In Iceland: Food and Where to Eat

In Iceland: Food and Where to Eat

Iceland has no McDonalds or Starbucks, I knew I was going to like this country when I learned this information. Here are some of the things I tried in the three days I was there.

What I Ate In Reykjavik:

First up is Hamborgarafabrikkan (Hamburger Factory) I went to the one in the Kringlan Shopping Center, a really nice mall with loads of shops. It’s a nice setting, with interesting decorations and even more interesting choices of burgers. There is a lot to choose from I decided to get a Morthens (without mushrooms) beef, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and Béarnaise sauce. Yes that is correct, the tastiest sauce is on a burger! It cost 2075 isk which is €14. I liked it very much, it also comes with fries which are very tasty. The burger is very filling and cooked very nicely. It’s is quite like Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Ireland. Very tasty and a nice treat.

One thing I noticed that I was the only one eating the burger with my hands. Everyone and I mean everyone, used a knife and fork to eat their food. I found this very odd so if you want to fit in then maybe choose your cutlery.

PhoebeGill150129001The second night I went to Forréttabarinn (Starters) this is like an Icelandic tapas type restaurant down by the marina, sea front area. They have starters and larger starters. Starters cost 1550 Isk which is €10 and bigger starters are 2450 isk which is €16. Now this restaurant is very nice, it’s a nice design inside and the art on the building is gorgeous, it’s got a bar and a restaurant so it’s a great place to chill out. The food is cooked well and very tasty but the portions are small. I had the Teriyaki chicken skewer to start and it is tiny! It was two pieces of chicken on a bed of salad and lentils and a puree of some sort. Very pleasant but small for ten euro.

The main I chose was the cod and pork belly, im not a huge fan of cod or fish in general so I asked if I could just have the pork on it’s own and the chief said no it wouldn’t work, when it arrived at the table I understood what he meant. It was one thin slice of pork and about four pieces of cod, with again a nice puree and tomato sauce. Again very tasty and the fish wasn’t oily and too strong for my taste but again very small for 16 euro.

This place is really nice and I know Iceland is expensive but you should have a meal knowing your going to be nicely full and be comfortable having three courses without worrying how much every plate costs.
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I then went to Sjávargrillið (Seafood Grill) This restaurant is on the main street of Reykjavik, it’s a pleasant place with a nice design, terrible music but you can get over that. I once again chose pork, if you don’t already know I love pork! It was pork belly, some poached pears, celeriac, potato, some puree, red cabbage, fig puree and caramel popcorn. Now firstly, there was way too much stuff on the plate, way too much! I didn’t eat most of it. Second, the vegetables were undercooked, the meal was not hot, it was lukewarm and I didn’t really feel like most of the stuff went together at all. The main courses range from 3990 isk (€26) to 6720 isk (€45) and I can whole heartedly say, it is not worth the money. It’s really unfortunate, this is the second best restaurant in Reykjavik and I don’t really know why. We got 4 things, a starter, two mains, one glass of wine and tap water and it was €110. That is way too much money! PhoebeGill150112163

Now I have no idea if these are what is normal in Reykjavik or Iceland in general but it was quite difficult to sit through a meal thinking about how much stuff costs. It puts a strain on the atmosphere. These were all dinner places so maybe lunch restaurants are more comfortable but I was busy during the day.

I am not done with the eating in Reykjavik, I will be back to try more food!

Snacks and Food: 

I tried a Klenät, which is a twisted doughnut, it was deliciously spiced and half coated in chocolate. It is a scandinavian pastry. It was really tasty and I think it would go perfectly with coffee or a hot chocolate. I got mine in Kornið bakarí (Grain bakery) and it cost 999 isk (€6.50)

PhoebeGill150109086I love going to the supermarkets when I travel and scanning the aisles for different and interesting foods. I went to Hagkaup to explore what Iceland has to offer.

One of my favourite things I got was this juice from the supermarket. I was sick in Iceland (typical!) and I wanted to get something that gave me some vitamins. I saw this ginger juice on the shelf and I got very excited, it is really delicious! It’s got a good amount of ginger, a really nice heat. If you like ginger you will love this! I miss it! It cost 204 isk (€1.40) PhoebeGill150110423

I was shown poppsalt about two years ago and I wanted to get my own jar, I love cinema popcorn, I love the stale, way too salty, buttery popcorn that is way overpriced but I simply can’t justify how expensive it is! So when I was told about this I needed to pick it up. It is exactly like cinema popcorn and you don’t have to use a lot to achieve the results! It’s 362 isk (€2.40) I definitely recommend you check out the spice aisle and I don’t know what I will do when I run out, I’m just going to have to take another trip!
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Another thing you should check out is the lamb soup at Gullfoss, it is a tasty, warming broth thats packed full of veggies and meat. You should check it out, you also get a free refill!

Chocolate:PhoebeGill150114002PhoebeGill150115004Icelandic chocolate is yummy! They have a lot of variations and they are all tasty! It’s also probably going to be the cheapest thing in the shop so it’s really easy to pick up! I recommend the 45% chocolate, it is delicious!!

Some things I noticed:

  1. Icelandic tap water is wonderful! You definitely don’t need fizzy drinks!
  2. There is a lot of Americanised food. I saw Jolly Ranchers, Reece’s, half liter cans of coke, free refills, KFC, Taco Bell. It’s weird being in Europe and seeing so much american food.
  3. They love fish and pork together. Odd for me but the cod and pork I had was nice.
  4. Eating in restaurants is really expensive!
  5. The supermarket has everything! Lots of european and american stuff.
  6. Gas Stations or garages usually have hot food, like hot dogs, burgers and toasted sandwiches. So they are handy if you are travelling outside restaurant opening hours and on the road.

The Icelandic food I had was generally really nice but the price is quite steep. I would love to try some traditional family food, I wonder what it is like. I also want to try lots of cafes because I’m sure there are some lovely places! I can’t wait to go back. I hope this inspires some of you. Do you have any recommendations? 

Happy Travels!

In Reykjavik: Street Art

In Reykjavik: Street Art

Reykjavik has some amazing street art and sculptures scattered all round the city. I definitely recommend you walk around and try and spot these incredible pieces. All you have to do is keep walking, go down small streets and you are sure to find beautiful pieces all across the city.PhoebeGill150814531I love these birds they reminded me of the guinea fowl I saw in South Africa.PhoebeGill150112150

I love that down small streets you can find wonderfully creative pieces.PhoebeGill150813517

I don’t want to show too much because it’s a fun game wandering around finding them. Reykjavik is beautiful and with the addition of street art it makes it even more wonderful!
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Happy Travels!PhoebeGill150815561

In Reykjavik: Sun Voyager

In Reykjavik: Sun Voyager

The Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture is something I completely recommend, in Winter the light is just gorgeous, yellow and pink skies cause this whole scene to become the most beautiful spectacle. PhoebeGill150109094

The sculpture was made by Jón Gunnar Árnason, an Icelandic artist. It is a representation of a dream boat and is an ode to the sun. It tries to create hope, dreams, progress and freedom. PhoebeGill150109095There will be lots of people there trying to get their shots, so mindful when someone is taking a picture and try not to ruin it by hogging the sculpture for a long time.

The view of Mount Esja is just breathtaking and with the city behind you it is beautiful. I urge you to go at sunrise or sunset and enjoy!

Happy Travels!

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In Iceland: Self Driving in January

In Iceland: Self Driving in January

Let me preface this post by saying, I have never been in a Nordic/Scandinavian country during winter and I don’t have much experience with snow at all really.

Now I thought driving in Iceland would be a lot different to how it was. This first picture is what I thought the One road would be like, wet but clear roads but oh how I was wrong! I went on the 1 road and the 49 and the 36 roads. If you are not used to driving in snow, please be careful. You concentration levels go up and journeys take longer so factor that into your plans.

PhoebeGill150112068 The three days I was there, the weather was changeable and had strong winds. The roads for the first two days were like this photos below. All the roads where snowy and icy, all rental cars have studded winter tires which help dramatically.

I also went on a Grey Line tour, the busses are great on the snow and ice and it can take a lot of pressure and stress off your trip. A lot of people opt for Super Jeep tours (they look like a lot of fun) or bus tours. I think my Grey Line Golden Circle tour was around €65 per person. It was a full day from 10:30am – 7pm

PhoebeGill150111086 Tips for Self Driving:

  1. Weather changes very quickly. Pull over if you are nervous (In a safe place) and wait for it to pass.
  2. Go slow, Icelandic people can drive fast but you don’t have to, go slow, they will over take you.
  3. Watch the roundabouts, you can drift very easily.
  4. Remember, a journey that takes 2 hours might take you 4 or 5. It takes two and a half hours from Reykjavik to Vik but it took us over 5 hours, with breaks and the crazy weather changes and the fact you have to concentrate more.
  5. If you are driving around the country I recommend you have enough petrol, stop off and fill up the tank even if you don’t think you’ll need it. Just in case.
  6. If there are high winds, loose snow can cause really bad visibility, keep calm and find the yellow post at the side of the road. It is usually because you are in between a mountain, it will pass.

Some websites I recommend:

  1. How to drive in Iceland
  2. Road conditions for the whole of Iceland
  3. Safe Travel Iceland 
  4. 112 Iceland App

PhoebeGill150111590This photo above is what happens when loose snow is pushed by the wind. It is terrifying in the dark! Generally if you want to travel great distances you go first thing in the morning when its dark, make smart choices, you can always turn back.

Driving in Iceland was an experience! It is scary and difficult but it is kind of fun and you do get used to it. Just remember, never go into dangerous situations, keep calm and drive carefully.

Happy (Safe) Travels!
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In Iceland: Horses

In Iceland: Horses

There are Icelandic horses all over the Golden Circle and on the drive to Vík so there will always be a chance for you to stop and say hello.  I find these creatures fascinating. Firstly their purpose is tourism and meat. I think they have a few agricultural roles but that is not their main purpose. The breed is highly controlled, you can buy an Icelandic horse but once it has been outside of Iceland it can never return in fear of disease.  PhoebeGill150111587Icelandic horses are tough animals because they stay outdoors all the time. They huddle together and stand with their backs against the wind and snow to keep warm. Even though the horses are standing all day everyday in the harshest of weather but are still the most friendly creatures. If you stand at the fence for even the shortest amount of time they will come over to you and enjoy the attention. I could have stood there all day. PhoebeGill150111602

These animals are so soft and have such a wonderful temperament. I can’t wait to have more interactions with them in the future. The breed is quite interesting because they are the only horse to have all 5 gaits. Now I don’t horse ride but that sounds like an impressive quality to have. PhoebeGill150109054
One thing I really want to do is a tour on one of these wonderful creatures. Now when I went in January it was a snow storm risk so that may not be enjoyable and in Summer Iceland is plagued by midges so spring or autumn are times where I would consider going.

I have fallen in love with these animals, just a little.

Happy Travels!
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In Iceland: Skógafoss

In Iceland: Skógafoss

Wow, this waterfall is absolutely beautiful! You can see it from the road so you can’t miss it. It is amazing in January because there are icicles hanging off the rocks and it is snow covered, it is nothing like I have ever seen before. PhoebeGill150111646

There is a lookout platform to the right of the falls and I definitely recommend you go up and look. You can look down on to the waterfall and you can get a get view of the landscape around. PhoebeGill150111690I absolutely love this waterfall and I can’t wait to go back and check it out when all the snow has melted away. The scale and the power of these falls is just amazing, you have to go see it!

Happy Travels!