Iceland Unraveled: A Day in the City
Welcome back to the last installment of the Iceland Unraveled series! On our last day of adventuring in the beautiful country of Iceland, my Dad and I explored a small portion of a beautiful national park, then spent the day shopping and dining in the beautiful city of Reykjavik. Thanks to everyone who has read all four installments of the Iceland Unraveled series! If you're behind on your reading, check out the related posts to catch up on previous days of our adventures. I hope you enjoy reading about this last chapter!
Though we ended up staying an extra day because of flight cancellations (curse you, Pennsylvania weather!) this was our last true day of travel and adventure. We started the day the way all explorers hate to - packing up our things. I miss our apartment dearly! This was my first experience with Airbnb and I have nothing but good to say about it. Our first stop was in Thingvellir National Park, based on the natural beauties it held and its proximity to the city. My Dad and I agreed that he had already done way too much driving, and this was a nice compromised location.
Unfortunately, the weather finally caught up to us - where most previous days had been cloudy or misty at worse, today the rain certainly came down. It didn't damper my mood - I was staying another day in Iceland, and therefore I was ecstatic - but it was hard to enjoy the full beauty of the national park when it was shrouded in grey. Nonetheless, we took the drive over and pulled up in the parking lot to see what there was to see.
Our first stop was the beautiful Oxararfoss, which required a short hike and surefootedness. Though that ice arch over the waterfall is a product of winter, we thought it was fascinating - if only we could be there to see it collapse! There were quite a few other photographers sharing the wooden viewing platform with us. Unfortunately, it was a small-ish area and spectators were not allowed to hike off of the platforms. We enjoyed the sights for a while nonetheless, then hiked away from the area.
One of the many special sights of Thingvellir National Park is the iconic tectonic plates that separate in the form of canyons filled with bright blue water. There are many scuba tours that take tourists down to explore the crystal clear water and beautiful natural wonders. Unfortunately, my Dad and I didn't budget enough time to explore the option, but just being at Thingvellir showed us the break between the tectonic plates. We drove around the area for a bit and, discouraged by rain and exhaustion from previous days, we decided to head back into the city and explore for a while.
Reykjavik is famous for its gigantic church, cuisine, and unique layout next to the ocean. Its most famous street, Laugavegur, is renowned for holding shop after shop, after restaurant after restaurant; this is where we started our tour of the city! My Dad and I didn't hold back shopping - we searched through woolen sweaters in a rainbow-painted Salvation Army, found delight in decadent Delicatessen's on both sides of the street; there were plenty of tourist shops to find cute little souvenirs, but it was the hard-to-find stores that really made the trip special.
My personal favorite shop was a small secondhand bookshop - turn right on a small, bright alleyway and you'll find an art gallery and, down a few wooden stops, this secondhand bookshop that was filled quite literally from floor to ceiling. For such a tiny space, I had probably never seen so many books in one place at once. The language and genre varied from shelf to shelf - the organization was based on the ability to fit everything together. Bókakjallarinn, as the store was called, is a must-do for fellow book lovers, avid readers, and lovers of things behind the scenes.
My second favorite stop along our adventure through Reykjavik was the lovely little Te & Kaffi, which doubled as a bookstore, stationary shop, and vegan bakery. My Dad bought a cappucino and sat down at the communal table that housed writers, students, and coffee drinkers alike. I shopped - these are my absolute favorite kind of stores, where the books are as abundant as the pens - and I found the most delightful little fellow sleeping on a small chair in the back of the store! I never did catch his name, but he was very content sleeping the day away amongst the bookshelves.
We actually ended up coming back to Te & Kaffi later in the evening, and this kind creature was sound asleep in the exact same spot as earlier in the day. What a lovely life he is living! After another hour or so of walking, shopping, and talking, my Dad and I agreed it was time for dinner. He had done a bit of research about the street we were exploring and, though we passed dozens of restaurants along the way, we ended up choosing a small, dark, but overtly friendly bistro called Public House. It was so fascinating to dine at a restaurant right on the main street. The table behind us spoke with British accents, whereas the table on the right was entirely Icelandic, only ordered beers, and crowded over blueprints and architectural papers. This was such a beautiful plethora of people coming together just to eat - and it's just not a very common experience in the small town I come from. The restaurant itself was absolutely delicious as well; we dined on Icelandic lamb, charred cod, and roasted chicken.
Once we were full of food once more, we continued our meander down the street, stopping in a few more stores and enjoying the vibrant people-watching. Slowly the sun began to sink behind the clouds and mottled grey mountains; once our stomachs began to rumble once more, we picked up a few famous Icelandic hot dogs and brought them back to our apartment, where we enjoyed our last night listening to music and taking a look at our photos from the day.
I truly hope you've enjoyed reading Iceland Unraveled through the past weeks! I'm so lucky to have the ability to enjoy trips like this - and I hope my Dad enjoyed his birthday present. I've really enjoyed looking back and reflecting on all of our adventures. I can honestly say there was not one unsavory moment during the entire trip - thank you so much for reading, and stay tuned for my next adventure!