Visiting the land of fire and ice – Iceland

The trip to Iceland had very little to do with rock’n’roll, which is very unusual for me – but I don’t regret going for one second! What a magical country.

My friend Henny’s boyfriend is from Iceland, but this time he stayed in Sweden while us girls went on our own trip to the land of the Vikings and the volcanos!

We were picked up by his parents at Reykjavik airport and went straight to their impressive, stylish home to enjoy a home-cooked icelandic meal.

We had lamb and veggies and I tried a drink that I don’t know if it’s something people there usually drink there or if it was just in their household, but it was good! A type of beer that derives from old viking recipes, mixed up with a bit of orange soda.

We got a ride to our apartment-hotel, right in the city center. Absolutely perfect – two rooms, kitchen with everything – fridge, microwave, dishwasher, cuttlery….

Two beds and a sofabed in the other room. Couldn’t have been better as Henny and I have totally different sleeping-habits (she’s up early, I’m up late…) so this way we could just close the door and not get on eachother’s nerves. I think that might have been a good reason why this whole trip went so well! :)

That first day we just chilled. Bought some Icelandic-style breakfast items, like the high-protein yoghurt Skyr, a type of flatbread that’s baked on hot stones and a few different kinds of cheeses, juice….

The next morning, we went to check out Reykjavik city center. It’s not quite like other cities I’ve been to. The Icelanders are very particular about preserving the old, even when modernising or building new houses.

I was told that they are not allowed to tear down old houses. Instead, they are “built in” the new and restored, just fixed up. So – there were no skyscrapers there, just cool colorful houses, no house looked like the one next to it.

And it was CLEAN. Not as much as a stomped in old chewing-gum that you always see everywhere else. Not even a dogshit. Nothing. Clean as a whistle.

Headed to the restaurant/cafe “Perlan” – read more about it here:

From the top, you get a view over the whole city. And – the other reason why we went to Perlan was that the owner of the apartment-hotel told us that if we were looking for a great dessert, we HAD to try Perlan’s cheesecake.

“There is a woman there who bakes it from scratch, it’s home made and the best cheesecake in town!”

He wasn’t exaggerating. My god! Not a good day to diet. ;)

It was cold and windy and I was tired from all the walking, but I had to go out on the deck and take a few pics and film a few clips now that I had the city of Reykjavik right at my feet, pretty much! :)

Bought a few small souvenirs on the way back to the hotel/apartment.

A few hours of relaxing, then we went to this absolutely amazing restaurant in the heart of the city, that I wish I could have taken home to Sweden in my carry-on! With staff and everything!

The not-particularly-Icelandic-sounding name “Tapas” actually offered a fantastic menu consisting of some pretty exotic dishes – at least to a Swede they are exotic.

Even before I left I had decided that I had to try whale. There will most likely never be another opportunity to try something like that. And after checking first, I knew it wouldn’t taste like fish (because I don’t eat anything that swims or crawls in water…).

I also wanted to know if it was ethical to order whale, cause I only see horrifying pictures in my head of whales being hunted and tortured to death. But I was told that the Icelandic people are very particular about how they treat animals and there are strict rules for how to hunt whale. They are only allowed to hunt 5 whales a year and they use EVERYTHING. Felt okay to try it.

Was like a cross between pork tenderloin and beef. But the dish itself was a flavor-sensation. I really have no idea what the salad consisted of or how they prepared what I think was ginger that was also on the plate next to the marinated whale-meat, but THAT was, without a doubt, the most amazing dish I’ve ever tried in my life! (I had to go back the next day and order the same thing once more)

Beautiful little bird that I didn’t want to try at first, because I heard that they were almost extinct. But then it was explained to me that it wasn’t because of humans that these little birdies had problems surviving (I’m sure it has on some level though…).

The reason was that there wasn’t enough food for  hem, so the amount of puffins had to be kept down. That way there was enough food for those who survived. And the rest… ended up on a plate.

I can eat venison with a clear conscience because these animals have lived a good life and they haven’t been kept in cages like our chicken for instance. It’s more natural.

Well, it was dark meat and tasted a little bit like deer, salty and chewy. Worked well with the blueberry sauce.

Had absolutely nothing to do with Iceland, but since it’s not exactly something I will find in my regular grocery store, I decided to try that too. Very lean, very tender. Everything at that restaurant was to die for!

I felt like I had eaten a WHOLE whale when we finally decided to leave. Went back to the apartment again to change and get ready for the next plan on our schedule – meet up with our friends and go to the rock pub Dillon – also right in the heart of Reykjavik.

Anton has been to Sweden several times, if for no other reason, than for Sweden Rock Festival. And Bjarni lived here in Malmö for a while, so we know these boys well from years back.

Funny how they are now playing in the same band (Diamond Thunder – a parody of the 80´s, but not as crazy as Steel Panther) and it’s going really well for them. Local rock stars – how about that! ;)

Anton (bass):

…and Bjarni (drums) & me – from a wild party at Sin city a few years ago:

Rock clubs – anywhere in the world – are like… coming home. They are all pretty much the same. One (or more) crowded bar/s, lots of beer, lots of noise, loud music and long lines to the toilets – and a live band crammed into some corner somewhere, getting people in the party mood.

It was nice, the perfect way to end an evening. However – we had a long day ahead of us the next morning so… no time to get all wasted (would have been the PERFECT opportunity as I wasn’t driving for a change!).

Henny and I left around 2 am I think, the guys stayed.

Sunday was sightseeing day. We were picked up by Henny’s “almost parents-in-law” early in the morning. It was time to see Iceland – the way you’ve seen in pictures…

It was cold and they felt it was a shame that we came this time of year as it was much more spectacular in the spring and the summer with all the colors. But I thought that the winter-landscape was pretty amazing too.

We drove up this single-lane steep road up a mountain that was supposedly closed (we just “didn’t see” that sign….). Not a soul up there. It was SO cold, thank god we could just run back to the van after taking our pictures. The view was absolutely fantastic – and the stillness is something that a city-girl like me never experiences.

I don’t know the names of all the places we went to, except Gullfoss, which was this mighty waterfall that totally took my breath away.

Then it was Geysir, the geothermal area that looks like something from a movie with special effects…! Like little pots in the ground with boiling water in it, you can literally boil an egg in one of those things. And another one that has eruptions every 8 to 10 minutes. Hot water straight up in the air, it’s unbelievable!

Þingvellir –
Another piece of the “Golden Circle” that you call this route that we took that day. It took all day to see all of this, but my god was it worth it.

Þingvellir was almost magical, it was totally, 100% quiet, like a sound-proof booth almost – when the tourists had passed of course. I can only imagine what a sensation it must be to visit that place at a time when there are no people around.

You only hear the sounds of silence, you don’t even hear the wind. We said it a few times while we drove around to see all those things – it’s like something from the Lord of The Rings. You’re almost expecting Sméagol to crawl out from somewhere going “my precioussss…..!!” 

After that day I was speechless. The beauty of Iceland is just unbelievable. You’ve seen it in photos, but we could establish one thing – it was simply impossible to do it justice with a little snapshot-camera.

I would have needed a bigass camera with ten special lenses to capture that magic, and not even then…. I mean, just the feeling of standing there, looking over these miracles of nature, it’s like nothing you’ll ever experience anywhere else.

When we got back to the hotel, we just relaxed for a few before going back to town to grab a bite. We had a reservation at this really fancy restaurant that we had been recommended to visit, but they had some kind of trouble with their booking system so we would have to wait for our table. It didn’t take us long to decide where to go – back to Tapas!!

What a great place. Loved it. If I had been a Reykjavik-er, I would have been a regular there, for sure!

Once again we dined like queens. The best wine, the greatest food, the nicest staff, man!

On the way back, Henny was freezing her ass off so she took the room key and ran off like she had rocket fuel up her ass, lol! I just took a stroll through town. Another thing that hit me was how safe it felt. According to the US department of state, the bureau of consular affairs (man what a name…!) it actually IS a very safe country:

Iceland has a low crime rate with rare instances of violent crime. Most crimes involve the theft of personal property from cars in public areas or residences. 

You could actually feel it, I wasn’t nervous to walk alone eventhough it was getting late.

Monday morning – our last day on Iceland – we were once again picked up by our lovely, sweet hosts, who drove us to see the magnificent Blue Lagoon.

From Wikipedia:

The Blue Lagoon (IcelandicBláa lóniðgeothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The steamy waters are part of a lava formation. The warm waters are rich in minerals like silica and sulphur and bathing in the Blue Lagoon is reputed to help some people suffering from skin diseases such as psoriasis. The water temperature in the bathing and swimming area of the lagoon averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility to help find cures for other skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.

The water was neon-green in some places and super-blue in others. It looks like I Photoshopped the pictures, but it actually looked like that!

We left Iceland with big smiles on our faces, it was an experience to remember. Very different from anywhere I’ve been before. But I think I will go back whenever I get a chance. Henny is talking about getting a few friends together and go back next year. Sounds like a plan to me. :)

If you haven’t been there, put it on your “Things to do before I die”-list right away!

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