January in Iceland, Part I, Reykjavik

I’ve only known this feeling a few times in my life. A dream coming true, and living it. While my actual dream was horribly short-sighted…I’d wanted to “go to Iceland, sit in a hot spring, sipping prosecco or ice cold vodka shots and gaze at the aurora borealis.”  Little thumbnails born from too many Pinterest sessions. What I’d encountered instead, was a trip of a lifetime, a larger than life shot of adrenaline which woke up all of my senses. I’m glad I held out in booking that short trip a few years ago. Mike was coming with me now, and it was “our” adventure, which went from black and white to Technicolor.
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We’d arrived in Reykjavik on a very early Sunday morning, with low to no visibility and a windy, blustery, unyielding rain, but that didn’t stop the excitement. I had no idea what to expect and no preconceived expectations. We’d switched from bus to cab, too early to check into our Airbnb, and set off for the city, which was still waking up. Like a bright beacon, was the bakery/café, Sandholt on Laugavegur, in Reykjavik. As we’d jumped out of the cab, we were greeted by a sweet orange tabby cat. It instantly put me in a happy mood. We sat down for our first breakfast in this clean, bright, energetic Icelandic bakery, and feasted on bread and delicious coffee and listened to an interesting mix of US classic rock. Beyond the glass wall, we were able to spy the bakery staff making bread, and treats, and a huge vat of chocolate spinning around. The woman were all lovely, light haired, fair, and unadorned of make up and bling. It stood out to me for some reason. My first glimpse into local life. In the darkness was so much light.

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We emerged  back out into the mix of “oceanic atmosphere” and walked around town, getting a feel for the streets and conquered Hallgrímskirkja. A Lutheran parish and a massive landmark in the city, which can be seen from ‘everywhere’…the unique and soaring architecture, dramatic, yet unadorned and simple on the inside with white, towering arches. We paid for the tour and rode the tiny elevator all the way up into the clock tower, almost to the top of it’s 244 feet,  where the wind was whipping and fierce. This was the perfect place to begin our journey. Twinkly lights lighting up Reykjavik and views of the cozy city from all angles. We descended and briskly walked past the Leif Erickson statue, in the bluster.

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Mike, my adventurer, as I lovingly call him, was our fearless leader in our gang of two. He did the diligent research of how to maximize our time. He’s the brains of the operations, I’m the bull in the china shop. It’s a good combination! We took recommendations from other travelers and blogs and enjoyed every moment of our travel day. Another pit stop at a Kaffe to warm up and we ran down our luggage at the bus depot lockers and checked into our apartment and Reykjavik home.

Our hosts Valdimar and Helga were warm and welcoming, and showed us around the apartment, and left quickly. We were here! We excitedly unpacked and settled into our clean and modern flat, which looked like an Ikea catalog showroom. We chose an apartment on a busy street. Busy, meaning lively, but not overbearing. We enjoyed the bustle. From our vantage point was the marina, with festive restaurants and ships in dock being repaired (we could see the welding sparks now and again!)  and a mix of tourist stands for tours and information. A perfect launch pad for us, figuratively and literally. I would highly recommend our area to stay. We could walk everywhere and we did!

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After a well deserved nap, we dragged ourselves out of bed and walked to the market and bought food and snacks for our apartment… Icelandic Skyr style yogurt, and cheese and treats. Going food shopping in another country is fun… just exploring what’s the same and what’s different. In the background, the Bee Gee’s greatest hits was playing and it was surreal and joyful to bop along while navigating the aisles.

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On the walk back, Mike was mistaken for a local by a tourist looking for direction to a museum. We felt happy about that.  We immersed quickly. Our mission was a success, but we  craved bread from our first stop.  Icelandic bread is the fruit of the Norse gods, and  I must sing its praises. We walked back across town to “our” bakery, Sandholt for our second visit in one day and purchased our crusty sourdough round, and not a morsel went to waste!

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Back through town with a quick peek at the big ships and the marina at night, we were welcomed back to our warm and bright apartment for wine and snacks and discussions about our trip the next morning to snorkel the Silfra Fissure! Of course, lots of snuggles because, baby, it was cold outside!  The adventure was afoot!

Next post…. Part 2, Snorkeling in 32 degrees…

Recommendations:

Sandholt Bakery: Make this your first stop if you have an early morning arrival! Eat anything and everything and fuel up for a walk to Hallgrímskirkja (won’t be your last!)
It’s right in the heart of things… lots of shops. A good way to delve in your first morning while the city is still waking up. Please buy bread… trust me. I’m dreaming of this little sweet place.

Website: sandholt.is/en

Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4155087 This was our cozy place, but there are tons to choose from. I had a hard time leaving our home away from home.

Little things: Get money from the ATM at the airport so you have cash in hand, research your choice of airport transfers, pack lightly if you have a washer and dryer in your lodging. I think I packed just a bit too much in worry that I had what I’d need.

Clothing: Eddie Bauer. Mike is their unofficial spokesperson 🙂 http://www.eddiebauer.com/

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “January in Iceland, Part I, Reykjavik

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