Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Part I - Reykjavik
We landed in Keflavik airport a little bit after lunchtime, and were greeted by a sunny cold weather. We picked up our rental car, and drove straight to Reykjavik, which is located some 50km from the airport. We had decided to rent a jeep, which I highly recommend, unless you’re not planning to stray from the Ring Road. This so called Ring Road is the main road in Iceland and takes you in a circuit around the island. Most of it is paved, but some parts are still gravel, although perfectly doable on a 2WD. Bust most of the interior roads, however, are marked for 4WD access only, and we were planning to take some of these, probably needing to ford some rivers as well.
That first afternoon was spent in the city. It’s a good thing I didn’t have many expectations about it, or otherwise I might have been disappointed. It would be unfair to compare it to other Nordic capitals, such as Stockholm, my favorite, or even Helsinki. It’s quieter, smaller, and as it is, I found it to be a very relaxed, easy going kind of a city.
We didn’t have any plans for the day, and we were tired from our layover in London, so we just wandered around the center for a bit. The main shopping area (Laugavegur and the streets around it) is nice, and Icelandic designer shops are worth taking a look at.
The unmissable Halgrimskirkja church was right next to our guesthouse, but unfortunately in reconstruction, so we didn't manage to go all the way to the top, from where I read the views are spectacular.
There weren’t many people in the streets during that afternoon, but suddenly we stumbled into one of the main plazas, which was full of people sitting outside in the cafés, or in the garden nearby.
We were starving by then so we started to look for a nice place to have dinner. One thing Reykjavik does have are nice restaurants. Don’t expect them to be cheap, since everything in Iceland is quite expensive, but I suppose that with the Euro currency being so strong I didn’t find the prices to be too outrageous (or maybe it’s because the prices in Lisbon have been increasing so much as well).
We called the much recommended Saegreiffin first, but it was closed until the next Monday, so after checking a few places (including the Sjávarkjallarinn, supposedly the best restaurant in town, but none of us were up for fusion food that night) we decided to go for the more traditional Humarhusid (Lobster House)
That was an excellent choice, actually. The lobster soup was very good, as all the main dishes which included grilled lobster, grilled fresh cod and arctic char. My friend ordered whale sashimi, and after much debate with my conscience I gave in and had a bite. It didn’t surprise me that it tasted quite good, but I’m certain that was the first and last time for me. There was only one choice for dessert but it was delicious and left us content for the rest of the evening.
The next morning we would have to be up quite early so we walked back home and slept without problems despite the midnight sun.
Accomodation in Reykjavik:
A really nice guesthouse next to the Halgrimskirkja church and therefore quite close to the centre. We stayed in one of their lovely apartments, which was a great value for money, at least according to Icelandic standards. Breakfast was very good, and the service as well.
More photos at Flickr here