Its like He made it for us: Island. We know it here as Iceland, but over there it is spelled Island. The land has become legendary in our home; visions of glaciers, waterfalls, bare green hills and isolation from life’s commonalities have slowly wooed us over the years. With gratitude in our hearts we found ourselves bundled up in sweaters and anticipation for a grand six days.
DAY 1 – SEPT 8TH, 2010
After an overnight six hour flight, we arrived in Iceland at 6:30am. The sun was just rising, shedding light on low gray clouds and a slight drizzle. It was suggested we pick up any wine, beer or alcohol we may want at the airport to avoid the high taxes in town. Excellent suggestion and we were pleasantly surprised by the duty free assistance; profound wine knowledge pointed us towards some wonderful and more reasonably prices sips.
Keflavik, where the airport is located, was flat and dreary. But we knew well enough to ignore first impressions. We picked up our car from an ingenious company called SAD Cars who offer the cheapest car hire in Iceland. We were able to hire a reliable Toyota Yaris for 1/3 of the price of the big name providers (Avis, Budget, etc). If you don’t mind a used vehicle, we highly recommend SAD.
We threw our bags in and despite hunger and sleep deprivation, smiled as our little car drove past the waking villages en route to Reykjavik. We arrived at the apartment we would reside in for the week and through a bit of travel logic rang the owner, Haldor, to let us in for our early check-in. The Einholt Apartments are one of three resident and short term stay apartments that Haldor owns. Because we took our holiday in September, he upgraded us to a one bedroom apartment with a view of the mountains and water – and an empty lot. Maybe not picture perfect, but keep your eyes high and the view was pristine. The apartment was clean and roomy and the kitchen well stocked, utility wise, for two. There was a slight smell that I could not put my finger on. After 24 hours, I realized geothermal energy produces geothermal scents. So long as the stench wasn’t rotten food, I remained quite happy.
Though I’ve never been fond of urban holidays preferring the quiet of remote tourist free locations, I love to wander aimlessly within city walls. Reykjavik is no exception with much to delight the visual senses. It rained off and on, but no bother to us. Warm and dry, we ventured from shop to shop meeting welcoming locals, unique art, daring restaurant menus (puffin and whale) and the most exceptional coffee I’ve encountered across the globe.
A notable café to which we visited a few times was Sandholt Bakeri. Outstanding latte and the most beautiful mango coconut pie – like a chiffaun layer cake – complimented a much needed sandwich. On to the grocery. If you follow the yellow bags adorned with a logo of a crazy-eyed bright pink piggy bank, you’ll find a BONUS grocery near by. We picked out our supper of fresh cod, brown rice, yam and salad. Add in some breakfast and lunch options, lochs, crackers and cream cheese and we felt pretty well set for the week.
Thankfulness, a full belly, warm Scandinavian bedding and melatonin eased us to sleep.