Google Translation

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Iceland 8.30 - 8.31: New York to Reykjavik

View 8.30 - 8.31 NYC to Reykjavik in a larger map

  •  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.

No comments:

Post a Comment