Icelandic Diaries Day 6 – Return to Reykjavik and the strange Viking

It was finally time to make our way back to Reykjavik and wind down for the end of the trip. However the wind down definitely didn’t start this morning. Early morning drive up to the Dyrhólaey lighthouse that we had been enjoying from the view at the hotel. I thought that some of the roads we had traveled on so far had been a little rough but the track that ran up to the lighthouse was like something out of a moon landing with potholes the size of craters that we had to avoid. The one point in the trip I wished for greater clearance and four wheel drive. Luckily we made it in one piece and could enjoy the sunrise over the black sand beaches stretching out in both directions. A great start to the day.

While we were soaking up the scenery and watching the huge flock of birds that were swooping around the lighthouse we noticed a very daring photographer climbing out on to the rocky outcrops trying to get that perfect shot. On this occasion he was extremely lucky and didn’t even realise the danger he was in. As he moved away from the edge with the camera in hand a huge way crashed against the rocks and swept over the exact spot he had been crouched on. Another example of people putting themselves in danger just to get a simple photo; craziness in my humble opinion.

As you can probably tell from my photos I don’t spend hours trying to capture the perfect shot or use a camera with a million different settings as I feel that all the time spent taking a single photo takes all the time away from actually living the experience. Personally, I use a photo to quickly capture a single moment which will remind me of all the great memories we made. I don’t feel like I can really enjoy the holiday and experience it if I spend all my timing staring down a camera lens or trying to find the perfect exposure to use.

Sunrise captured, the road was then calling us back to Reykjavik. As we made our way back we could see how quickly the weather can change in Iceland. We had been told on the walking tour at the start of the trip that winter was late this year but as we came over the hill and could see Reykjavik it was clear that winter had finally decided to arrive. Check out the end of the time-lapse to see what I mean.

On our return we were staying in the Viking Village Hotel which is a little way out of the centre but we thought it would be nice to try somewhere different. The whole hotel is Viking “themed” which seemed to mean filled with Viking style things around the reception desk. The rooms, however, didn’t seem to get the memo regarding the theme. They were very small with massive pictures of Greenland screwed on to the walls which made the space seem even smaller. Also, due to the location of the hotel the sulphuric smell was almost unbareable. They had a very polite note in the bathroom about the water being natural but this doesn’t help you when you are having a shower in what smells like liquefied rotten eggs. If you are sensitive to smells I would give this one a wide berth.

Bags dropped it was time to head back to the centre and go exploring for more food (as is our custom). We parked up at the Perlan and took in the panoramic view of the city from the viewing deck. Snow capped mountains and a colourful city full of street  art and mis-matched architecture. Hard not to fall in love with the city when you see it from this perspective.

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For lunch today we decided that it was finally time to check out Hamborgarbúllan which is apparently David Beckham’s favourite burger chain. If it is good enough for David Beckham that it is surely good enough for me. The little burger joint is a really quirky shape and the inside is plastered with pictures and memorabilia that means there is always something different to see while you chow down. The menu is varied, with a number of different types of meat and topping but we chose to go for the special of cheese burger, chips and a drink. Simple. I also enjoyed that there was a sauce table with dozens of different bottles to choose from. I went for the jack daniel’s BBQ and chilli ketchup. The burger came served in the traditional diner style basket and wrapped in grease-proof paper. It was very juicy and not too greasy; all the signs of a great burger. I still think my favourite fast food is the hot dog but I think this is due to my new found lover for Bearnaise sauce which I now want to have on everything.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the city and getting the occasional hot chocolate and taking in the sights one last time. We then slowly made our way back to the Perlan and headed for the hotel. After an hour or so of relaxing and watching some terrible television it was finally time to eat again. I know my priorities are very simple and consistent. We decided to go to the restaurant connected to the hotel. Following the hotel’s lead the resturarant is also Viking themed and offered a full Viking experience tasting menu with fermented shark and dried fish. If you are feeling especially excited you can also organise a Viking kidnapping where they kidnap you from your car or coach and take you to a small cave and sing Viking songs to you. I didn’t find this too appealing for some strange reason but this didn’t mean we could escape the songs while we were eating.

I am not completely sure whether the man with the small guitar type instrument (not positive of the exact name for it) was actually an employee or just a local drunk that they keep around. Regardless, he was dressed as a Viking and decided that it would be a great idea to wander amongst the handful of customers, ourselves included, sing what he called traditional Viking folk songs even while you were eating. For some unknown reason I found it a little uncomfortable having a guy dressed up as a Viking and singing behind me while I am trying to eat my very delicious lamb steak sandwich. Do I carry on eating while he is singing or do I turn round, letting the food go cold, to look him in the eye? I decided it was a combination of the two because looking him in the eye made me feel a little more uncomfortable than someone singing behind me.

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I don’t think there are many English people who learn Icelandic as I could tell that he was singing about kittens in the “traditional folk song”. I don’t know a great deal about Viking songs but I very much doubt that there were burly bearded Vikings singing about kittens and puppies. I decided it was best to let him go undetected and off he stumbled to repeat his speech and serenade another unsuspecting couple.

The food was actually really good and the price was very reasonable for Icelandic standards. The one thing I can say about all the food we ate on the trip is that the quality was exceptional everywhere we went. The prices are a lot higher than they are here, in the U.K., but the quality and flavour of the food was beyond any of my expectations; which you may have gathered from the amount I have written about it. As my Grandad always says ” you don’t mind paying for quality”  and it couldn’t be truer with the Icelandic cuisine.

And we are finally getting to the end of our journey and the final stop is a nice relaxing visit to the Blue Lagoon and another great meal before we finally had to leave the land of frost and fire.

Ciao for now!

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