24 hours in Reykjavik (the 2017 Reykjavik trip)
There are no direct flights from the Faroe Islands to the United States. So, I flew to Reykjavik late in the afternoon on a Tuesday on Atlantic Airways, spent a night at the cute Icelandair Hotel Marina and had about 24 hours in the city I was so charmed by on my first visit in 2015.
A quick review of the Marina hotel: the rooms are compact but clean, contemporary, cute, and relaxing. You're not in Reykjavik to sit in your room so it doesn't need to be huge or fancy anyway. The hotel was pretty quiet and my room was on a main street but it was pretty quiet. There was actually a bar across the street from my room but I didn't hear a peep. The hotel also has a bar, restaurant, cafe, a compact gym with a lot to offer, and is a pickup point for the Reykjavik Excursions flybus and tours.
I still find the city equally as charming, if not more so because I know the lay of the land and have a few favorite spots. But, something is a bit different every time. Every time I go, there are more tourists. I can't be sad about this, the world deserves to experience beautiful Iceland. But damn Wow Airlines and their super cheap flights from the United States. Everywhere I turned there were Americans and it was such a jolt from being in the Faroe Islands where I only met two Americans the entire time.
I don't dislike my own country or fellow citizens but it kind of makes me sad when something becomes very popular. The way it feels to me is like when you find a band you really love and they're not that popular or well-known. Then, the band's popularity suddenly explodes and everyone is listening to them and they become kind of mainstream and you feel like your little secret band is no longer special or you're actually tired of them. I'm not tired of Iceland (never!), but I liked the quietness of the city in 2015 as opposed to throngs of summer tourists I encountered this time. Next time I go it will be in late fall or winter so I can see what it is like and finally see the Northern Lights.
So other than Reykjavik just stirring up so many different emotions in me - because I was so happy to be back but a little sad to see it had grown up a bit, I did wander the streets and did a little shopping, dining, and drinking. I hit up spots I had not been able to go to previously.
Reykjavik Roasters - I've been following/fangirling this place since 2015 and finally made it. I had a delicious and small chia pudding and an almond milk latte here (breakfast number one). They offer coffee and a few breakfast items. They are open until 3 in the afternoon. Prices are reasonable.
Sandholt Bakery - full menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffees, pastries, and fresh bread. I had a pastry and a cappuccino here and a coffee to go because it was freezing and I needed a handwarmer and wanted to stay awake all day.
Mikkeller and Friends Reykjavik - Duh. I actually got there before they opened because I was so excited, then I had to kill about 25 minutes so I walked around and revisited a few sites I'd seen before. It was nice to see the same shops and cafes were still open. I sat at the bar, tasted three delicious and different sours, and chatted with the knowledgeable and polite bartender and some Americans who had also been in Copenhagen prior to Iceland. There is a small food menu here and there's a delicious pizza place downstairs. The small menu offers a few items from the downstairs restaurant. I had the Parma ham on a warm rock which was so good.
Skuli Craft Bar - The bartender at Mikkeller sent me here, where I had two more tiny beers before I NEEDED to seek out some dinner. I chatted a bit with the bartender and an American from San Francisco who was very nice and only started chatting with me when he heard me order in English. The menu is a bit smaller than Mikkeller but just as interesting.and delicious. No food is served here but you're allowed to order food and bring it in, and they do have a handful of arcade games and apparently, some food trucks are soon to be outside of it.
Bryggjan Brugghus - A brewpub that was recommended to me by Skuli bartender and the American. I ate here after the beer marathon and I couldn't finish Bryggjan beer. I ordered their IPA but I was SO FULL. I'm sorry Bryggjan, it was so good but I literally felt like an overstuff balloon after all of the beer. In addition to the beer I ordered the salmon tartare, and seafood soup here and it was about $60 total. Yep. I saw the prices when I sat down but they were only serving for 15 more minutes because it was 10:45 so I had no choice. It was really good though and I have no regrets. I knew Reykjavik was going to be expensive. I'd normally say budget $100 a day but if you don't want to live off of hotdogs and you want to drink alcohol and coffee and maybe snacks, $150 is safe for food. That way there are just no worries about running out of money in case you get carried away more than once. On vacation, it is possible and one should at least once.
Places I still have not been to but want to to go: Dill (not open on Tuesdays or for lunch, sigh) Kex Hostel bar. I thought about going here but between Mikkeller and Skuli , I just could not. There's only so much beer that I can drink.
One last place that I browsed around and had another coffee (a triple espresso, good lord) was Eymundsson, a bookstore. I looked around here and chatted with an employee. I spotted a book that was the second in a memoir trilogy by an Icelandic author named Jon Gnarr. I asked him for help finding the first one in English. I started reading it in the shop while sipping my espresso and left feeling so excited to read it on the plane. I finished it quickly a few days after I got home and I immediately sought out a bookstore in Chicago that would order the second and third for me. I could have ordered it from Amazon, but I wanted to support a local store. Something about being abroad has done that to me or reminded me that it is good to do that.
SIDENOTE: the rest of my coffee saga. I had two more on the plane. I was cold and I wanted to stay awake, but that's 6 coffees in one day and that is a lot of coffee.. I ended up going to bed at 10 pm Chicago time after landing, getting my sweet dog from my sisters, visiting with him, unpacking, and starting all of my laundry. So, it seems there was a method to my accidental madness.
As mentioned previously, I cried a little when they stamped my passport at Keflavik for departing Iceland. Not flowing tears, but I had to wipe my eyes and fight really hard not to actually cry. I don't know what it is that I feel so strongly about in Iceland, but it is what it is, and I love it.