The time has come for my short stay in Iceland to come to a close. I am very grateful for the experience to be able to visit such an amazing country and to learn so much about this elusive island. In departing I thought I might just post a short overview of the things I saw, the people I met, and the food I enjoyed! So mixed in with my thoughts, I will try to add pictures of what I saw in Reykjavik (relative or not).
The first day I was very fortunate to meet a couple of friendly Canadian girls stopping over in Iceland (and a few other places) before heading to their study abroad in Amsterdam. They noticed that I was traveling alone and immediately adopted me into their itinerary. This outright kindness gave me all sorts of confidence in going forward on my travels. Knowing that people will respond positively to this kind of gregariousness helped me understand how best to travel alone (and eventually not really alone).
Knowing this, over the course of my stay, I took every opportunity in the hostel to say hello to people in communal spaces like the kitchen and downstairs bar. This resulted in not only meeting people from other countries, but also people from the U.S., Washington, and even my same neighborhood in Bellingham! No joke, I met a girl that is almost exactly one block away from my parents house. I meet people who lived in countries that I will eventually visit and they were more than happy to exchange info and promised to show me around when I was in town. I joked with my Canadian friends and newly found Frenchmen that we need to do a reunion trip because we all had so much fun together! And now I have friends in France!
The nightlife here is great fun! It was great meeting people in the hostel, sharing a round of beers then heading to the late night happy hours at the local bar. Then, if you’re feeling that buzz and want to keep going you can literally dance the night away.
Clubs here stay open until 5 am! Sometimes even 7 if you want to make bad decisions… But it’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun!
As far as food goes, I unfortunately didn’t get to try as much as I would’ve liked. Should I go back to Reykjavik, food will be a priority! Of the food I did try, however, it was all good! The thing that everyone talked about in the hostel of course were the hotdogs. For budget travel, these wieners are honestly the best option. If I had been wearing my blogging-cap I would’ve taken a picture of the hotdog without my kooky face in the picture, but nonetheless I can describe them to you. It’s your basic hotdog but with both fried (like uber crispy) and raw onions, ketchup, remoulade, and a hotdog specific mustard that you find nowhere else but on hotdogs. In one word: amazeballs.
Another tasty Icelandic treat was the “meat soup”. Though vaguely nondescript, the soup contains lamb, potatoes, onions, carrots and other common stew-like vegetables in a sort of vegetable beef broth. You can generally find it for relatively cheap (for Iceland) at around 1600k or $10-$15. A lot for Americans to pay for soup, but not bad all things considered. I also tried a friend’s mashed fish and it was quite tasty! Basically tasted like egg salad but with fish added.
Though I will say, in regard to the picture above, shortly after it was taken I got a “talking to” by the cafe owner for bringing in my own food. While a simple “we prefer you not bring in outside food or drink” would have sufficed, this woman went on a good 2 minute rant about how other places would’ve escorted me out and other nonsense. A bit unnecessary since I clearly didn’t know better and wasn’t from the area. But apparently courtesy is defined differently in other languages.
Things I didn’t try but wish I had were the fermented shark (whose skin is actually poisonous which is why it is fermented), dried catfish with butter, Brennivan’s (caraway schnapps, usually used to wash the taste of fermented shark out of your mouth) and smoked lamb or lamb dishes in general.
As far as beer goes, anything you can get that is affordable is disgusting. When on my walking tour, I asked the guide where to get good Icelandic beer and he gave me good suggestions but I didn’t have enough time or money to go back and give them a try. Coming from a snobby beer city, this beverage was an essential part of my tourism here and I was a little let down. What was served in my hostel was called Viking Lite and Viking Classic. Both made me want to throw up a little when drinking them. Not pleasant. When I talked to my fellow pacific northwestern friend he described the taste of Viking Lite as follows: “It tasted like Natty Ice and Bud Light banged and had a baby”. So yeah. Not great.
So, while I was in Iceland I drank, I ate, I danced, I blue lagooned, I slept, I toured, I talked (maybe too much), I blogged. I had a great time!
It blows my mind because it seems the more you see of the world, the smaller it gets. And I can’t wait for the whole world to feel like my backyard. Here we go London, here we go!