I figure a few weeks out from my trip was high time to finally start writing about my time there.
To start with, it was amazing. What little I saw of the country has it ranked as the prettiest, most surreal place on earth. With some of the nicest people too. Honestly.
This post is going to be about Thursday, our first day, in Reykjavik. At the end, there’ll be short reviews of the airline and the hostel.
Of course, I didn’t sleep on the flight to Reykjavik, because despite it being a red eye, it was only around 1:30 a.m. EST when we landed at KEF. Iceland doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings/European Summer Time, so the time difference was only 4 hours. We pre-booked our fly- bus from the airport to the hostel which saved us a few bucks, but more importantly was just a serious convenience. That bus took us to the bus terminal and we hopped on a smaller bus to get dropped off at our hostel – most of downtown Reykjavik is too small for the full sized buses. We immediately dropped our bags, used the WC and went on a hunt for coffee and food.
A few minutes of wandering took us to The Laundromat café. Which is actually both a Laundromat and a café and probably a bit touristy. But, we were starved. And the food was delicious and, for the spot, reasonably priced (we accepted NYC level prices early on.) Then we made our way back to the hostel to sit in the lounge for a bit before eventually wandering around and making our way to Hallgrímskirkja for our I Heart Reykjavik walking tour.
I Heart Reykjavik
We were definitely the most exhausted of the bunch seeing as we had only been in the country for 5 or so hours, but the tour wound up being a great way to combat our jetlag. Auður keeps the number of people in the tour to under 12, asks what everyone is interested in hearing about (I think I was the only one to raise my hand when she asked if any of us drink… and I did it maybe a little enthusiastically) and will field any questions you have during the tour. Basically, I still can’t say her name, but she rules. Seriously. The tour was about two hours long and it covered everything that we could have wanted. Hidden gardens, the best coffee, the local cats and some delicious places to get food.
Getting to see so much of downtown, getting our bearings and getting local knowledge about where to get our grub on proved invaluable. 10/10 would recommend taking one of her tours should you ever go to Reykjavik, and preferably early on in your stay. The only recommendation from Auður that we intended to hit up but didn’t was the café/bar at Loft Hostel, a “sister” hostel to our own.
The rest of Thursday was frankly, a blur. We sat in a square for a bit, biding time so it would be closer to our hostel’s 2 p.m. check-in. We headed back early and wound up being able to check in around 1 p.m. which was perfect for a powernap. Post powernap I left my water bottle places more times than I can count and found the lopapeysa of my dreams (green! Probably accidental skulls!) We stopped by Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, because obviously it was necessary to try the town’s best hotdogs. They were on No Reservations and I do like to try new things when I travel. So lamb hot dogs were obviously on the list. I’m not really one for hot dogs, but these served as a quick and cheap meal and were pretty delicious. America needs to step up their hot dog game. Then it was more or less a beer and then early to bed.
As for the quickie reviews:
- Wow Air is definitely a budget service and you have to pay for virtually everything on the plane. Water included. But I flew round trip (2766 miles x 2) for less than it would have been for me to fly home from Charlotte, SC (447 miles) on a Sunday. One way. At any time that wasn’t 6 a.m. So needless to say, I think we made the right choice of airline. We did have to fly out of BWI rather than PHL and out of probably the worst terminal at BWI, but at significantly under $500 for the round trip flight, it was well worth the extra drive. Pro-tip: consider pre-booking your specific seats. My friend and I both booked aisle seats for both flights, one in front of the other, which worked out well for us. That said, I am partial to aisle seats on long flights. We also both upgraded our carry-on to the 12 kg limit (which is a little under 27 lbs.)
- Reykjavik Downtown Hostel was our final decision on where to stay. It’s highly rated on hotselworld.com (9.1) and was the cheapest of our centrally located options. We opted for it because of the price and location. It really is downtown and was conveniently located to everything we’d wanted to do. The room (a 10 person mixed dorm) was super clean, the beds were passably comfortable and the ever-changing roommates and all of the staff were very nice. There was a kitchen building out back (with the option of sharing food!) And everything was incredibly safe. We’d inquired about purchasing locks for our lockers, but the girl at the desk said people rarely do and they’ve never had a incident. So we saved ourselves a couple of bucks and decided to forgo the locks. I’d definitely stay there again.
Part 2 : party like a local, will be up soon.