Iceland is truly a magickal country. Jenny and I have never quite felt a draw to a place like we did when we were there. I’ve long felt a connection to the Norse traditions, and so never wanted so badly to belong somewhere, which of course only heightened the experience of feeling like an outsider…

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Still we personally found the city of Reykjavik to be incredibly welcoming (plus nearly everyone speaks English), if not somewhat on the expensive side (kinda like New York prices and then some). We’d booked our flight on WOW Airlines which offers some very competitive rates (to many places beyond Iceland as well), particularly if you fly in their off season, so getting there was fairly inexpensive (even though you need to travel light…). Still, nearly everything in that country needs to be flown in, so it only makes sense everything would be pricier. To put this in perspective, in certain grocery stores you can expect to pay around 700 kronars (that’s in the ballpark of $7) for a quart of OJ. So… fair warning…

We mostly bought groceries, and ate out infrequently (you can easily spend $100 on dinner for two eating out in Reykjavik) and we found that the Krónan chain of grocery stores generally had the best prices (though the  ‎Bónus or 10/11 chains are also fine, and they’re all kinda everywhere…). One thing that made me quite happy was learning how relatively cheap (and fantastic) the lamb of that country is. As is horse, though I couldn’t quite bring myself to buy a big slab of that…

Jenny and I usually book accommodations on Air BNB and as luck would have it, the place she found not only was in an incredibly prime location (at quite a fair rate to boot), but the home ended up being owned by one Arngrímur Sigurðsson, a local Icelandic artist, and creator of the Museum of Hidden Beings which is a book of local folklore and creature sightings. We made sure to pick up a copy of his book,  which unfortunately looks like you can’t get here in the States, so far as I could find…

It’s also worth talking a little bit about the country’s water. The hot water you get from the faucet is all geothermal, so while it does carry with it the odor of sulfur, (which is far from my favorite smell), even this wasn’t all that unpleasant. In fact, you are essentially bathing in mineral water, and we both notices some very therapeutic results for our skin after a few showers. Now, the cold water is sulfur-free (just be sure to run the tap for a few seconds) and I’m telling you, is better than most bottled water you can get in the States. That’s mostly all I drank while I was there (so refreshing) and man… the coffee you can make there (which Icelanders also pride themselves on) with that crisp clean water is awesome.

Reykjavik is a fairly small, and very “walkable” city… but as luck would have it, Arngrímur’s place was just two blocks away from the famous Hallgrimskirkja Church and is more or less in the center of “The Neighborhood of the Gods”.


All the neighboring streets are named for gods of Norse mythology. Our street was named for Thor, while all around us were streets named for Odin, Tyr, and Baldur. I was in love…


After a bit of wandering around, we managed for find the Flea Market which is one place you can find some pretty good deals if you do a bit of poking around. Jenny found a rabbit fur handbag for $8, and I got a really nice wool scarf for $20 (which as it was cold, windy, and rainy almost every day I was quite thankful to have purchased). We also met a local jeweler there who makes pieces from materials like teeth, bone, and other natural materials. We were quite taken with his work and each picked up a very cool piece of his to take home.

The rainy/cloudy weather the entire week did mean we didn’t get to see the Northern Lights while we were there (even though we did take a bus out of the city with a tour group to try). So, seeing the Northern Lights is still on my bucket list, but I guess that just means I have to be serious about another trip back sometime…

Anyway, Reykjavik is also full of some very cool street art, which was also quite helpful as landmarks to know if you’ve been in that part of town already. There are also parts of the city where graffiti is actually encouraged.

img_2440 img_2428

We definitely wanted to spend some time in a museum, particularly one with Viking artifacts and the like. Browsing some brochures it looked like the Saga Museum was going to be up my alley for this… I wish I’d done my homework a bit better.

While it’s not fair to complain that it wasn’t a “museum” museum, since I’m sure I was mixing this place up for another I’d seen, for $20 a person for what really amounted to just a small wax museum depicting major persons/scenes from Iceland’s history, it was kind of a let down. The displays were very well done (and we were both quite taken with the famous seer Þorbjörg lítilvölva), but there were only about a dozen and a half vignettes total, so were were through the entire place in very little time.


Þorbjörg lítilvölva

I’m loathe to actually call this place a “tourist trap” as it more or less was what they say it is… and their gift shop did have a few cool things I didn’t see elsewhere (bone dice!!!), but if you’re hoping to walk around a huge, well-lit museum viewing actual historical Viking artifacts (and reading about their histories for hours on end), be forewarned, the Saga Museum is not that kind of place.

One of the major highlights of the trip was actually a gift my sister had given us for Christmas, which was a horseback riding tour through trails that wind through ancient moss-covered lava fields and around ancient stone piles Viking explorers had left over a thousand years ago. We booked this tour with Hraunhestar, who as an organization we liked very much, not just for how friendly everyone who works there was, but also with how well their horses were treated. They also offer smaller group tours, which means longer actual riding time. As luck would again have it, Jenny and I were the only people booked with them that day, so we had the tour guide all to our self.

Regrettably, I was too busy controlling my Viking-blooded steed to actually take any pictures of the breathtaking landscape as we rode around, but it was like stepping back in time for me. Our horses were even of the same genetic stock as the animals the Viking settlers had brought with them as early as the 10th century (and this breed even possesses a unique fifth gait which is aptly suited for traversing uneven terrain). That day was one for the books…

Now, while we did try to keep our food costs down during the trip (and I’ve developed a real love of Skyr because if it, which thankfully you can get in the States) we did eat out a few times during our week in Reykjavik, and while we always absolutely loved the food there (including our multiple hot dog experiences), there were a few meals that definitely stood out.

Our first evening out, we went to Kol which was a very relaxed but upscale place. I had the lamb sirloin (my first of many lamb dishes) which knocked my socks off, and Jenny enjoyed what she declared to be the best bowl of mussels she’d ever had. And she grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so you know she knows her seafood. And we got the potatoes fried in duck fat along with two local beers… ridiculously delicious… and pricey… what you see here was around $120, but gratuity is included with the price of the meal… and we were on vacation. img_2423

But as Jenny was determined to “eat her way across Iceland” her quest wouldn’t have been satisfied without trying a local delicacy… so our next trip out we hit Cafe Loki and Jenny got herself some fermented shark. I tried a small piece just to try it, and nope for me, but Jenny loved it. She actually surprised our server as being the first customer she’d ever had to actually enjoy “rotten shark” as it is sometimes billed. That’s my wife.


But our search would not have been complete without knocking a few more off the list. While we didn’t ultimately end up eating any horse on this trip, on our last evening in Reykjavik we hit Sæta Svínið Gastropub and while I “settled” for an amazing rack of lamb, Jenny went ahead and got the minke whale and a side of smoked puffin… both which she liked very much (and upon sampling them myself I also found them quite intriguing). Polished off with a Viking stout and it was an amazing meal to end an amazing trip with.

Now, this all was more of a “travel guide” take on our trip to Iceland. Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the esoteric side of our experience there…


Friday 11/25/16-

Sun: Sagittarius-

Moon: Libra-

For my disclosure on this or any of my post or pages… please visit my Disclosure page.

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