Friday, 19 June 2015

Iceland Day 3: Reykjavik

The stunning view of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, from the top of Hallgrimskirkja


After spending a few hours stewing in the Blue Lagoon we headed back to Reykjavik.  There were a few things that I was interested in doing that I knew Mr Jones wouldn't be interested in so we took the opportunity to split up for a few hours and explore on our own.

We walked through the town centre and down to the harbour where I legged it across the main road to have a look at the view across the sea, thinking "the next bit of land from here is Greenland" and breathing in the salty air.





Back across the road and up through the harbour.  One thing I'd noticed is that Reykjavik loves a good bit of art/graffiti…


An old boat by Reykjavik harbour

There are so many buildings in Reykjavik that have murals painted on the side - this is just by the harbour


I had a wander up Austurstræti (where we'd been for burgers at Brooklyn the night before)…


Austurstræti - right in the heart of Rekyjavik


…up Bankastræti…

Bankastræti - a great street in Reykjavik for shopping!


…and then up Skólavörðustígur towards the cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja.


A view from Skólavörðustígur of Hallgrimskirkja, the cathedral in Reykjavik


Fish leather, anyone?




How about every type of knitted item you could imagine?  Stop by the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop - handmade jumpers, cardigans, gloves which are all knitted using Icelandic wool following traditional patterns.


If you're visiting Reykjavik be sure to stop by the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop on Skólavörðustígur.  It's a stones throw from the cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja, and offers a number of items, all knitted by hand, following traditional Icelandic patterns


I do love visiting cathedrals, especially ones here in England with the nooks and crannies, the smell of old things and furniture polish and flagstones worn down by centuries of people walking around.  Hallgrimskirkja was completely different…construction was started in 1945 and only finished in 1986!

Hallgrimskirkja - the beautiful cathedral in Reykjavik

Hallgrimskirkja, the cathedral in Reykjavik which was finished being built in 1986


Inside was minimal but still impressive with narrow windows on all sides so it felt quite airy and a spectacular organ behind you when you walk down the aisle.


The view of the the interior of Hallgrimskirkja is simple but stunning


The best bit?  For ISK 800 you can take a lift about 73 metres up to the top of the spire and get some of the most stunning views you might ever see.  I love how colourful the city below looks!  The photos and video really don't do it justice at all.


The stunning view of Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, from the top of Hallgrimskirkja

Snowy mountains outside Reykjavik framed by a round window in the spire of the cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja

I then headed to the main shopping street, Laugavegur, to do a little shopping.  There's a mix of touristy gift shops, restaurants, clothes shops and boutiques.  And graffiti, don't forget the graffiti!


There are a lot of buildings in Reykjavik that have murals/graffiti - where do they come from?!

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?


In the evening we spent a good amount of time having a final wander then tried to decide what to have for dinner.  As good as they had been, I couldn't face another burger so we started at Tíu Dropar which was a cosy little place that could be easily missed if you weren't looking for it.


Blink and you'll miss it - Tiu Dropar in Rekjavik is snuggled below street level


Unfortunately the menu didn't inspire us (Mr Jones is not a fan of cheese which featured pretty heavily on the menu) so headed down the road.

My friend LouLou suggested going to the Lebowski Bar and it looked fun from the outside so thought we'd pop in to see what it was like.


Lebowski bar in Reykjavik - don't forget to try the White Russian!

Lebowski Bar, Reykjavik - if you are racist, sexist, homophobic or an asshole, don't come in


Any other time I would have stayed there for the whole night but the menu was burger and meat heavy.  I did think it'd be rude to go to the Lebowski Bar and not have a White Russian (my first one!)…


My first ever White Russian at Lebowski in Reykjavik


God, it was good!  I could have spent the night drinking them but think the amount of cream involved would probably make me sick pretty quickly!

More graffiti…is it graffiti or is it art…?  Where does it all come from?!


Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?

Turn any corner in Reykjavik and you are likely to find a building with something painted on the side.  Graffiti or art…?


In the end we decided on Chinese food for dinner so stopped at Veitingahúsið Asía.  It was everything you'd expect from a Chinese restaurant on the inside and the menu wasn't a million miles from menus I've ordered from in England and America…




The portion sizes were ridiculous!  If we had known the starters were so epic I think we would have had second thoughts about ordering a main course!


Ridiculously large appetisers from Veitingahúsið Asía in Reykjavik - spring rolls, tom yum soup and pork


Near the end of our meal I spied some hail coming down outside and got a little excited - we had maybe two days of snow here in England over winter so was  secretly hoping for some wintery weather in Iceland.  There wasn't much of it but it made me happy!




Little did I know what would happen the following morning just before we left for the airport…




We headed back to Keflavik to hand in the rental car by which time the snow had pretty much stopped and the sun started shining.

We had a little time before our flight left so wanted to get some breakfast - there's not a lot available in the airport…until you get past security!  I bought a sandwich from a shop near the check in desks but wish I had waited until a bit later where there was SO much more on offer not to mention duty free!

The quote on the wall by our gate was a beautiful thought to leave the country on…





I can't stress how much I enjoyed the short time that we were in Iceland.  I definitely have to go back and think that the next time we go it'd be great to rent a house somewhere off the beaten track to enjoy some time "off the grid" and perhaps actually get to see the Northern Lights.

Have you visited Iceland?  If you've stayed outside the capital I'd love to hear your tips and suggestions!

Day 1: Arriving in Iceland
Day 2: The Golden Circle
Day 3 (pt 1): The Blue Lagoon

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