Reykjavik is the starting point for exploring Iceland

31 July 2007.

We had SAS flights from Tallinn to Oslo and from Oslo to Reykjavik. In Oslo, the waiting time was six hours. Oslo was warm and sunny. We had so much time, we took a train to the city. A 30-minute ride costs 86NK per person one way. We walked in the center of Oslo and really enjoyed seeing places familiar from our Norway trip-fountains, street coffees, and King’s Castle. After walking around and enjoying the day in the street cafe, we drove back to the very modern Oslo Gardermoen airport. The airport is very well organized and the departure went very smoothly.

Reykjavik welcomed us with cloudy weather, but it did not rain as promised. After getting the rental car, we drove from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik. This 40-minute drive surprised us with the views—lava fields all around us and no trees.

We did not have a GPS navigator this time (and this was so unused to us), we only had a tourist map from the tourist info box in the airport. The drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik was easy. The map was also very tourist-friendly; some landmarks were even drawn on the map (the new church, the Pearl, Smaralind, etc.). We parked the car near Laugavegur street as we wanted to walk around. But we had no Icelandic kroons (paid parking until 6 PM). In general, you do not need cash in Iceland; you can pay with plastic everywhere. But for now, coins for parking were needed.

We walked down Laugavegur street. We also visited a church, Hallgrimskirkja, an attention-seeking building in the center. Hallgrimskirkja is quite new, built in 1940-1974 (yes, 34 years). The church’s interior is plain and clean. It’s really worth visiting to see the organ. Outside you can see the most famous Viking-Leifur Eiriksson, the statue, of course.

Sægreifinn – seafood restaurant

We had dinner at Sægreifinn fish shop—a really cozy place in a small harbor. They served lobster soup and grilled shrimp, both for 800 ISK. The soup was extra delicious and the shrimp very fresh.

Reykjavik is home to almost three out of five Icelanders. The name Reykjavik comes from the steam seen rising from hot springs by the first settler, Ingolfur Arnarson. In spite of its name, Reykjavik is a smoke-free city, since all houses are heated by geothermal water.

We booked accommodation in Thingvellir National Park, in Fosshotel Nesbud. It was a bit difficult to navigate out of Reykjavik to find route 360. We asked for advice from the local gas station, K1. The attendant was extremely friendly and even found a better free map to find a way.

We found our hotel in the beautiful valley, within sight of the gleaming geothermal plant and the volcano Hengill. The hotel had hot pots—jacuzzi and another with thermal mineral water. It was really relaxing to rest in a hot pot under the clear sky. Although the weather was quite cold (+10C) and windy, it was warm in the bath.

We slept after a long day (we started at 5 AM at home and there is a 3 hour time difference) and the hot pot was really sweet.

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