Get to dig Reykjavík in 24h!
Now, I don't know why, but I always thought Iceland was one of those countries far away (maybe because of the 'ice' part in its name?). Turns out Reykjavík, Iceland's capital, is only a 3h flight away from Brussels! Fantastic, this means we can go there just for weekends too! :D
Having but 24h to explore the city, we were very selective in our 'To see' list. We decided to skip the time consuming cultural visits such as museums or galleries and started walking around the city to breathe in the atmosphere.
First stop on our walk was the above statue from Jón Gunnar Árnason named 'The Sun Voyager'. What do you think it is? Bernd and I were so convinced it was a Viking boat, we even made a little fun of a woman stating it had to be a fish bone. (Some people have more fantasy than others, right?) Turns out, we were both wrong as it symbolises a dreamboat, bringing an ode to the sun.
From there we walked straight up to the famous Hallgrímskirkia. Measuring 73 metres, it's the highest church in Iceland. The side wings of the tower are said to resemble the basalt lava flows occuring in the Icelandic landscape. Up till half the 20th century there weren't any trees growing in Iceland and so they used reinforced concrete to build the church.
Inside this Evangelic-Lutheran church there's an impressive 15m organ. The entrance to the church is free, but if you want to go up the tower and get a 360° view of the city, you'll pay around 900 iSK per adult.
The church is open every day, but:
- it's an active church, so unless you would like to attend a service, plan your visit at the right time.
- In winter, the church closes at 5pm instead of at 9pm!
As hours and rates tend to change, I would advice you to check out their official website.
It didn't take us long to feel at home in Reykjavík thanks to the locals who are all so relaxed and friendly. Take my two Viking friends up here. They were stoked to have their picture taken! (Leading to a whole line of other tourists following my example) :D
Oh and let's not forget our friends at Lucky Records! Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the enormous choice of vinyls and CDs, we were immediately offered a coffee while given all the time in the world to look around. We asked for some advice on local artists and we were given a varied choice of CDs. After testing a few of them at the shop, we decided to trust the owner's first suggestion: Ásgeir. You want to know if we liked it? Euh...we LOVED it! We played his music over and over again during our roadtrip the next 10 days and we continue to listen to it regularly back home in Belgium. (Small tip for Ásgeir's music: go for the original, icelandic versions!)
Wanting to inform our family about amazing Reykjavík, we set off to our first coffee bar to write the traditional postcards. We were lucky and found ourselves a seat at Mokka Kaffi, the pioneer of coffee bars who introduced the first espresso machine in town. The great coffee and pastries are very popular with both locals and tourists. Unfortunately they don't have many seats (Consider a take away coffee!). Do pop in when you're in the neighbourhood because the shop also serves as a local art gallery and they change their wallpieces every 4 to 6 weeks.
Later that day we had our second coffee at Kaffi Brennslan. We came across this café racing through the main shoppingstreets to find us a warm hat for the upcoming roadtrip. (Ok, fine, Bernd found his as planned at the store of 66° North, a true Icelandic brand. The other 6 shops were all just to find me the right one.) Cosy on the outside and the inside, this café has a second seating area on the first floor. So few space problems here, and a wide range of beverages and food.
Because there's no such thing as too much coffee, we ultimately also paid a visit to the Reykjavík Roasters. This was by far the most alternative setting (and Bernds favourite place). While drinking or waiting for your coffee, you get to watch how they roast their quality beans. Quite interesting! (Sorry, we didn't take any pictures...we'll have to go back soon! :))
All this wandering, shopping and coffee drinking made us hungry. We got a tip from our friends who visited Iceland just two months before us. 'Go to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsar', they said, also known as THE best place in Iceland (and maybe the world?) to get a hotdog. Look for a small red and white caravan...or better, look for a bunch of people lined up near the harbour and you'll be at the right spot. For more than 75 years now, they've been serving these popular, delicious little sausages. (Take it from us, you won't regret taking 2)!
Walking off this tasty hot dog, we realised the sun was setting, so we hurried back to the waterfront (with a coffee in our hands of course), to witness a magnificent sunset at the end of a perfect day.