Reykjavik: a very brief, very nice introduction

Day 1: November 5, 2015

I did not meet a Travis Fimmel lookalike, but I did meet me a viking all the same – our bus driver and former sea Captain of 33-years, Frikee (pronounced ‘Freak-ee’).

First impressions upon flying to the Keflavik airport at 6:00 AM Iceland time, with the sun yet to rise?

B a r r e n.

Minimal lights, and the areas of lights/communities were quite small. Curious to see the country up close and in the daylight. Curiosity would be answered in three hours: this time of year the sun rises around 9:00 AM.

Had to go through security and all that X-Ray business again, which meant I had to down my YYZ water like a champ. I ain’t throwing out no water bottle (especially my trusty travel water bottle. It’s pink).

Took out some money which was super simple, except that I requested, “200,000 Kronur please.”
“WHAT?!”
“Is that enough for a week?”
“What is your currency? How much do you want to exchange?”

The zeroes are confusing. I had requested CAD$2000. Oops.

Met my Gate1 guide, Erling, who commented on my name being from the Nederlands. Met some Americans who would be my travel companions for the next few days.

Upon exiting the airport, I noted the air was warm. This won’t be too bad I thought. Kim and I will be more than fine with all the gear we brought. Then we dragged our luggage around a corner. WHOOSH. The wind was fierce, the rain sideways. If I had a hat on, it likely would have been blown off. Likely.

45 minutes later we were at the Skuggi (translation? Shadow) Hotel, finished being built a couple months ago no less. ‘Twas mod, and very as I like to say, Scandi: clean, simple lines, quotes on walls from the Behind the Mountains book in each room, and Danish furniture pieces chillin’ in the lobby.

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Skuggi Hotel, What else?

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Dream of wall quotes

We had 30 minutes to check-in and drop our bags off. I ate some peanuts. And we were off on a small, quick tour of Reykjavik.

First stop, Northern Lights Centre. We learned about the Northern Lights, and what settings to have our cameras set to. Clever.

Learned a little about Reykjavik’s history and how in the 1940’s first the British came, then the Americans, and with them they brought Coke, chocolate, nylons (Erling was very specific about this), and work.

Visited Perlan (the pearl), grabbed my first ISK purchase. $10 yogurt, and admired the views of the surrounding area. First took a pic with these guys:

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A girl with no sleep and some musicians

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View from Perlan

Onwards to a Lutheran church (aka Hallgrimskirkja), the largest church in Iceland.

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A very Scandi ceiling

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Largest organ in the country

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Explorer Leif Eriksson

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We continued on to snap pictures of a 4-tonne piece of the Berlin wall, located at the site where Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev shook hands (c. 1986). Read about it here and here.

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Piece of the Berlin Wall

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Gorbachev

Last stop was the Harpa (concert hall and conference centre). Made to replicate the colours of the Northern Lights – best seen at night.

 

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The Harpa

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A ceiling and a where’s Waldo moment

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A view from inside the Harpa

After having been up for over 24-hours, we made our way back to the Skuggi Hotel. I took a much needed nap and waited for Kim to arrive! I really couldn’t sleep; I was too excited.

#JuliaAndKimReunite2015

The rest of our first day in Iceland was spent reacquainting ourselves, introducing ourselves to the Gate1 group in the dining area, and of course, going out for some much needed dinner at the Erling recommended (and never tried) Fish Company. It was delicious of course, but, as I’ve Instagrammed, cost me my whole trip. Iceland be pricey.

An aside:
I’ve never travelled with a tour group before. While there are definitely some cons (stopping when you normally wouldn’t have, waiting for people to come back to the bus who are running late, listening to some… what you would consider annoying conversations… dealing with some real foul attitudes, etc), overall it was a great experience and I am happy I travelled the way I did. Erling was phenomenal and I couldn’t stop giggling quietly to myself listening to how he described his country and what we should expect. The Icelandic way of speaking is very dry and very matter of fact, with minimal expression if any at all.

 

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