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Chasing a Dream - Part I "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" - Robert Frost

A few days in Reykjavik

ICELAND | Wednesday, 10 February 2016 | Views [452]

Reykjavik

Reykjavik

Day 1: Like most flights ours arrived early in the morning into Keflavik airport, where we boarded the Flybus to downtown. The ride took only 45min to central Reykjavik, but another 45mins to drop us off at our apartment. Since we were a group of three we opted for an apartment over a hotel (Stay Einholt). The place was simple, but clean and spacious with 2 bedrooms and a kitchen. It was conveniently located within easy walking distance to the popular Laugavegur Street, which had many shops and restaurants. Thankfully our rooms were ready by 9am; we were exhausted and the darkness made our jet lag worse (sunrise was not until 9:45am). We dumped our bags and took a much needed nap before exploring the town.

Top on our list of things to do and see was a Northern Lights tour. Tammy had downloaded a handy app called Aurora which gave up-to-date rankings for which days sightings would likely occur. Our arrival day was looking like the best bet, so we booked the 9pm Northern Lights Mystery tour with Gray Line. The app was spot on, as halfway into the drive to our viewing spot, the Aurora lit up the sky in eerie green hues. Unfortunately, because these tours are operated with a giant tourist bus, we were unable to pull off the road until we reached a designated parking lot some distance away, and by the time we reached it the strength and activity of the lights had tapered off significantly. The parking lot was packed with 6 or 7 other buses full of tourists, snapping off flash photos. My new camera was totally useless. Tip: do not use a difficult night shot to learn how to use a SLR, while standing in the freezing wind. Luckily Tammy (the app master) had the NorthernLights app on her phone and was able to capture some decent shots despite the weakness of the Aurora. Seeing the lights was cool, but the overall experience was disappointing and I would not recommend a bus tour. If you can afford it, book a private tour.

Day 2: We awoke the next morning feeling refreshed, which was not surprising since we got up at 11:30am. The day was sunny and the wind was low; ideal conditions for strolling along Laugavegur. The guide books don’t lie; this street is packed with charming shops and cozy cafes, and it's easy to spend an entire day (or two) meandering around. Tip: book a hotel within walking distance and you’ll be glad of the many restaurant options, and not just tourist traps either; there is excellent gastronomy here, particularly if you are a fan of fish (look for my recommendations at the end of the trip).

In the vicinity of Laugavegur, and an absolute must do, is the Hallgrimskirkja church. The entrance ticket is cheap (€7 at time of writing) and the view is priceless: 360° of sea, city, and mountains. The low winter sun made for excellent lighting for photography and I forgave my SLR its poor performance the night before.

Tags: iceland, reykjavik, sightseeing, tours

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