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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Iceland: After thoughts & Tips

So, did Iceland satisfy my craving for excitement?  Yes and no.  Driving in a foreign country was a weird experience.  Although we were in a foreign country where I could not pronounce most of the places we visited, once we were in the confinement of our car, we were in our own familiar mini-universe.

Everyone spoke English so we never encountered the "lost in translation" moment.  Everything could be purchased with a credit card and I had no idea what the Icelandic currency looked like.  

However, the amazing surroundings with the rare force of fire and ice, the variety of exotic foods, and the people who are straight forward, down to earth, and don't take themselves too serious that we have encountered are uniquely Icelandic.

And how can I forget the adorable sheep that kept us entertained on the road?  

There is also some unfinished business left on this trip.  For one, I did not get a chance to experience the wild weekend party scene in Reykjavik.  I also wish we had more time in South Iceland to explore Landmannalaugar.  Last, I am really curious about Iceland in the winter time and wonder what it is like to have no sunlight for 24 hours.  It's good to know that Iceland is so accessible from New York.  Maybe there will be another visit at another time.....


1. Trip Planning

This trip was by far the most difficult one to plan.  The driving tour is always more challenging to plan since there are many elements to consider:  the driving distance from point A to point B, the estimate of how long you want to spend on each site, and lodging for each dates, etc. It is even more challenging to plan a driving trip in Iceland because: a, the spelling and pronunciation of  most locations can be quite confusing. b. there is no detailed map online which is quite frustrating when planning a driving trip. 

I would strongly advise purchasing an Iceland Driving Map to begin your trip planning.  Another easier option is to purchase the package deals with the airline companies or tour companies, such as: Icelandic Air, Iceland Express,  Icelandic Farm Holidays, Hostelling International Iceland, and many many more.

2. Icelandic Air

No free food or beverages are served on Icelandic air when we traveled from JFK to EKF.  However, there is a USB port at your seat.  I am assuming that Iceland Express airline do not provide food or beverages since it is also a budget airline.  

3. Car Rental

Car rental was another big expense for our trip to Iceland.  We ended up getting a 2WD because renting a 4WD would have cost probably twice as much, not to mention the extra gas driving a 4WD.  Geysir Car Rental  has the best price among all the car rental companies that I have searched.  The website states the office opens from 8AM to 6PM, but when we called to confirm our car rental, we learned that the office at the airport opens much earlier.   

4. Outdoor Gears

Fight  your metropolitan fashion urges! You would look really ridiculous in your low rise jeans and fancy coats when you are fighting the strong wind and side-way rainstorms hiking on the mountain path with sheep giving you a funny stare. 

Instead, suck it up and invest on a good waterproof  (not water resistant) jacket and a pair of angle high hiking boots.  While you are at it, consider a pair of waterproof pants if you are planning to do a lot of outdoor activities. It is best if you can try on the clothes in an actual store since sizes of outdoor wears tend to run bigger. 

I had a hard time buying waterproof jackets and thought they looked like oversize bright colored plastic bags.  However, two days into the trip, I was seeing the outdoor wear in a completely different light.  The waterproof parka I bought was the best investment I made on this trip! 

Iceland 9.5: Reykjavik to KEF

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  • Laundromat cafe
  • 66° North
  • Blue Lagoon

It was down the last few hours in Iceland.  We randomly picked Laundromat Cafe for breakfast since we had passed by the place a few times and loved the bookstore-ish interior, airy and relaxed atmosphere. There was actually a laundromat facility downstairs.  What a great idea!  I wish the laundromats in New York can be this stylish and fun.

We still had time to check out some museums, galleries, or other tourist sites after the hearty breakfast, but the settlement center the day before kind of did it for us.  We went shopping for souvenirs instead.  I had yet bought anything except food and gas so far on this trip.  Everything was just way too expensive.  Case in point: we bought 7 postcards & stamps, one small refrigerator magnet from a gift shop for US$30!  I was determined to find something from Iceland to buy, and finally got a simple T-shirt from 66° North that I could afford. 

On our way to the airport, there was the last  "must visit" place to go, the famous Blue Lagoon.  Soaking in the milky blue heated seawater pool with charcoal black lava fields in the backdrop,  I thought to myself, "There would never be anther country like Iceland where I was greeted with thermal baths for both hello and good-bye."

What a great first impression and last memory to have.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Iceland 9.4: Stykkisholmur to Reykjavik

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  • Stykkisholmur
  • Arnarstapi to Hellnar Hike 
  • Borganes - Settlement Center
  • Sjavarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar)
  • 101 Hotel

Greta, our host at the B & B, put in a lot of effort to make her guests' stay comfortable and was proud of her establishment.  This morning, we came downstairs for breakfast, and was blown away by the feast she had prepared for us.  There were homemade blueberry jams, Spanish Quiche, Cinnamon rolls, smoked salmon, organic fruits, and much  more. I felt like I was staying with my aunt who could not stop feeding me.  We could have stayed at the table chatting with other guests the whole morning if we did not have more sightseeing to do.

After check-out, we lingered around Stykkishoimur a little longer.  Stykkishoimur was such a quaint Nordic harbor town.  It reminded H a lot of his uncle's place in Norway.  All the colorful houses reminded me of the houses that I drew when I was little.  Yet, the ultra-modern church totally threw me off.  It was such a fascinating architecture and so unexpected.

Today's main focus was Snaefellsnes peninsula.  It was the first time we saw a  consistent blue sky and bright sun shine.  We took a few detours, made a few photo stops before coming to Arnarstapi.  Unfortunately all the tourist activities ended before end of August.  Once again, a snowmobile tour was out of the question. We took a coastal hike from Arnarstapi to Hellnar.  The scenery was stunning, but I was afraid of walking on a gravel road so close to the cliff.  I was never afraid of height, so this was new to me.  The scenery was stunning, but the fear of slipping and falling off the cliff got the best of me.  Seeing H walking so close to the edge freaked me out.  The closer he walked to the edge, the farther I walked away.  H was amused by my reaction.  I guessed we both learned that I was a total WIMP.  Pathetic, I knew.

There was a certain tuition you had to pay as a tourist:  sights that might be so touristy that no locals would go, or famous restaurants that were mediocre and overpriced.  The next place we visited was exactly just that.  

We had yet to visit any cultural institutes since we arrived to Iceland.  Both Formers and Lonely Plant guidebooks mentioned this "Must-see" Settlement Center in Borganes.  The entrance fee for two exhibitions were more than $20 per person, and the exhibitions were..... (how do I put it diplomatically?) DREADFUL!  First, I could just read up the history and story on the audio guide.  Second, you could not fast forward or skip a portion of the audio guide and had to follow the guide at its pace, which was way too long for someone who had a short attention span.  Third, although the artworks and presentations of the exhibitions were nice, they were catered for teenagers or older children.  It was pretty torturous spending that hour in the settlement when we could have been driving on the road enjoying the beautiful scenery for free. 

After the settlement center, our driving tour was coming to the end.  H always loves driving.  He had such a great time driving around Iceland the past few days when there were sometimes no cars in sights, and landscapes changed from one minute to another.  H constantly reminded me how fresh the air was, and how clean the water tasted.  At times, all we could hear was silence.  The dramatic and frequent weather changes was on the full front of our Icelandic experience.  You quickly learned to bow down to the forces of nature and embrace everything it had to offer to enrich your understanding of this mystic land at the end of the world.

We got a good deal and decided to splurge on the last night's lodging in Reykjavik.  101 Hotel was this swanky hotel located by the shopping street, a few blocks away from the City Center Hotel we stayed the first night.

The room was quite spacious.  One side of the wall was all windows looking out to the sea.  There was also a bar on the first floor, and small spa in the basement.  

After settling into our room and freshening up, we headed out to Sjavarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar) restaurant for our last night's dinner in Iceland.  

 I had read great reviews about this restaurant and they were right.  This was the most memorable meal I had in a long time.

I could just write one entire blog about this meal.  Every single dish was carefully constructed with painstaking details using various ingredients in different forms.  The restaurant's cooking style definitely was under the influence of molecular gastronomy. 

The creativity and technique involved in preparing this meal was mind blowing.  The execution of every dish, whether it was the order, the pace, the temperature, or the presentation was flawless.  I know I sound like one of  those pretentious jackasses, but this dinner brought us deep satisfaction.  It was the perfect meal to end our trip in Iceland. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Iceland 9.3: Hella to Stykkisholmur

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  •  Geysir
  • Lindin 
  • Pingvallabar &  Pingvallakirkja 
  • Bjarnarhofn Shark Farm 
  • Baenir & Braud

We did not have anything planned for today.  I would have loved to go horse-back riding, but did not book anything in advance.  We drove by a few horse farms to inquire about horse-back riding, but some farms were closed after August and some farms needed advance reservations.

I had never met any Icelanders before this trip.  My impression of them from the experience in the few emails/phone exchanges with tour companies & hotels so far were, whether accurate or not, that they communicate with a purpose and had a dry sense of humor.

It could be difficult to pull information out of Icelanders sometimes.  I have found that I need to ask very precise questions to get precise information.  Case in point:  when H inquired about the horse-back riding information from a lady at one of the horse farms that we stopped by, the conversation went like this:

H: "Hi, I am here for the horse-back riding.  How does it work?"

Lady ((puzzled in amusement): "How does it work?  Riding a horse?" (laughing....)

H (feeling a little stupid): "Huh... I mean, what is the cost, when is the tour, and how do I book it?"

Similar encounters seemed to happened quite often.  Yesterday, when we stopped by the Skaftafell National Park to inquire information, the staff at the information desk mentioned a 5 minutes drive to the nearby glacier.  H wanted to make sure we could drive with our car since our rental car was a 2WD. 

H asked, "Can all the cars drive to the glacier?"

The staff answered, "Yes, pretty much all the cars. (pause) Maybe not F1 race car."  (in serious face).....

H walked away scratching his head; unsure if the staff was trying to be funny or snarky....

We had became used to this  kind of Icelandic responses by now and thought they were hilarious.

Since today was the kind of "go with the flow"day, we decided to check out this bakery that I read up on the Lonely Plane guidebook for breakfast.  We stopped by Hverabakari at Hveragerdi and tried the flatbraud og hangikjot (flatbread with smoked lamb), hot-spring bread, and a bunch of other pastries.  Once again, the flatbread with smoked lamb was not my thing, but H loved it. 

We went to Yellowstone in 2008 and was not particularly interested in going to the golden circle, but since it was on our way to Stykkishoimur, we decided to take a quick tour.  For the past two days, we barely saw any cars around.  This was the first day that there was noticeably more traffic on the road.  The Geyser was underwhelming, so we did not stay for long.

After the geyser, we decided to skip the Gullfoss waterfall and went to Lindin for the chocoolate mouse cake instead.  The dark chocolate mouse with raspberry puree, watermelon pieces, and milk foam.  The Lonely Plane guidebook stated that it was allegedly the best chocolate mouse in the world.  While it was great, I would not go so far as world's best.  However, it might be the world's most expensive one.  A small cup of the cake cost us about US$18!

On our way to Pingvellir national park, there were miles of wild blueberry fields.  We saw many people who parked their cars alongside the road to pick blueberries.  The landscape was much more lush than what we saw the past two days. 

Pingvellir was Iceland's most important viking historical site where the vikings established the world's first democratic parliament in AD 930.  It was situated on the north side of the largest lake in Iceland, Pingvallavatn.  It's unique natural setting was created by the drift between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.  We took a long hike and lingered around for the beautiful scenery.

After Pingvellir, it was time to move on to West Iceland.  We headed straight to Bjarnarhofn Shark Farm.  H is a huge fan of Andrew Zimmern's show, Bizarre Foods, on the travel channel.  He was excited to visit the shark farm and finally try the infamous harkarl (fermented shark).

The shark farm was at the end of an unpaved road.  On both sides of the road, there were sweeping 4000 year old lava fields that felt like we were driving on Mars.  It was utterly surreal and fascinating that we could not take our eyes off the landscape.

Finally, we were at the end of the road.  The small shark farm was right by the ocean.  A friendly lady gave us a tour of the museum and told us stories of her husband's viking fisherman's history.  She showed us the family boat that was used over a hundred years ago for hunting sharks in the winter arctic ocean sometimes for weeks.  I could not imagine how it was possible for anyone to survive the bleak winters on the ocean, let alone hunting sharks.

In the middle of the small museum, there was a table with small cubes of fermented shark with dark bread.  H and I both took a small cube of the shark and bread.  The sweet taste of the bread somewhat masked the flavor of the shark.  It almost tasted like a very potent blue cheese with rubbery texture.  We decided to try another shark cube without the bread.  A few seconds later, the strong ammonia smell shot up our nostrils.  It took strong will to swallow that piece, but I was glad that I tried it.  Before we left, we went to the drying house in the back to see where the shark meat was hung to dry.   It was a very windy day, but the smell was still pretty bad.  This was definitely one of the most bizarre food experience for me.

We checked into our Bed & Breakfast, Baenir & Braud, in Stykkisholmur around 7 PM.  I wanted to try all kinds of lodging options on this trip and was happy to have the opportunity to peek into an Icelandic house and see how people live in this part of the world.  Our Bed & Breakfast was absolutely adorable.  It was very well kept.  Our room had a lovely view of the harbor.  There was also an outdoor jacuzzi for the guests to use, which we got to enjoy later that night.  After the hostel and cabin the past two nights, Baenir & Braud was a welcomed change.

We didn't have any dinner plans tonight and were not particularly hungry since we had been snacking the whole day.  We decided to get a hot dog at the wiener wagon and lamb steak across the street at the gas station.  The hot dog was yummy but the wagon closed before we could go back for a second serving.  In New York, I associate lamb with fine dinning; So it was an unique experience eating a lamb steak at a gas station even though the cooking was mediocre at best.  It was past 8 PM when we were sitting inside the gas station, and we saw quite a few children under 12 coming into the gas station, buying snacks or candies, and sitting at the table hanging out.  Young children out alone on a Saturday night was definitely something I would not find in New York.  

While we were eating the chewy lamb steak, we glanced over to the postcard rack next to our table and spotted this amazing waterfall postcard.  My heart skipped a beat.  "NO... this CANNOT be the Gullfoss, can it?"  We stared at the postcard shaking our heads.  Knowing that we were so close to Gullfoss earlier this morning and chose to skip it, I could not believe I made this rookie mistake! I had no words.. NONE.

PREVIOUS: Iceland 9.2: Hofn to Hella


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Iceland 9.2: Hofn to Hella

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  • Glacier Wonder Hike
  • Fjardrargljufur 
  • Dyrholaey
  • Arhus Gistihus

I had high hope for this morning.  One things that I looked forward to the most this trip was the snowmobile tour on the Vatnajokull glacier.  Unfortunately, it started downpour in the middle of the night, and by the time we drove to the meeting point for our snowmobile tour, it turned into full-on rainstorm.  The weather was beyond miserable.  There were only us and another car showed up at the parking lot for the tour.  Ten minutes later, the tour guide showed up, explained to us in a straight forward, no non-sense Icelandic manner that there would be zero visibility on the glacier, and asked us if we still want to go on the tour.  I asked, "Should we go? Would it be dangerous?"  The tour guild shred his shoulder and said, "It's up to you.  It is not dangerous, but the tour is expensive.  I don't want you to get angry if you go on the tour and not being able to see much.  If you want to go, we can go."  By now, I was pretty use to the answers Icelanders gave to me when I asked questions and hope for suggestions.  Somehow, I felt that I was never able to get subjective inputs from them.  The tour guide did not seem very enthusaitc, and as disappointed as I was, I knew it was not the right condition for snowmobile.  Sigh..... I guess that gave us a reason to revisit. 

We went for the back-up plan and drove back to the Skaftafell for glacier hike.  Luckily once we drove pass the Jokulsarlon, the downpour turned to drizzling.  The sun came out, and we saw the biggest rainbow in the sky.

We booked a glacier hiking tour with Glacier Guide at the park entrance.  Before coming to Iceland, I was indifferent about glacier.  When we went to Argentina two years ago, I bypassed El Calafate because I did not think it was worth the effort to travel all the way to see some ice and freeze my ass off.  How was I wrong about that!

Nothing can prepare you from walking on the glacier for the first time.  There was no other experience to drew from.  The glacier was transcendent and majestic.  Standing in front of it, I was in awe. 

Our guide was probably the most talkative Icelander that we met so far.  He was friendly and funny.  We chatted along the way about all things Icelandic.  He explained the fluid glacier landscapes and showed us some amazing moulins. (A moulin is a narrow, tubular hole or crack through which water enters a glacier from the surface.)  When he told us after a long dark winter, how he hiked up to the top of the mountain alone in the early morning and saw the first ray of the sunlight in months, it made me want to come here to experience the presistant darkness in the winter.

The weather held up perfectly for our hike. The 2.5 hours hike did not end until 4 hours later.  We thoroughly enjoyed our glacier hike and the tour guide's company.

The morning rainstorm and the prolonged hike delayed our plan for today.  Luckily, we were able to pack a lot more activities in a day because the Sun would not go down until around 9 PM.  We headed back to Hella and made many photo stops along the way, such as Fjadrargljufur canyon near Kirkjubaejarklaustur. (Honestly, I could not pronounce 80% of the places we visited.)

When we arrived at Dyrholaey, it was raining sideways once again.  The wind was so strong that I could not hold the camera steady.  There was something special about Dyrholaey.  The foggy, windy, and stormy weather created this dreamlike state.  I felt a different energy that was eerie and other-worldly.

The miserable weather we encountered today did not damped our moods at all.  On the contrary, it enhanced our experience.  Somehow, it felt right to have the harsh weather at this part of the world to go with the whole rough viking backdrop. 

I began to understand why more than 50% of the Icelanders believe in elves and hidden people.  There was a mythical arua to this extraodinary beauty at the end of the earth that felt like it was beyond human existance....

It was a long day.  After dinner at the local pizzria, we checked into our simple cabin at Arhus in Hella and called it a night.  


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Iceland 9.1: Reykjavik to Hofn

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  • Svartifoss Waterfall hike
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
  • Kaffi Hornid
  • Vagnsstaoir Youth Hostel

We had a long drive ahead of us today.  After loading up coffees and breakfast sandwiches from the nearby bakery, we were on our way to Ring road one.  Once we drove away from Reykjavik, there were barely any cars around.

The landscape was mesmerizing with the mountain, waterfall, lava formations, and volcano ashes along the way.

The scenery was so beautiful that the drive went by so quickly.  By the early afternoon, we were at the Skaftafell.  The sights of the glacier took my breath away.

We took a short hike to Svartifoss waterfall to stretch our legs and got some fresh air before driving to Jokulsarlon.  Taking the Jokulsarlon boat ride was one of the activities that I looked forward to the most before this trip, and I was in awe as we drove to the glacier lagoon.  Its out-worldly beauty was indescribable.  Both H and I could not stop taking pictures of the floating ice from every angle.  The guide explained to us that there was a volcano eruption 10 weeks ago; that was why there were ashes covering some of the older floating ice. 

After the amazing boat ride, we were back to the ring road one for another 30 kms before we reached Vagnsstaoir Youth Hostel.

I booked the hostel because it was the base of next morning's snowmobile tour.  H never stayed in a youth hostel before, so I was a bit nervous how he would react.  We checked into our room before 6 PM.  The hostel was clean and basic; however, 2 toilets to be shared among 26 people was not the most ideal arrangement.  After check-in, H was up for dinner in Hofn, so we drove another 50 minutes to Kaffi Hornid in Hofn for some famous Hofn langostinos.

The simple cabin restaurant is hardly a romantic place for our 4th wedding anniversary celebration today, but we enjoyed the meal greatly.  I loved the sweet local beer brewed with glacier water.  The langostino soup and grilled langostino came with a generous portion which made their high Icelandic prices tolerable.  For those people who never had langostinos, it is mini lobster that is slightly larger than jumbo shrimp.  The texture of the langostino meat is distinctively creamy and sweet. 

The local trout was not to be outdone, but I could hardly finish the langostinos.  We topped our dinner off with the ice cream made from the local dairy farm.  This was a great meal to finish a day.

PREVIOUS: Iceland 8.30 - 8.31: Reykjavik


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Iceland 8.30 - 8.31: New York to Reykjavik

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  •  Laugardaislaug thermal pool
  • City Center Hotel
  • Hallgrimskirkja 
  • 3 Frakkar restaurant

Do you know that the flight time from New York to Reykjavik is about the same as from New York to Las Vegas?  Our flight from NYC to KEF was only 4 hours and 40 minutes.
The Icelandic airline's schedule  is perfect.  You go to work like any other regular workday.  The flight leaves at 8:30 PM from JFK and arrives at 6:20 AM to KEF bright and early the next morning.  No time is being wasted.  The only thing you need to worry about is to get as much sleep as possible on the plane so you have enough energy the next day in Iceland

If you are tired the next day, don't worry, the strong coffee in Iceland can definitely keep you awake.

We left the airport before 7AM and walked over to the Geysir Car Rental office about 5 minutes away from the airport to pick up our rental car.    The tiny car we got could not fit all of our luggage in the trunk, and we traveled light.

We were off to Reykjavik by 7:30 AM.  As we were sitting in our rental car and driving in traffic with other Icelanders on their ways to work, I felt strangely settled in this foreign country.  In the past, I never felt really "arrived" at a new country until after checking into the hotel.  Having a car definitely sped up the process.  For the next week, this tiny Hyundai i10 would be our home away from home.

It was way too early for check-in; so we made Laugardaislaug thermal pool our first stop.  We were at the pool just before 9 AM on Wednesday morning.  The facilities were a little aged, but well kept.  It was a cloudy day in the 50's with drizzling rain.  We sat in the heated thermal pool and felt the fatigue melt away.  Some locals dressed like they were going to work after the pool, young school children coming with teachers, and older people chatted among themselves like old friends.  It was our first glimpse of the local life.

After thermal pool, we drove to our first night's hotel, City Center Hotel, in downtown.  There were some one way streets  that were a little confusing to navigate.  We were concerned about the parking, but it was quite easy to find a parking space.  We were lucky to be able to check in right away.  The budget hotel was in the central location.  The room was tastefully decorated but so small that we barely had any space to put our luggage.  

After checking in, a quick bite at the pizzeria across the street, and a power nap (it was sooooo needed), H was off to a quick business meeting, and I was excited to be venturing out on my own.

In a country where the population was less than 400,000 people, the capital city, Reykjavik, felt more like a small town.  The pace was slow, the streets were quite, and the air was fresh.   Although it was only the last day of August, the temperature felt like October in New York.

I walked along the main shopping street of Laugavegur.  There were some clothing stores, quite a few of them selling outdoor gears, few bars, restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.

Two hours later, H returned from his meeting.  We wondered around aimlessly, checked out the local supermarkets, bakeries, and took a coffee break at one of many local cafes.  The strong coffee helped to keep us awake for the next couple hours.  We bought a winter hat and gloves for H since he forgot packing them for the trip and bought a driving map for the next few days.

We tried our first "Pylsur" (Icelandic hot dog) at the funky bright colored Drekinn Grill. Coming from New York, where it has it's own reputation about hot dogs, I must say that I liked Pylsur better with the crispy onions.

Downstown Rekjavik was small and extremely walkable.  We took a long stroll, stopped by the modern Hallgrimskirkja church, quaint Tjornin lake, enjoyed the Scandinavian architectures and unique sights on the streets, such as this super jeep that I had never seen elsewhere.

I was intrigued by the icelandic's exotic cuisine when I was doing homework for this trip and made a reservation at 3 Frakkar for our first night's dinner.  3 Frakkar was a popular restaurant and many people were turned away without reservation.  We ordered some Icelandic dishes that definitely tested my limit.

Left side dishes:
1. Ptarmigan & Reindeer pate with cumberland sauce: 
Ptarmigan is an arctic bird.  This was the only dish that I was somewhat comfortable eating, relatively speaking.

2. Smoked Puffin breast with mustard sauce: 
This dish was really difficult for me to stomach.  I did not expect that bird meat would look bloody red.  The fact that it was smoked and raw certainly did not help to enhance my appetite.  However, H loved this dish.  

3. Whale pepper steak with pepper sauce (Hrefna-Minke whale)
I definitely felt guilty ordering this dish, and subsequently could not enjoy it.  The texture of the meat was kind of between beef and elk steaks. 

Right side dishes:
1. Hashed fish with black bread "Icelandic specialty"
This is the most normal dish that we order.  However, it used way too much salt, butter, and cream that after a few bites, I felt nauseous. 

2. Chocolate cake with ice cream.
You would think chocolate cake is a hard one to screw up.  However, it was a pretty bad cake that tasted like the ones you bought from the frozen secion of supermarket.

I must confess that I did not enjoy my first dinner in Iceland.  The cooking at 3 Frakkar was rather disappointing and the exotic dishes we ordered freaked me out a little.  I learned that I might be open minded enough to be willing to try almost anything once, but to blindly dive in and commit to a whole dish was way beyond my limits.