Iceland: First Impressions

4 Oct

Today I’m in Iceland, and its my first day of a four day trip. Tommorow I’ll be doing a tour with a glacier walk. Today, however, I spent time walking around Reykjavik after arriving from the airport.

Reykjavik isn’t up there with those famous European capitals, like Paris or Rome. It isn’t even as grand as the other nordic capitals from what I’ve heard. What it is, I can describe as a mishmash of different kinds of suburban environments: nordic style!

I have not visited any specific tourist sites yet, I am saving this for monday. But what I like about it is the colorful, if a little ramshackle charm its streets possess. One minute you’ll be crossing a busy main road. Next you’ll be on a touristy street with several backpacker hostels. Then you’ll escape to a quieter street. These quieter streets aren’t quiet enough to be dreary, but aren’t loud enough to be considered noisy. Every so often you’ll hear a car driving down the road or a stray cat mewing for attention, but only every once in a while.

Now, here’s my advice for visiting:

Don’t come here expecting the food to be cheap. A small pizza was about $19 USD. That’s much more expensive than the small pizzas back at home. A small cup of coffee will set you back $4. It sounds crazy but its true.

Despite the price, try some of the traditional icelandic foods at least once. I decided I was too eco-conscious to eat whale meat, but I ate guillemot breast. I ate it at a restaurant called thrir frakkar. It tasted like duck, but a little stronger. It costs about $30, but its worth it just once.

The bread at thrir frakkar is complemetary and very tasty.

Don’t be put off by your inital impressions of Reykjavik while driving in. It looked ugly and bland to me at first, but in the centre it is a lot nicer.

Also, take time to wander Reykjavik’s streets. I’m a huge fan of wandering city streets and Reykjavik is an interesting place for this.

One more tip: If you want to move around a lot or tour the country, rent a car. The buses are not frequent at all, even the city public bus routes. Most countries in Europe have much better public transportation than Iceland. I wish Iceland had trains, but it does not.

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