Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Reykjavik, Iceland - Day 1

Iceland - in recent years it has come to the top of everyone's radar.  What is the allure of this country?  We decided that it was our turn to come and find out.

We landed in darkness, but as we made out way from the airport, to the transfer bus, to the bus station, into a taxi, to the CampEasy rental office, and then finally into the city itself, the sunrise lit up the sky with a myriad of oranges and pinks.  Contrary to what I expected, Rekyjavik doesn't seem grey and dreary and buried in winter - it is bright and colourful.  Not showy about it; it's just sort of a presence that seems to permeate everything.

Our adventure started with getting to know our campervan.  This is a much larger and more robust home than our dear old 1997 from New Zealand (we don't have to stand outdoors to cook, and it has a heater at night).  The staff at CampEasy explained all of its features with detail and gave us many tips about traveling in Iceland during the winter, which we appreciated.

After that, we headed to the discount grocery store ("Bonus") and picked up some supplies for the next two weeks.  It was an interesting process, as most packages aren't labelled in English, so there was a lot of pulling out our phones to a) translate the prices (2900 krona?  is that a lot or a little?), and b) attempting to translate the contents of the packages.  In the end, we ended up with several things that we weren't a hundred percent sure of the contents, but they looked appetizing enough!

Then it was time to explore Reykjavik on foot (Jen has a habit of taking me on long walks in new cities immediately after we land in them, and of course this trip was no different).  Our target was Hallgrimskirkja, a beautiful Lutheran church that is the tallest structure in Iceland.  The views from the top showed off the city's beautiful painted homes, and the snow-covered mountains in the distance beckoned both of us.

There's something comfortingly familiar about Rekyjavik.  Maybe it's the fact that the weather when we landed was the same as what we had left back home.  Jen remarked, as we passed by some little tables outside of a cafe - "Only in Iceland - and in Canada! - would people think its reasonable to sit outisde on the patio in 3 degrees Celcius."
Street art on the side of a building

Or maybe it was the posters up in the church, advertising the upcoming Easter concert of Bach's St. Matthew's Passion.  It made me smile - some music truly is universal, no matter where on the planet you are.

The afternoon ended with an early dinner at Icelandic Fish and Chips, which was recommended to me by a friend.  This place serves local and organic food, and they really know what they are doing.  We had three choices of fish, so we chose Tusk and Cod, which they battered in spelt and deep fried perfectly.  Our side was rosemary fried potatoes, and we selected a sampler of delicate and delicious dips - a very tasty and complex tartar sauce, a surprisingly basil-infused garlic sauce, and a smartly paired lemon-and-dill sauce.  Yes, eating out in Iceland is expensive - but this meal was beyond worth it!

Tonight we are spending in a hostel, in order to ensure we get enough rest before taking to the Golden Circle tomorrow and starting our sleepervan life.  We've only just gotten a taste of Iceland, but those mountains we saw from the top of the church tower are calling.  There's a quiet depth here.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  I have a bit of writer's block, but it's probably also the jet l
ag.  Stay tuned - our adventure really starts tomorrow.

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