We left our hearts in Reykjavik

Trip Start Jun 17, 2011
Trip End Aug 26, 2011

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Flag of Iceland  , Capital Region,
Friday, June 24, 2011

The reason for the long push to Reykjavik was to meet up with Laura, my friend from college, before she left the country. Even though she was holed up in the closet (only spot for Internet) of her IKEA-esque apartment most of the time to finish a project for the grad school class she was taking, she was still an amazing host and it was great to catch up with her!

We were able to extract her from the closet that first night to watch the sunset over the harbor right about midnight on the longest day of the year. (Watching these amazingly beautiful and long midnight sunsets became a tradition for the few nights we were there.) We then toasted the solstice at Reykjavik's most hipster bar, featured in the movie Reykjavik 101 for those of you pursuing more Icelandic films to enjoy.

After sleeping in thanks to Laura insisting we take her cozy bed, we had a breakfast of delicious bakery items. We kept thinking that we had it all backwards; these sort of treats should come at the end of our trip. Our introduction to the capitol was a free walking tour led by a guide with the edgey humor that seems to be characteristic of Icelanders. After getting a beat on the downtown scene, we headed up to the Hallgrimskirkja church, an icon perched on top of a hill. It was the perfect day to take the elevator to the top of the tower for colorful views of the brightly painted corrugated metal houses and mountains beyond the harbor.

After more city wandering, we made our way to a touristy Viking restaurant, unable to resist the two-for-one draft beers for walking tour participants. Our mortals forms were growing weak, we needed sustenance and Icelandic meat soup came through for us. Then we discovered a special bottled beer hiding behind the bar. Perhaps it has a more robust flavor than the modest pilsners we've come across so far...well there is only one way to find out but we would have to pay the price for it first. When we ordered a bottle, a strange look came over the face of our waiter as he said, "Just one? Are you trying to hurt my feelings?" Matt came back with, "No, just trying to see the rest of your country." He responded, "What, you can't do that under the influence?" The beer was delightful and not knowing if or when we would find it again, we splurged on a second one. And of course our waiter clad in Viking garb said I told you so.

We spent most of the next day doing traveling errands like buying maps, laundry, nothing too exciting. However, by the evening Laura had finished her final project. We celebrated at a hip new restaurant called Islenska Hamborgarafabrikkan where we ordered "lamb-burgers" that the menu described "as big of a surprise as the fall of the krona." Bellies full, we biked on to Reykjavik's largest community pool to partake in an important Icelandic pasttime of relaxing in geothermally heated water. It wasn't all relaxing though as the spiral staircase to get to the awesomest waterslide ever definitely required some serious energy expenditure.

On the last day, we sightsaw our way out of town by first checking out the "hot beach." Before you get any crazy ideas in your head about this, let me clarify that excess geothermal water is pumped into a bay, therefore making that tiny section of the North Atlantic Ocean tolerable enough to wade into. Nevermind the fully submersed Icelandic kids and the sand supposedly imported from Morocco. Next stop was a hilltop complex that provided our second set of panorama views of the area, unbelievably still with amazing weather. It also houses the Saga Museum, which summarizes key events in Icelandic history in an engaging way. Most entertaining though was the "dress like a Viking" station at the end, which I of course took full advantage of.

Our stay in Reykjavik was a great introduction to the country made even better by Laura's generousity in letting us invade her apartment for three days! It is time to move on though before the nice weather, yummy restaurants, and comfortable bed make us too soft to deal with the road ahead.

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Andres Esparza on

Way to go! One of the best ways to get acquainted with with a new place is through a local friend in the know. I wish you all the best of luck through your travels.
I have met up with 7 other cyclists in Tok, AK!!!!! We will be rolling 8 deep into Canada in a few days!

Esther and Mike on

Great jump shot!

Debbie on

i love all your posts and pictures! keep them coming and good luck with the biking ahead.

Aunt Bunny on

Great blog. I feel I am there with you and the pictures are magnificent. I would not go thru that slide with anyone else but you. It was super.

Aunt Bunny on

By the way, tell Laura her apt is tooo cute.

Judy Altman on

I am just catching up on reading your blogs and have enjoyed experiencing this trip with you. Keep writing and I'll keep reading!! Stay safe. Love to Matt too. Judy

Mark on

Those burgers look great. Bring one home to me!!!!!

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