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Destinations, Europe

Seeing and Eating my way through Reykjavik (more eating)

July 6, 2015 • By

When I packed my Lululemon yoga pants for the trip, I anticipated wearing them on the hiking excursions I would be taking but since I am solo and have been partaking in private and group tours, they are currently being utilized for the expandable ahem elastic waistband needed after a absolutely delicious meal in Reykjavik.

No one told me I would encounter such beauty, such color, and such lingering impressions of the FOOD in Iceland. There wasn’t one guidebook or blog that suggested I would need to apply to Weight Watchers or Atkins upon my re-entry into the United States. Enough about my problems, let me share with you how I have been eating and seeing my way through Iceland.

Editor’s Advice: Don’t shy away from local food such as whale, puffin and lamb soup.  To experience a foreign land is one thing; to get to know it through its food is quite another.

Enjoy Fredrik 5, Laugavegi for a surprise tasting menu with wine pairings. My three-course overindulgence included an Icelandic favorite of dried codfish, skyr (similar to thick yogurt) accompanied by fresh warm kale and sun-dried tomato bread, a fish serving with cod and lobster and finally lamb and a side of shepherd’s pie. My dessert consisted of edible flowers with a chocolate sensation to cure any sugar craving.

For a quickie informal lunch don’t miss Sea Barron at the old harbor, Geirsgata 8. Taste any of the skewers of whale, salmon, shrimp and scallops but definitely don’t miss their famous lobster soup a salty, wonder of warmth to fill your cravings.

Yearning for a hipster scene? Look no further than Snaps, Þórsgata 1. My friends spotted Björk here in November. I was not so lucky but on July 4 I did meet a fellow American avoiding life for a while, which is always fun. Savor the mussels and find a soup spoon to enjoy the sauce. Slurp away because you cannot waste one bite. Try the lemon tart and select a local beer like Einstok Pale Ale to quench your thirst. The food is delicious and the atmosphere makes you feel like you tried a “cool” place.

Fantasy Aisle

Trying the Mussels

 

Dinner with a view you ask? Then my answer is Kopar, Geirsgötu 3.  Order the tasting menu or do it yourself with fancy seafood, salads and oooohhh the bread and butter.  I recommend the cod and cheese-laden potatoes and don’t stick your nose up at the horse sampling.  It’s worth a taste–a few bites at least. In texture, it’s like rare tuna and the flavor is fine but I did possibly imagine an after taste and washed it down with a sauvignon blanc just in case.  f you have room for dessert, I suggest the caramel heaven sampler, my server’s favorite and mine too.

For a quickie, go once, twice, maybe even three times to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Austurströnd 3.  My dislike of onions prevented me from the sampling the works but I ordered up the rest of the fixings, which includes mustard and a special sauce. Who needs pork or beef when you can have a lamb dog? It’s the only way to go in Iceland.

Fantasy aisle

Lamb Hot Dogs

For real fish and chips, I ventured into Fish Restaurant Reykjavik, Ingolfsstraeti 8, & Skolavoroustig 23. It’s a bit more of a do it yourself but the fish was fresh and after a few hours pounding the streets of Reykjavik, it’s worth a quick stop.

Visit Old Iceland Restaurant, Laugavegur 72 for a quaint surprise. I happened upon this place as it looked inviting and an escape from the rain. In need of some veggies, I ordered the salad with mixed greens and Camembert cheese and the special “ling” fish of the day. Wow! The fish was cooked to perfection and the sun dried tomato and pesto dashes of flavor made this one of my favorite meals in Reykjavik. It was so good I shared the bottle of wine I ordered with my neighbors from the UK and then ordered “mom’s rhubarb cake,” which is nothing like my mother has ever baked out of a box or by scratch. It was more like a fresh bar of savory flavor  and granola oats with real whipped cream. Back to the Spandex.

Fantasy Aisle

Mouthwatering I could have had a second

Go hungry! For my last night in Reykjavik, I followed my friend’s recommendation to try Grill Market.  You can follow the tasting menu or order off the menu.  As a solo diner, I opted for two appetizers the Minke Whale Steak, Puffin (local bird) and Lobster mini burgers, followed by lamb skewers and a main course of cod.  Lastly, I convinced myself since it was my last night and I must go out with a bang (or sick to my stomach) and order dessert. My server persuaded me to try the chocolate lovers ecstasy made with mascarpone sabayone, hot caramel sauce, coffee ice cream, rice crispies, and whip cream.  Indeed, it’s now on my top five list of sweet treats, a very coveted and most caloric specific list.

It’s possible the Red Cross is based in Iceland not for the natural disasters like the earthquakes and volcanoes but to rescue me from eating.  I noticed a freighter coming into port today.

For those needing a cafe kick, I highly recommend Reykjavik Roasters Kárastígur 1 to stay or to go and Cafe Paris, Austurstræti 14 for the leisurely coffee or tea drinker.

Need some 80s music and a lively environment, try English pub on a Friday or Saturday and for a special treat. Check out what’s happening at the Harpa daily.

Top 10 to see in Reykjavik

  • Learn a thing or two at a museum: The National Gallery of Iceland for art, the Maritime Museum for a history lesson on fishing and the sea or the Sagas Museum to hear “stories” of Iceland’s settlers and the National Museum of Iceland for an in depth look at the past
  • Take the On the Bus Off the Bus for a quick lay of the land
  • Walk the old and new port. See the Sun Voyager and Reykjavik’s modern buildings mixed with its old. Wander the downtown streets checking out the Parliament Building, City Hall and the Culture House

Fantasy Aisle

  • Visit Perlan for the panoramic views
  • Shop Laugavegur Street and take home a Nordic sweater, hat or blanket.  Do I really need a blue and white gorgeous Nordic blanket for $165—Maybe?  Yes, I think I do
Main Shopping Street

Main Shopping Street

  • Eat Ice Cream – Icelanders venture out in the cold dark of night for their favorite.  Go for the soft serve it’s not like Mr. Softee at all.  It has flavor and substance
  • Visit Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran Church and check out its tower for the view
  • Buy a treasure at the Flea Market (only on weekends)
  • Meet the locals and have a conversation – they are kind and generous and will giggle at your attempts to go unnoticed
  • Go whale watching if that is your thing and then write a letter and ask them to stop killing the whales when you return to your country then definitely try Minke Whale in the restaurants
  • Just one more….swim in a geothermal pool

Travel Tips, What to Pack

It’s time to pack

June 18, 2015 • By

Your departure day is fast approaching and it’s time to think about packing. If there is one piece of advice every single traveler gives to another it’s DO NOT OVER PACK but it’s bound to happen to everyone sooner or later and you will find yourself sitting on that suitcase to ensure closure and cursing at it the duration of your travels.

My trick to the trade is checking the weather of my destination as early as possible so I can figure out if I need to hit the sporting good stores, Athleta, Lululemon or stock up on cotton dresses from various department stores.  If you are planning a trip in advance, it also helps because some clothing is only available seasonally in stores (always check online).  Will you be hiking in the mountains or sunning on the beach?  Typically, I use a durable suitcase that I can carry-on but expands if necessary and a small backpack or over the shoulder day bag.

Travel tip: Lay out all the clothes you think you need and then pack half or maybe even less than half.  You don’t need four pairs of shoes, two sets of jeans and multiple swimming suits unless of course you are going on a two week holiday to one location.

WHAT TO BRING ON ALMOST EVERY TRIP

CLOTHING

  • Underwear – I bring enough for 2 weeks of travel
  • Socks – Mix and match your favorites I tend to wear these a few times before washing
  • Undershirts & Bras
  • Pajamas
  • Cardigan/sweater or wrap for airplanes and air-conditioner
  • Dressy Outfit – You never know when there might be a special occasion
  • Jeans/Pants/Shorts – Climate and culturally appropriate
  • Skirt – Many women are required to wear garments covering the knees
  • Jacket/Rain proof/vest – Depending on climate, you may need a full winter coat or a waterproof rain jacket or something to block the wind
  • Hats – Winter hat for the cold climates or a baseball cap to block the sun or even a visor or beach hat
  • Gloves
  • Scarves – Multiple purposes (covering hair, shoulders and keeping warm or dressing up an outfit)
  • T-shirts/tanks
  • Exercise Clothing
  • Swimsuit or trunks
  • Sandals/flip-flops
  • Sneakers
  • Flat comfortable shoes

TOILETRIES

  • Toothbrush – old-fashioned or make sure you extra batteries for electric
  • Toothpaste & Dental Floss
  • Bar of Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner
  • Brush/Comb
  • Hair accessories/products
  • Cleanser
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Contact lenses/glasses/solution
  • Razor
  • Make up
  • Nail accessories if necessary
  • Hand wipes – these are my saving grace.  I buy a few packets and keep on me at all time along with mini toilet paper rolls
  • Kleenex
  • Laundry packets
  • Stain remover/Tide stick

MEDICAL

  • Vitamins
  • Aspirin
  • First-aid kit – band-aids, neosporin, moleskin for blisters, cotton balls, sewing kit with needle and safety pins
  • Birth control/prescriptions – Don’t forget to bring a list of all and the reason for taking each
  • Sleeping pills
  • Earplugs
  • Iodine tablets to sterilize water if necessary (camping/hiking)

TRAVEL DOCS

  • Passport/Visas – also bring paper copies and hide in luggage
  • Driver’s license
  • Copies of itinerary on you and one left at home with family for friends
  • Copies of credit cards in case of loss (in accessible location)
  • Emergency contact
  • Medical/health insurance cards
  • Medical history
  • Hotel loyalty cards
  • Money belt/secure and hidden bag for valuables

TECHNOLOGY

  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • Mobile phone – Make sure to set up roaming/data before departure.  Foreign fees are high
  • Chargers/Adapters
  • Batteries
  • Mini Flashlight
  • Download any movies/books for the long plane rides or drives

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Journal
  • Magazines/Books
  • Snacks/granola bars
  • Pens
  • Gifts for locals such as pencils, chewing gum, paper, etc
  • Umbrella if room
  • Ziplock/plastic bags – dirty clothes, shoes, toiletries, all sorts of uses and come in handy
  • Cash – US Dollars or Euros are safe for exchange
  • ATM Card/Credit card – Use cards with no foreign service fees like Capital One or Chase explorer
  • Luggage lock – May not use on some airplanes but good for leaving behind at hotels
  • Day bag/backpack – over the shoulder or small to fit a guidebook and scarf and a few toiletries
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