Reykjavík is very small, and there is not much to it, so we centered most of our time in the town around eating, and we ate a lot. We slept in and enjoyed the luxury of the room before we made our way to the bakery, Brauð & Co. This place is very famous for its cinnamon rolls, so we started with one of those. It is excellent. The pastry is relatively thin, so it gets a lot of swirls in each roll. I love cinnamon rolls, and these were very good. I did find the pastry in the center to be a bit underdone for my liking. We didn’t fill up because we wanted to try another bakery, so we went to Sandholt for a few more baked goods. Sandholt is a fancier bakery, but we were not impressed with what we had from there. Brauð & Co is the baked goods winner!
It was a cloudy and rainy day, but we did what we could explore Reykjavik on foot. We walked along the harbor, checked the Sun Voyager sculpture, and visited the Harpa Concert Hall. It was all charming.
We visited the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which I enjoyed and thought was quite silly. A museum dedicated to dicks makes me chuckle. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I am drinking coffee as I write this from a mug I bought at the gift shop. However, Sam didn’t love it. Have you ever gone to something and accidentally synced up with another group just because you entered simultaneously? Well, this happened to us, and an annoying British incel-looking dude was mansplaining to these 2 women he was with at the museum. It was annoying, but I ignored it. On the other hand, Sam couldn’t overlook this bro and was annoyed with him every second of our time in the museum.
Believe it or not, this is the only museum we have visited while in town. I regret that a little bit. I would like to see the Icelandic Punk Museum and the National Gallery of Iceland, but we skipped every time. Even in the gloomy weather, it was nice to enjoy the ocean air.
We enjoyed walking through Reykavik and eventually stopped at Seabaron (Sægreifinn) for a bowl of lobster soup. The place is well known, and the soup was delicious, but it was particularly comforting on a gloomy and rainy day. It’s the type of place that normally has a line snaking out the door but was nearly empty when we were there. We quickly got a table and enjoyed our soup with an Icelandic beer. For dessert, we walked to a patisserie shop, Sweet Aurora Reykjavik, run by a french woman who moved to Iceland. It’s nice and very elaborate compared to most Icelandic desserts. The French know how to impress.
Instead of steeping ourselves in the cultural treasures at the museum, we spent the rest of the day shopping. There is nothing “cheap” about Iceland, but everything we got was nice. First, we went to Kirsuberjatréð, which is a collective of women artisans. The products in the store are very well made. Samer bought himself a belt made from Icelandic fish skin. I bought a watercolor of the Hvalfjörður fjord. The artist is Frieda Roolf. It’s set in the summer, but I love the painting of places I’ve had a fond memory of. We bought a watercolor of Huayna Picchu in our living room in Peru, where I proposed to Samer.
We bought a few other gifts for friends and went to The Handknitting Association of Iceland. The one gift I wanted was a lopapeysa, the traditional Icelandic sweater. The sweaters are costly, very warm, and handmade, so you must try on many sweaters. We were in the shop for a while, and I had people from around the world giving feedback on how each sweater fit me. The women from Ohio did not hold back when I tried on the ones that looked terrible.
After that, we decided to nap, but on our return to the hotel, I popped back into Hús máls og menningar for 2 books about Iceland: The Sagas and Shit: Icelandic Literature Crudely Abridged by Grayson Del Faro and 25 Icelandic Folk and Fairy Tales by Jón R. Hjálmarsson.
It’s not lost on me that we must seem profligates now. We spent a day eating, shopping, and napping. What more can be done? Well, our decadence only increased once we woke up. In December, I made a reservation at the only restaurant with a Michelin star in Iceland, Dill. Even 2 months in advance, we could not get a reservation before 9 PM on our way to dinner. We strolled through Reykjavik and stopped at Kokteilbarinn for a drink. This bar’s gimmick is that they have an old passenger train that they can seat you in. They refer to it as the Champagne Train. Obviously, we did not know this was an option, and when the maître d’ asked us, “Would you like the champagne train (my ear heard ‘shampytrane’)?” I was flummoxed at the offer and said, “sure.” Only then were we escorted into a train car. Frankly, I prefer my cocktails in a dimly lit, nice restaurant. If I wanted to be around drunks on public transit, I’d ride SEPTA (zing).
Dill is a nice restaurant and easily the best meal I had in Iceland. It was very high-end without some of the absurd pretension this type of restaurant often carries. We started with a glass of champagne and added the wine pairing. The wine pairing was the weakest part of the dinner. The first paired wine was a German rose that would have been good on its own but did not follow the champagne well and only paired well with about half of the starting course. Additionally, the final wine was not wine. It was cider from Norway. The middle wines were excellent, so this was a real letdown, and it didn’t pair with rhubarb cake at all. They were very generous with the pours, so we left Dill more than tipsy when he the street. We thought we’d hit Reykjavik’s one gay bar, but there was a line to get in, so we passed and had one last hotdog from the Bæjarins beztu hot dog stand.
Next Day: Iceland – Day 8