Icelandair was a good experience. Comfortable seats with decent leg room and they give you pillows. I actually managed to sleep for around 3 hours which is the longest I have ever slept on a flight.
I decided to walk to my hostel from the bus terminal rather than pay extra to get a bus to drop me off. The temperature was fine – 8 c – and there was only really light drizzle. The wind though. It’s enough that you have to actually physically fight with it.
After dropping a bag off at my hostel I decided to go for walk to find some food. Even though it was 10am most of the grocery stores were still closed – probably because the sun was nowhere to be seen. The closest one open was right next to Hallgrimskirkja, the famous and very large church in Reykjavik. By this point the wind had only strengthened and the rain much bolder. I battled my way down the (beautiful) street. Just as my will was fading I noticed that the church’s doors were open so I stumbled inside.
The second I made it through the doors the organ music started filling the exquisitely minimalist structure. I’m not a religious person but it was a powerful experience. I just sat there for a little while. Unable or unwilling to go back to the bitter cold.
Iceland is expensive. You’ve probably heard this before. Flights to get there are probably the most reasonable part. It costs about 25.000 ISK (~$30 CAD) to take a bus to downtown from the airport. Restaurants seem to range from 20.000 ISK to 80.000 ISK for a meal. On the low side though we are mostly talking simple soups/sandwiches, not really huge filling meals. To get a filling meal at a sit-down restaurant I’m guessing $35 CAD is a minimum.
Grocery stores are a bit better. As long as you stay away from things that are difficult to import to Iceland (fruit etc.) it’s expensive but not completely ridiculous. I’m sure you could throw together a big sandwich for around 6.000 ISK.
After leaving the sanctuary of the church I raced to the hostel, had a small lunch (an 8.000 ISK pre-made sandwich from a grocery store if you are wondering), signed up for a “free” walking tour, and then promptly dozed off in the hostel lounge for an hour.
The walking tour was really interesting. Everything from Iceland’s interesting political situation (numerous peaceful protests that forced governments to resign) to its gender equality (“We are the best of a dismal field. We still have a lot of work to do”) and elf rocks (“Icelanders don’t broadly believe in them, but we tolerate people who do”). The best part – the wind only got worse!
After relaxing at the hostel, writing some of this blog, and finding out that my tour for tomorrow is cancelled I decided it was time to relax the proper Icelandic way: at a thermal pool. I’m completely sold on Icelandic pool culture. Alternating between laps in a “cool” pool, relaxing in an outdoor hot pool with snow falling on my head, and the steam room is glorious. Once I’m back in Toronto I want to get back into swimming although I know the experience won’t quite be the same.
I also ate a world-famous hot dog.