BHW and I arrived in Iceland rearing to go! We had 18 hours in between touch down and take off and a lot of things we wanted to see and do!
I was welcomed to the country with a text from Jan, our AirBnB host in Denmark, letting me know that our apartment was ready! 'YAY!', I thought. And then it hit me that he was telling me our apartment was ready TODAY. We are not supposed to be in Denmark until tomorrow! Somehow.. in some odd turn of events.. I booked our AirBnb from the 8th-12th.. instead of the 9th-12th! I think the travel of 2 days really threw me off when I was booking the apartment and just wasn't paying attention. Well, there went $90! Grr. Thankfully, our host wasn't upset, but how could he be.. he was getting paid for nothing! I was pretty frustrated about it.. but BHW can usually help bring me back into perspective. He said, 'It's already done, and there's nothing we can do now, so let's not get bent outta shape about it.' Ok. Easy enough (I think.. still mad about that wasted money!). Now lets enjoy Iceland.
I had read that there was a place we could store our bags at the airport, that way we wouldn't have to lug them through Reykjavik all day! What I did NOT read was that the place to store the bags was a mile away. On top of that, the woman that pointed us in the correct direction did just that, she only pointed.. no name of the business, no color of the building, she just pointed and said 'by the rental cars'. All the rental car places had super long lines so we ended up asking a hotel nearby where to put our bags. They pointed to a building.. and this time gave the name (thanks annoyed lady at the hotel!). I had a feeling by her response that she gets asked this question often. We went to the building she directed us to and a kind man let us know that the luggage storage used to be there, and that we had to go to a different building. After walking in circles for what felt like an hour.. we finally dropped our packs off for the day.. so worth the $15! Unfortunately, that wasn't the way we wanted to start our extremely limited time in Iceland.. on top of being hangry (mom, this means hungry and angry) and exhausted. But, life is boring when it goes smoothly.. so we just rolled with the punches! We then bought our bus tickets and hopped on for the uneventful hour ride into the city center!
We drove through the lava fields near the coast until we reached the city. The landscape was so foreign! It seemed like we were on another planet! Reykjavik is a super quaint town .. I can't even really call it a city! All the houses are tiny, colorful, and of course adorable! As soon as we arrived into town, we headed straight for Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Church, the largest church in the country! I was blown away at the organ inside! There was a gentleman practicing for the late morning mass and it was just amazing! The organ was MASSIVE! We sat and listened for a while before moving on to more important things.. COFFEE. Our first coffee stop of the day was at Mokka Kaffi, one of Iceland's oldest cafes and the first to have an espresso machine! We entered and it was dark and filled with grainy wood tables and chairs. To some it may have seemed dank or old.. but I really enjoyed the feel of it. I ordered a Mokka and BHW got a cappuccino, we also split a ham and cheese sandwich. I'm not sure where the mix-up happened.. but apparently ordering a mocha gets you a hot chocolate? I was utterly confused since hot chocolate was also on the menu, but I didn't complain and enjoyed my mug full of sugar.
After coffee (hot chocolate, lame), we walked up and down a few streets and window shopped a bit before ending up at Reykjavik Roasters because I seriously needed some caffeine in my mouth. The roaster was small with a nice line waiting at the bar. I always love to see a line at coffee shops, it's a sign of what's to come. It also helped that they had like 32872 million awards all over the shelves and walls. Since I had already been tricked into drinking a hot chocolate, my belly was pretty full of milk. I opted for a cortado (espresso and milk 1:1 ratio). The espresso was light and fruity, exactly what I needed to conquer the walking and weather that ended up hitting us during the day!
Old Harbor was next on our list of places to explore! We stopped first at the gorgeous Harpa Concert Hall. It's strikingly modern in a town full of old (but equally as beautiful) buildings. After exploring Harpa, we went outside to hunt down the world's best hot dog according to many different sources! As soon as we left the concert hall, it started raining, but we were prepared and didn't let the unexpected rain get us down! Our hunting led us up and down the harbor, but not to the hotdog! We walked past many small fishing boats, and a couple whale watching tours. It was such a beautiful sight with the snow covered mountains in the background! Ducking into the tourism center, we warmed up and tried to dry off while using their free wifi to find out exactly where this magical hot dog was hidden! Thankfully we were only a block away! Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is just a food stand on the corner of a busy street. I have read that there is typically a line that's worth waiting in, but we lucked out and only had to wait behind a family of 3! The hot dogs were pretty cheap, and I will say they were mighty delicious! We got our dogs with 'the works', mustard, mayo, ketchup, and crunchy onions! Eating a hot dog makes anyone want a cold beer, so we walked down the street to Sæta Svínid, a local pub! We grabbed a beer and tried to dry off completely before making the long walk to Perlan!
The walk to Perlan (The Pearl) was our biggest distance covered of the day, but it was fun to wander through the outer skirts of the city! It was still raining, but it was just a light drizzle.. so we at least weren't soaking wet! The Perlan hosts many events and concerts, there is also a restaurant on the top floor, with an outdoor 360 degree viewing deck! We went to check out the viewing deck, and it didn't disappoint! By the time we reached the Perlan, the sun had forced its way through the clouds. It made for a gorgeous view of the town, bay, and mountains in the distance! Once we soaked in the view of the town from above.. we were ready for a little R&R after walking almost 12 miles during the day!
We caught a bus to The Blue Lagoon, where we had already purchased tickets for the evening session. The Blue Lagoon is a man made geothermal destination! Although the pools are man made.. the water itself is 100% natural. We arrived and were directed to shower off and put some conditioner in our hair before we hopped into the pools (this is due to the minerals drying out your hair). Once ready to go, we headed out to the milky water! The color of the water comes from the minerals that are in the pools, and also the silica and algae. It looks like a milky blue color to the eye, but the water is actually white! The sun is what makes it look blue-ish. There were many people in the pools, but once you swam past the main area.. there was really plenty of space to find a little peace and quiet. Buckets of Silica mud were throughout the pools and you could just dip your hands in and slather it all over your face! Letting it sit for 10 minutes in the sun and washing it off again was like a mini spa treatment! The Blue Lagoon also had a steam cave, sauna, and a waterfall. The waterfall was so fun to stand under, it felt like a massage on your back with the water falling over you. The pools closed at 9:30PM and were our last stop before going to the airport for our 1AM flight. We weren't planning on leaving until closing time in order to prevent hours of waiting at the airport! If I'm going to have to wait somewhere, I would rather it be in a scenic thermal pool than the cold airport!
When closing time rolled around, we called a taxi and went back to the airport. For a tiny airport, it was strange to see 4 other flights leaving at 1AM! It was oddly loud and busy for an airport in the middle of the night!