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Iceland: Day 1, Reykjavik

We originally planned to fly intoKeflavik Airport (KEF)on Friday, September 2. However, tropical storm Matthew was headed our way and Delta offered flight changes for no charge. We took advantage of this and flew in a day early (oh shoot, an extra day in Iceland!?). Our initial schedule did not allow much time for exploring Reykjavik, so this ended up working out well.
The flight from JFK to KEF was only about 5 hours and we landed at 10 am. Timing was great for jetlag, as we were able to sleep on the plane and immediately start our day in Iceland. The first thing I noticed in the airport was the bathroom. Icelandic bathrooms are very spacious and clean. This was quite a nice change from our last international adventure in India. :) Before heading through the passport line, we snagged a very refreshing juice fromJoe and Juice, an Icelandic juice chain.
The passport line was a bit slow and crowded, but otherwise there were no issues. After getting through security, we had 2 goals in mind: 1) get some Icelandic Krona and 2) get a SIM card. We later found the Krona really wasn’t necessary, as most everywhere takes credit card. However, the SIM card was one of the best decisions of the trip. It was only $20 for 1 GB of data, which more than lasted over the 10 days.Tip: To purchase an Icelandic SIM card, head to the arrival tax-free shop (downstairs next to baggage claim).The data came in handy for using GPS, googling our next stop, texting loved ones, etc.
Next, we took a shuttle to pick up our rental car. Since our early arrival was so last minute, we were unable to add on a day to ourSixt Rent a Car, so we just booked a one day rental fromFox Rent A Car. The man who helped us at Fox was very nice and commented how smart it was financially to get a rental for the day. Cabs in Iceland are very expensive! We piled into our tiny rental car and started our 45-minute drive to Reykjavik. From the first minute of the drive, we were mesmerized by the beauty of the countryside and immediately felt like we were in another world!
Around 1 pm, we made it to our hotel in the Old Harbour,Three Sisters Studio Apartments. The owner, August, greeted us with a big smile and gave us some great tips for exploring the city. We had a private room with a private bathroom. It was modest, but clean and very comfortable. Because we booked last minute, the rate was a little steeper than typical ($213/night).
After settling in, we took August’s suggestion to walk down to theOld Harbourfor some fresh seafood at Seafarrin. This local spot is famous for its Lobster Soup, so we of course gave it a shot. We also selected shrimp and scallop skewers from the fresh seafood display. With 2 drinks, the meal came to around $60. It was very tasty and the soup did not disappoint.
After lunch, we walked around the Old Harbour, where you can book various tours (whale watching, puffin tours, bike tours, etc.). The Old Harbour offers beautiful views of the water, naval ships, several restaurants and shopping. We were starting to feel the jetlag around this time, so we went back to our apartment at Three Sisters for a quick power nap.
We woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on Reykjavik. We walked to the main street, where there are several bars, shops, restaurants, and a skate park filled with local Icelandic kids. Next, we walked up the main street towardsHallgrímskirkja,Reykjavik’s most famous church. The exterior architecture of this Lutheran church is breathtaking. The real treasure though, is the view from the top of the church. For an $8 donation to the church, you can ride an elevator to the top of the building, where you have a 360 birds eye view of Reykjavik. The pictures we got from the top are worth every penny! The church also houses a very large organ which is really interesting to see up close.
We continued to walk around the city and Eventually stumbled intoDillion Whiskey Bar. If you knew my husband at all, you would understand how we might stumble into a whiskey bar, especially one that's been called the best whiskey bar in the world. ;) He tried a local whiskey calledFloki Whiskey, which was quite potent - I could smell it from across the table. The bar eventually got pretty crowded with locals getting off work, which inspired us to go on a little pub crawl. Of course, before embarking on any good pub crawl, you should be sure to have a snack, preferably in the form of hot dogs. We snagged a bacon dog and an Icelandic Classic Dog from theHot Dog House. My bacon dog was basically a fried hot dog topped with bacon. The Icelandic classic dog is topped with onions, mayo and mustard. The sauces were more tangy than expected, but we enjoyed the snack. Now that our tummies were full, our next stop was theDrunk Rabbit, a quaint Irish bar where we tried Iceland’s ownViking Lager. 2 thumbs up!
From the Drunk Rabbit, we could see Iceland’s yuppy crowd heading into a club calledAustur. We eventually mustered up the courage to check it out, even though we felt underdressed. To give you an idea, for any Pitch Perfect fans out there, some of the locals in the club were dressed like Das Sound Machine, the German acapella team! LOL. We had fun at the club, which was playing a lot of American music. Icelanders love Justin Bieber! We eventually started feeling a bit too old for Austur when we discovered it was college night, so we made our way back to the Drunk Rabbit. It was by far our favorite spot. They had live music and we danced the night away, eventually getting the musician to play our two songs (“Sugar” by Maroon Five and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley).  I’m sure the crowd found us slightly annoying, but we had a blast!
On our way home, we picked up some late night Indian food fromShalimar- think greasy take-home curry. This definitely helped us get a good night sleep, in preparation for our next day, touring the Golden Circle!
Stay tuned for our next post on DIY driving the Golden Circle!


This post first appeared on Galavanting Sisters, please read the originial post: here

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Iceland: Day 1, Reykjavik

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