Unless you are living under a coconut tree on a beach in Brazil, sun shining and sweat dripping day in, day out – no one will believe you are craving to go to Iceland because you miss being chilled by some real -16° C and snow. This is the story of my last december trip from Hamburg, Germany to Reykjavík, Iceland. Real ice, on a beautiful piece of land glowing from inside (volcanoes). While happily shopping for functional, woolen underwear in Hamburg for the first time ever in my adult life, I have been constantly trying to limit my uber high expectations, which were all provoked by this, this and this. But let’s be honest – even in the not so recommended winter months in Iceland, when there are days of being stuck in the countryside during heavy snow storms or having your only bottle of water frozen to a Popsicle – you will be rewarded with some unbearably gorgeous real life stills of misty spheres and vast openness if you dare to leave the city behind.
But first things first: the flight to Reykjavík was the most relaxed one I ever had with a budget airline. WOW air took me from Berlin to the most northern capital in the world in less than three and a half hours and served me my first icelandic dish right on board: Flatkökur. The perfect wannabe-cake-but-actually-bread and I immediately loved its smoky taste. If you are interested in taking your Flatcake experience to a higher level, don’t hesitate to read this very holistic review on Icelandic industrial flatcakes here. Speaking of typical Icelandic dishes: no, I unfortunately was not brave enough to challenge neither the fermented shark, nor did I have the heart to eat one of these cute puffins. But my Icelandic friends I stayed with told me this was not necessarily a tradition anymore, since Icelandic cuisine developed a lot over the past decades – having native Icelanders prefering not to eat the very traditional food they still have to cope with due to childhood trauma. Well, I am feeling you!
I did very well sticking to Skyr instead, a delicious traditional yogurt (but naturally very low fat) with a well-known global ambassador: when Russell Crowe returned back home after filming the upcoming Aronofsky epic “Noah” in Iceland, he found himself addicted to the initially underestimated enchantment of Skyr, tweeting
“I seem to have left Iceland with an addiction to Skyr… can you buy it anywhere else in the world?”.
Make sure to get as much Skyr in your belly as you can – you will definitely miss it once you are back home! By the way: my favourite one was the Blueberry Skyr with a plastic spoon on top. Very handy while road tripping through the rural areas of southern Iceland. Just so you know!
Reykjavík put a spell on me from the very first sight. Curious to see all the places I knew from 101 Reykjavík and packed with lists of shops, cafés and adresses, I soon found out that the best way to get to know this city is to wander around the streets, cafés and adresses without any To-Do-Lists to stick to. Take this colourful city as it comes with all its corrugated colours and just don’t miss out on great live music and poetry at night. You are lucky to stay in the city which assembles the whole arts and culture scene of Iceland. I frequently visited two very handsome record stores in the city centre: LUCKY Records with a great vinyl selection and the well-known record label Smekkleysa (Bad Taste Record Store), founded by the world-famous Sugarcubes and having supported young Sigur Rós in their early career steps. Icelandic music production is bursting of ambitious talents with appealing quality and creativity. The so-called “Krútt” (Icelandic for “cute”) generation refers to a supposedly “typical” Icelandic approach and covers bands like Sigur Rós, múm and the freshly succesful singer-songwriter Ásgeir who just released his first English LP in Germany, the UK and France. I was lucky to see some of Icelands promising new and established music projects live, including the sophisticated, acid-new-wave-diamond Sometime.If you have the chance, book a flight soon and take part in one of the best music festivals in the world, Sónar Reykjavík. If you need some inspiration for the spare time between the music acts, read about our other Reykjavík hot spots in “Reykjavík Day and Night”.
Visiting Iceland also means you have to at least once try out one of the famous hot pots. If you cannot make it to Blue Lagoon (yes, it is crowded, but you will not want to miss this volcano experience!), don’t miss out on Laugarvatn, a lake with three hot springs not far from Reykjavík, based right in the Golden Cirlce (means it has some more historic sites around it which are worth a visit). I assure you: it is a magnificent feeling when your body is floating in a coziness of 36 ° C, while your head and face are out in the cold. Before you leave, make sure you watched a film at Bíó Paradís, the most popular arthouse movie theatre in Iceland which is also one of the hosts to the Reykjavík International Film Festival. Saying goodbye to Iceland is the hardest part after you fell in love with the mountains, the horses, the people, the colours. I will definitely come back, and so should you – with best recommendations from SILKsofine.