We arrived in Reykjavik after a whirlwind two weeks in Japan where we tried, tested and trekked across some of the biggest cities in the world, in search of some of the most amazing foods, flavours and (penis) festivals in the world.
So Reykjavik came as a shock to our buzzing systems, with only a handful of shop-lined streets, contrasting sharply with the breathtaking natural environment (and weather – we thought Japan had been cold!).
On our first morning exploring the city, we set out along the streets, only to turn the corner and be greeted by massive, sweeping snow covered mountains. How do Rejykavikans get anything done with that as their view on the drive to work each morning??? We wandered as slowly as the brisk weather permitted, pausing for a photo here and there, or simply just to marvel at the fact we had literally taken off from skyscrapers only to land among mountains.
Reykjavik itself is small and charming. Its sunny houses compensate for the usually tumultuous weather – the story goes that the government gave residents colourful paint to inject some colour into the city during Iceland’s miserable winters – but we were pleasantly surprised by sunny skies for most of our stay.
In Reykjavik itself, there are only a handful of tourist ‘must sees’ – Hallgrimskirka cathedral peeks out at you from most of the intersecting streets which are dotted with a range of cute cafes and gift shops – its very much a city designed to appeal to tourists.
But while its perfect for tourists in many ways, the strength of the Krona leaves something to be desired – particularly for the budget conscious traveller such as ourselves. Instead of eating out at some of the city’s best cafes (and it is known for having many), we satisfied ourselves with some of the cheaper – but no less delicious fare on offer.
By the Old Harbour, we enjoyed langoustine soup and salmon at Seabaron – famous for its lobster-laden broth, seafood skewers fresh from that day’s catch. Its also one of the and few places you can sample Minke Whale rather than committing to a full meal – we tried it and could have gone back for seconds, similar in taste and texture to really high quality steak. We splurged at the Laundromat Cafe – a tourist mecca with its colourful interiors and heaving plates full of local ingredients and delicious combinations. We saved at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – literally meaning best hotdogs – for delicious buns filled with mustard, mayonnaise, relish and crunchy fried onions.
Small enough to walk almost entirely around in a day, Reykjavik features enough beautiful buildings and a distinct, rugged culture contrasted with its stunning backdrop that mean you could spend a few days marvelling at this amazing place bordering the wilderness for days.