Places I visited
Museums: National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik Art Museum / Hafnarhús, The Settlement Exhibition
Sights: Reykjanes Folkvangur & Geldingadalur, Krísuvíkurbjarg, Kleifarvatn, The Lava Tunnel, Blue Lagoon, Reykjanestá, Elding Whale Watching, Þúfa – Listaverk eftir Ólöfu Nordal, Tjörnin, Aurora Reykjavik, Sun Voyager
Bars: Lebowski Bar, Fredriksen Ale House, Lemmý, Apótek Bar Grill, The Drunk Rabbit, Hressingarskálinn
Restaurants: Café Babalú, KOL, Fjallkonan, Tapas Barinn, Te & Kaffi, Grái Kötturinn, Bastard Brew and Food
Points of Interest: Sundhöll Reykjavíkur, Old Bicycle Shop
Shopping: Spútnik, Lundinn – The Puffin, Icemart, The Viking
I flew direct to Reykjavík on a 3:50 PM flight on the 29th that landed at 6:15 AM on the 30th, which was a 7.5 hour flight. I spent 750K miles on the flight than another 30K to get upgraded to 1st class, which on the outbound flight was not great since the place was smaller and 1st class just felt like business class. The food on the way over was good as was the service at least, but the I had a bulkhead seat and was unable to stretch out and the seat didn’t recline like normal 1st class ones, so I didn’t end up sleeping at all. Once I got the airport, which is about an hour from Reykjavík, it was deserted but that make getting a quick breakfast easy. I booked a bus at the airport to and got to the city about 8AM, which was also deserted and I couldn’t drop my bags off at my Air B&B till 10AM and check-in till 2AM. I found a tea and coffee shop (or “Te & Kaffi” there) and had a drink & snack and read for about two hours. I then went to the B&B (The Old Bicycle Shop) to drop my bag off in the “library” and walked around Reykjavík for the next few hours, got lunch, then went back to B&B about 1PM to just rest on the couch but my room was ready by then so I napped for a bit in my little suite. Then I got up to go to the local hot spring pools complex Sundhöll Reykjavíkur and soaked there for about an hour or two. After I walked around more at night and got some food but was mostly in a zombie state from lack of sleep. “Night” is really from about 4PM until 11AM at this time of the winter and the Sun never “rises” but goes across the horizon for about 4 hours. That evening I had booked a Northern Lights tour, where they pick up in a van and drive about 45 minutes outside the city away from the lights with hopes to see them. Sadly the solar activity has been low lately and there were also clouds mostly, so I did not see the Northern Lights (at all while in Iceland, but did get to see them on the plane over and they were filling the sky then!).
The next day (12/31) I got food at one of my two would become my go to places for breakfast, then went to the BSI bus terminal about 15 minutes away, by foot, where most tours left from. In Reykjavík I took rental scooters around if where I was going was more than ½ mile away (most things weren’t). At 9AM I got picked up and driven about 30 minutes to “The Lava Tunnel”, which was about a ½ mile walk through a lava tube. All of Iceland is volcanic lava that formed the island 10s of millions of years ago. On this tour they told us some facts about the tube we were in an Iceland’s formation in general, the various layers of rock, and that sometimes the end platform is used for events even. The tube continued another few miles we were told, but that’s a different tour to go back in that far where the path is as groomed for tourist. That evening, feeling a bit more awake I got good and went to a couple of bars on my list to check out to get a beer. Due to COVID all places were limited to 20 people in a room at a time and most bar service was closed, you had to sit at a table and come to the bar to order a beer, and pretty much everything closed about 9PM. Always EVERYONE wore a KN95 mask when indoor and most worn one when outside too, it did help keep you warmer. The entire week I was here the highs in the mid-30s to low-40s and lows just below freezing, in general it wasn’t that bad except for two days when the wind was REALLY blowing HARD. Every day I spent a good amount of time just watching around, mainly to get a tea, snack, or just to get to museum of tour I had booked. I went to the Lebowski bar for a few drinks before heading out further for NYE night.
For NYE night I was told to go to highest hill in the city, where the Perlan attraction (I didn’t get to this) is, so about 11:30 PM I got on a scooter and road the about 2 miles. Most the evening there were fireworks going off pretty often, but as midnight approached the got near constant and by midnight they were going off in all directions all over the city all around! This continued for about an hour, I left about 12:15 and road around the city and you could see in each square and open space people still gathered and fireworks debris. The next day I did mainly walked around the city, since museums and many other things were closed. I did do the Aurora Reykjavik, which is basically a science exhibit about the northern lights with a theater with recordings from all over Iceland of different outstanding nights of them.
On the 2nd was the all day Reykjanes and Fagradalsfjall tour, where we drove about an hour to the Fagradalsfjall volcano. On the way we made two stops, one to look at a large lake (inside an old caldera) and the old “Black Church.” This is the volcano that started erupting in March 2021 with a huge lava flow and this continued until May, but by June the lava flow had slowed way down and was mostly below the crust. But here is some outstanding drone footage from March (Footage of it crashing into the lava river). The entire valley that you see the lava flowing into filled up completely (about 300’ deep we were told), so it now looks like this with steam\smoke coming out of it still. It was about a 45 minute hike to get to the lava flow, which you can walk on. Going to an active volcano was on my bucket list so I can cross this one off, but I WILL be going back to Iceland again (maybe in Sept 2022) and if this or another volcano erupts giving off such a spectacular show as this one did back in March till May last year! After the volcano we went to the cost where you could clearly see old lava flows breaking off into the see and some great wave action. We then went to an area with multiple steam vents and hiked around them for a bit. Then we went to where the North American and Eurasian Plates are spreading apart, with the gap filled with black sand. The final stop on this OUTSTANDING day trip was the Blue Lagoon. This was a huge hot springs, where the water varies in temperature based on where you are at in the many large connected pools. We spent about 2.5 hours here and I could have spent more time! That evening I had dinner at Fjallkonan, which was one of four must do restaurants on my list (I got to all four) and I even took a picture of the food. The food in Iceland was outstanding, tasted great and the presentation was five stars (at least at the very nice places I went to).’
The next day (1/3) started off at my other breakfast place, Sandholt, with lots of lovely pastries and breads, after that I did museums. The 1st was the Settlement Exhibition that focused on earliest remining structures from 871 (+/1 2 years). Then I went to Iceland Punk Museum that focused on Icelandic punk band history, and some of punk in general. It’s in an old public bathroom area below ground, where each stall has some history written up and pictures on the walls. Next was the Reykjavík Art Museum, which had a lot of cool modern art. Then was the Saga Museum which had the story of Iceland told with “wax” statues that looked so real.
On the 4th I meet up with my friend Jill and her mom, who flew in that morning for a five day “bucket list” item for her mom. After they checked in, which they got to do at 8AM, and got a nap in we did shopping around town, had a good lunch, and went to the Lebowski bar for drinks. That evening we had reservations to taka boat out to see the northern lights, but unfortunately it was cloudy and low solar activity again (this whole week). The next day I had a 5:15 PM flight back home, connecting in Boston. The day before I got my required COVID test, which was quick and easy to do all of the city for free and you got results in about 30 minutes via email. I got the airport about 3PM and was at the gate by 3:30, but the plane had mechanical issue and ended up being delayed by 45 minutes which cut my connection time in Boston down to an hour. The good news was the plane was much bigger and 1st class much nicer, which I had a lot gotten upgrade to. So the 5.5 hour flight to Boston was nice and I got a little nap in too. Connecting in Boston sucked, you had to get your baggage, go through customs in one terminal, then haul your baggage to the other terminal though the bowels of it then back up to check-in again on the domestic flight. I got to the gate just as they were boarding.
This was an outstanding trip and I’m disappointed I didn’t do it sooner or back in May, but I WILL be going back, maybe as soon as Sept 2022 to tour the entire island this time.