experience ever, I think we just had one hell of a vacation.
I kept a journal and a pen in my purse, and took it everywhere we went. We wrote down what we did everyday, just like my mom used to do on our family vacations. It always seemed silly, but man. It’s so fun to look back at what she typed up of our trip to Europe in 1997. I was a munchkin who thought I was cooler than I really was – as in, I drank my first wine on that trip and wanted to bathe in escargot butter and thought frog legs were the coolest thing ever. I knew that Russell and I needed to do the same thing for our trip. We ended up doing most of the writing in restaurants, or curled up back at wherever we were staying, as something to do while we escaped the cold and, often, wet conditions. It was bliss. And I want to remember it forever. So, what better way than to share it in this space? Maybe you’re planning an Icelandic adventure! (I know my girl Teresa of Tremendous Times is and I can’t wait for her review.)
February 25: After flying from Nebraska to London, then to Keflavik, with an hour bus ride to Reykavik, we settled in at our PERFECT Air Bnb and ventured out for dinner. One of the awesome things about renting an apartment is that the host will usually leave some information about where to eat – and it’s actually helpful information, as opposed to whatever your hotel wants you to know.
- SNAPS for dinner. I can highly recommend the bouillabaisse. It was insane. Russell had redfish with cabbage and grapes. Obviously we had chocolate cake with vanilla is.
February 26: It was pretty dark when we settled in the day before, so we didn’t see that, just outside our apartment, was an insane view of the water and Mount Esja. The cold air woke up our jet-lagged bodies and, god, it was so beautiful. I felt like we were in heaven, looking down at that blue water and the mountain. We walked a lot that day and grabbed little snacks along the way. A walk along the water, no matter how cold, is worth it.
- Kryddlegin hjörtu for every lunch we had in Reykjavik. It took us a while to find this gem, but, boy, when we did!! They have two locations and we only visited the more casual of the two. It’s about $15 USD for lunch, which is very cheap for Iceland. They have four homemade soups everyday, and an amazing fresh salad selection. And you can go back for more as many times as you want. The veggies they use are washed with sacred crystals! We had soups like: tomato, peanut-chicken, coconut curry, chicken curry, Icelandic lamb… it was amazing. Salads included apples with grated ginger and line; apple chunks with yoghurt, dates, and cinnamon. She made yeast-free spelt and barley bread, too. It was amazing.
- Reykjavik Art Museum – A great respite from the cold, and so well curated. We loved this place. It’s set along the harbor and used to be a repair/painting warehouse for boats, so it has some amazing architecture.
- Halligrimskrikja –The main church, set up on a hill. Great place to watch for the Northern Lights and sunsets.
- Café Loki – Seriously amazing, unpretentious Icelandic food at this second-floor cafe. We had meat soup, rye bread with lamb paté, herring on toast with hard-boiled egg, haddock with mashed potatoes, sheep head’s jelly, roasted turnips, pea and bean salad, and smoked trout with farmer’s cheese. Don’t forget about the hákarl and Brennevin! Fermented shark is not as disgusting as everyone says.
- Valdís for ice cream – Vegan blackberry for me, cookies and cream for Russell. Just go there, even though you’ll walk 30 minutes at night, when it’s freezing cold.
February 27: Another full day in Reykjavik. And a lot more food. We ended up at Kryddlegin Hjörtu again, of course, and tried some other faves.
- Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Insane hot dogs in a food cart. If you’ve watched a show on Iceland, this was in it. Lots of sauces and lots of crunchy onions. Russell noted in our travel journal that they were playing Rancid, which made him pretty happy.
- 871 +/- 2, The Viking Settlement Exhibition – Awesome museum with interesting technology. I wondered how interested it would be, but I’m glad we went.
- Shopping! I did some damage at KronKron, KRAUM, and The Icelandic Handknitting Association – and recommend them all.
- Fiskfélagid, or Fish Company – This restaurant was participating in the Food and Fun Festival, where chefs from around Scandinavia and Northern Europe have short residencies in restaurants around Reykjavik. It was difficult to choose just one, but we loved this. We had great food like, chicken skin with apple and vinegar powder; bread with a beet and raspberry jam; Icelandic lobster with german turnip, cucumber, salad purée, and a buttermilk mussel broth; lamb fillet with hay and vegetable ash, marrow powder, and beet gel; and spanish cheese parfait with skyr ice cream, lemon zest meringue, and sorrel sauce. Insanely beautiful and amazing. Service was great.
We saw the Northern Lights this night, the only time of the whole trip. We were walking along the harbor after dinner and just saw some green flashes across the sky, very faint. Then they moved. And then they moved again. We sat outside Harpa Concert Hall for about 30 minutes, just watching the sky move. Back at our apartment across town, we saw the Lights even stronger from our windows. It was as magical as everyone says it is.
From here, we drove to Vík. Stay tuned!