In Iceland: My Experience in January

In Iceland: My Experience in January

I spent three days in this beautiful country and I am no where near done. This is what I have done so far. Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 11.21.23

Reykjavik: 

I love the city, no skyscrapers, colourful houses, beautiful street art makes this city a perfect place to wander around and relax. I loved shopping downtownwalking from Harpa to the lake. Going to Hallgrímskirkja and looking at the amazing view from the top. It’s also so close to the sea which is my favourite place to be! The entire sea front area is beautiful. I loved seeing the Sun Voyager sculpture

Exploring this city is a must and I can’t wait to find more places next time. Here is my post on the food I experienced in Iceland! PhoebeGill150109076 PhoebeGill150109144

The Golden Circle:

The Golden Circle is a great tour to do in winter, it runs all year round and is generally easy to do if you want to self drive. First stop is Þingvellir National Park it is a beautiful location which is steeped in geographical and historical information. I definitely want to go back in summer/autumn! Next up is Geysir and Strokkur beautiful location to see the amazing power of nature, Lastly but in no means least is the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall this place is so beautiful! A must see.

PhoebeGill150110208 PhoebeGill150110416South Iceland:

I had one day to get a glimpse of South Iceland and the short amount of time I spent there was amazing! I drove to Vik but the weather was so bad that I couldn’t see anything. I got to stop and take lots of photos of the amazing landscapes and I got to say hello to the cutest most lovely Icelandic Horses.

I did get to see two beautiful waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss

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Tips:

  1. Save up your money! I know people say it’s expensive all the time but it really is!
  2. If you want to do a lot, go on tours. Iceland is amazing but in Winter bus tours and super jeep tours are the easier option. Icelandic people know how to get around their country in Winter.
  3. Here is my post on my self drive experience
  4. Get a good jacket! I got a insulated Regatta Jacket and it was perfect!
  5. Also get a good pair of boots, if you want to do any walking get ones with good traction and waterproof shoes.

Things to note!

  1. The hot water smells like sulphur, it’s geothermal water, it’s normal don’t worry.
  2. In January daylight is from 11am-4:30pm. It does mean you get beautiful light for photos but not a lot of time adventuring.
  3. Everything is accessible. All attractions mentioned above are all just off the road. Really easy to get to and they all have toilets.
  4. Parking is really good in Iceland, there are car parks and on street parking, you can pay by card on the meters which is also really handy.

So that’s it, I can’t think of anything else. I think 14 posts for three days travel is pretty good. Have I missed anything? What should I see next?

Happy Travels!

In Reykjavik: View From The Top

In Reykjavik: View From The Top

Something that you have to do in Reykjavik is go to the top of Hallgrímskirkja. It is absolutely beautiful!

There is an admission fee of 700isk (€7) that you buy in the shop just past the entrance.

There are four sides of the tower to get a panoramic view of the city. But three of them are the best.

1. The stunning view of Mt. Esja.PhoebeGill150112019

2. The straight view of downtown Reykjavik. With the colourful buildings and gorgeous view of the water.
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3. The view of where the sun rises and the expanse of the city.PhoebeGill150112058The views are so beautiful and well worth the 7 euro. Have you been up the tower?

Happy Travels!

In Reykjavik: Hallgrímskirkja

In Reykjavik: Hallgrímskirkja

I am not a religious person and I am not that big on organised places of worship. I am not going to get into it on the internet because we all know that doesn’t end well but I recommend going to see this church. PhoebeGill150112017

It is a Lutheran church and is the 6th tallest building in Iceland. It is a focal point in the city, you can usually spot it so it’s a good building to use as a compass.

What struck me is that it is very plain, I actually liked that it was so bare, I have been in churches gilded and with stain glass, they scream of opulence and money and that doesn’t sit well with me so it was nice to go somewhere that was architecturally intricate and beautiful.

There was one stain glass window, simple, in the corner, unassuming and I really liked it.

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The thing that I was most awed by was the amazing organ as you turn to leave. Wow, this amazing piece of art is just beautiful! It is stunning, with 5275 pipes of all different sizes. It is 15 meters tall and 25 tons. It is amazing.

PhoebeGill150112268I really recommend you go in and see for yourself. It’s nice to go into a quiet place away from the bitter cold.

Happy Travels!

In Reykjavik: Downtown

In Reykjavik: Downtown

Downtown Reykjavik is where you go to shop, grab a coffee and eat. It’s got such a nice vibe and it’s great to walk around and explore, there are so many streets you can meander around. PhoebeGill150112156

I love Ireland’s 53 Degrees North, it has everything outdoorsy. 66 Degrees North is just as magical! I wanted everything in it. Every clothing item was black and grey and was perfect but woefully expensive! PhoebeGill150112152There are lots of tourism shops, from The Nordic Store, to Islandia which is the cutest shop. If you want your trinkets these are the streets to walk down. 
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At the end of the shopping street you get to the seafront road, I usually love the atmosphere near the sea and harbours and this is no different. There is Harpa, the concert and business hall on one end of the street, it’s a really cool building and on the other end is the lake. PhoebeGill150112176

There is a little park behind the lake is beautiful and would be a lovely spot in Summer, there is again, cafes and eateries around here that look really nice! This is the parliament area so it’s got gorgeous buildings and little parks. It’s lovely!PhoebeGill150112181

This is a school, how beautiful! I would love if my school looked like this! PhoebeGill150112147

Tjörnin, Reykjavik City Lake is a definite must see, this is where you can feed the ducks and swans, a lovely place to go. The Greylag Goose are adorable and will come up to you, lovely birds, probably wouldn’t put your fingers out to them though.

In winter the lake freezes and people walk across it, play football on it and it can be used for iceskating but there is a frost free section for all the birds that hang out.PhoebeGill150112194

I love this area! I want to go back and explore more. Do you have any favourite spots in this area?

Happy Travels!

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