As you might know, I’m a city girl, but Iceland is not about cities. It’s about everything else. The country is extremely sparsely populated and a third of its population is in the capital city of Reykjavik. So you can imagine how beautiful and empty the rest of the country is (that is if you ignore the hundreds of thousands of tourists that it draws annually).
In any case, Reykjavik is just lovely–full of colourful houses, cobblestone streets, and vibrant graffiti. We wandered a few different museums, visited the looming Lutheran landmark, Hallgrímskirkja Church, hobnobbed with trolls, took a dip in the famed Blue Lagoon just outside of town, had drinks at a lovely little local bar off Laugavegur (the main drag in Reykjavik), bought Icelandic books and socks and hats, and had a delicious dinner at Lakjarbrekka Restaurant.
As I’ve mentioned in other posts, Iceland is pricy. We ate a lot of snackies during the day, and splurged on fancy fish dinner each night, but even a little cafe jaunt will leave you much the poorer. And other things, like clothes and books, were no less expensive. Wool socks for $25? Check. Although I’ve now lent mine to my travel partner, who has already lost both his Icelandic hats, so perhaps wooly mementos are not in our cards.
Our other city adventure was in Bogarnes which is an hour northwest of Reykjavik, where we visited the wonderful Settlement Centre (thanks to a serendipitous Facebook message from my Icelandic friend Elin in Mexico City – her friends Sirry and Kjartan Ragnarsson started the Centre).
The Centre features two fantastic exhibitions, one about the origin story of Iceland, and another – an all wood sculpture audio tour through the story of the first Icelandic poet, Egill Skallagrímsson. Egill’s story is astounding and the multiple artists who came together to make the wooden sculptures that tell his story were no less inspiring.
Audio guides and art are such good ways to hear stories and learn history. Each exhibit took about half an hour to walk through and listen and look, and I guarantee I’d have learned a lot less if left to read plaques on the walls. Also – the restaurant at the Settlement Centre is a great place to have dinner! And if you have a chance to hobnob with the founder, Sirry, don’t pass it up. She is a filmmaker and artist and all round star.
Abeer Hoque is a Nigerian born Bangladeshi American writer and photographer. See more at olivewitch.com.