It happened quite by accident... it was a no good, very bad day... and we simply had to find someplace wonderful as our escape. So we thought of places we would like to go for Spring Break (March 18-26, 2018)... checked ticket prices for destinations in the USA. This was an epic fail so we opened an email from Scott's Cheap Travel and there it was a $325 roundtrip ticket from Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland. Our adventure was born! Because why wouldn't a 54yr old woman and her 24yr old daughter go Big!
Our flight was with Icelandair... it was good --- 3 1/2 star experience for economy. I will use them again, I have not had my fill of Iceland. We arrived very early in the morning. Upon arrival we took a bus into the city of Reykjavik, where we were eventually dropped off very near our lodgings. Please note there were helpful people showing us where to go for the bus, and this is how most people get into Rekjavik from the airport. We rented a loft from Apt K, it was clean, spacious and wonderfully located right in the City Centre, it was the perfect location for us. We were able to walk the streets and explore at all times of the day and find absolutely everything we wanted or needed near by. We truly were in the heart of things… this made things a bit loud late at night as we were literally rooming above a bar—- but it was so wonderfully worth it!
Our days were spent exploring the many offerings of the city. We had a City Pass for several days which I highly recommend. The pass got us unlimited use of the city busses which are very clean, arrive often and have easy to use routes. Most of the museums were part of the pass as well so we were able to visit those we wanted, without any guilt for how long we chose to stay. Admissions to the museums would have added up very quickly, so this was a great benefit. There is a large variety of museums from Art to Archeology and History. We had several windy, rainy days which is typical for this time of year, so this was a perfect way to spend our time. There was so much to see, and the the museums are beautifully kept. Oddly they are not nearly as uptight in their spaces as we sometimes are in the US… there are guides present to help, but leave you to your own devices. AND there are always places geared to little ones, with hands on experiences. My favorite was the Culture House which had a sampling from several of the larger museums. There is a great deal to see and enjoy, and several have wonderful little cafes in them (though check the times they are open!)
Being in the City Centre there were plenty of restaurant choices with many price points. Let may say that food is expensive, but honestly it is not much more than when i have traveled to New York or even much of Chicago as a tourist. There simply isn't any "fast food" chains, not really a bad thing. Oh, there is a Subway! But please know that the Bonus grocery store is a wonderful asset, and a delightful adventure all it's own. In Iceland their grocery stores are set up very differently than those in the States; refrigerated rooms instead of cases! We had a favorite place, Brennslan’s that we ate at several times because they had some of the best waffles ever! There is a photo below.
We were able to easily walk to the Reykjavik Cathedral, Hallgrímskirkja which was very beautiful. Go early, around 9am as it gets very busy there as the day goes on. We also walked to the concert hall several times, I simply fell in love with it. There is a free shuttle to the Perlan that leaves from the Music Hall every 30 minutes. The Perlan has a wonderful 360 degree observation deck where you can take pictures. Admission to the deck is about $5 and well worth it! Several of the pictures that are in this album were taken from there! AND they had incredible ice cream in their small cafe on the upper floor! Yes ice cream is a Must in Iceland--- a national treasure actually. The best ice cream we had came from Valdis’ in the Old Harbour district, it was amazing— loads of interesting flavors. Crazy how many people stand in the cold eating their ice cream… i guess cold is relative (grin)
The two streets Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur are filled with wonderful shops of all kinds, classic souvenirs as well as art, crafts, yarn and jewelry. I should mention they have the Most amazing yarn high quality beautiful colors. My daughter is an avid knitter, it was almost more than she could stand (grin). It is a feast for your eyes! But, the thing i loved most of all was the incredible street art that was everywhere on these streets. I have a album on my 2STARaRt FB page showing you some of my favorites. Never fear just walking these streets you are sure to see much of it if you are paying attention, it is a feast for your eyes.
I think we chose the perfect time of year for our first visit. It was around 35 F most days, though of course got colder at night. Even though it rained quite a bit, it often did not last long and the sun would peek out. It is very important to have warm waterproof boots and a warm waterproof coat, hats and gloves are a must, and a scarf is a very good thing. Oh, AND we were there just before the end of the Northern Lights Season! We saw them, they were amazing... i cried. We also did some daytrip tours that were wonderful, but that is a whole other blog.
Finally, i want to say i was truly amazed by how clean the city is, the streets and sidewalks were trash free. The shop owners and people in general were all very kind and helpful. Perhaps even more importantly we felt very SAFE, walking around at all times of the day and evenings... never once did we worry in the least! It is very gratifying to walk freely around a place you do not know well, and feel safe. THis was a Big leap for my daughter and i, and we really did have an amazing time. Happymaking Indeed!