Sunday, 26 March 2017 _ What up Iceland!
After a smooth 8 ½ hour, direct, red eye flight, Deb and I arrived in Iceland at 4:10am. One nice perk of the flight was the fact that the Northern Lights were visible in flight. Unfortunately, it was not on the side of the plane we were sat on and we didn’t feel like dealing with the calamity, so we missed out.
After arrival, customs were extremely easy with a quick ‘how long are you staying’ and a stamp of the passport. This probably was in part due to the fact that it was incredibly early in the morning, but I imagine it would’ve been quick regardless. After customs, the airport routed us through the Duty Free store, which was an ideal place to pick up alcohol as there are significanttaxes on alcohol in Iceland. For transportation around Iceland, we chose to rent a car for our trip, which we reserved ahead of time through Budget / Payless. The pick-up kiosk was located at the airport and the Volkswagen Gulf was located onsite. It was a bit of a lengthy check-out process, but the information was good to know. During peak hours, I could see this taking a long time, i.e. 2 hrs +. We rented a GPS along with the car and they threw in a portable Wi-Fi hotspot with it. The GPS ceased to work after the first day, but the hotspot was pretty invaluable and highly recommended as we could use our phones anywhere the entire time. Additionally, Deb was able to use her iPhone there through her Verizon plan for $10 / day.
After we scooped our rental car, we made the 40-minute drive to downtown Reykjavik and stopped in our hotel, Hotel Odinsve (hotelodinsve.is), to see if we could check in early. As our room was not ready, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel at Snaps Restaurant. For someone that loves food, this was one of the best introductions to Icelandic cuisine that I could have imagined. The buffet was so good in fact, that I am nicknaming it, ‘The Buffet of Dreams!’ More on that later.
To further kill some time, we walked around downtown Reykjavik for a couple hours, checking out the various sights and murals throughout the city. We also went to a public pool / hot tub location (phenomenal water slide) and stopped at the local mall. Thankfully our room was ready just about the time I hit the jetlag wall. We checked in and grabbed some shut-eye for a few hours before getting ready to see what the night life was like in Reykjavik. With no overly specific agenda, we headed out to wander the streets of Reykjavik. We first stumbled upon Harpa, Reykjavik’s cultural and social center. It was located on the water and architecturally very impressive. After that, we continued along the harbor to check out a Viking ship sculpture, which ended up being more contemporary than I would have imagined. Looking for a break from the cold, we stopped in Micro Bar and sampled a flight of local beers. Then, we made it as far as next door to a place called Saeta Svinid Gastropub for some food and drinks.
Finally we finished up the night at Sakebarinn (sakebarinn.is) for some sushi and you guessed it, drinks.