There was no chance of me live blogging during our Iceland road trip, so I went old school and put pen to paper to keep a good old fashioned travel journal during our adventures. Of course, I couldn't keep our road trip to myself, so I'll be slowly sharing a series of Iceland posts on Field & Nest, beginning with a day-by-day play of the trip.
Day 1 | Thursday 2nd June
Flying over Iceland, even the view from the plane is spectacular. Two huge white expanses beckon below - the gigantic ice caps in the south-east. Landing, it's a clear night, sunny and warmer than I expected. As we make our way through the airport towards the flybus, mist descends in the blink of an eye and, for a time, we are enveloped in a shroud of cloud. Almost as quickly, the sky brightens and the cloud lifts, allowing views of the surrounding landscape as we drive towards the world's most northerly capital. We're treated to vistas of dramatic mountains and the occasional plumes of steam in the distance.
Our apartment is small and hot, but has everything we need. It's a short stroll to Laugavegur, the main street of the city. Reykjavik is unlike any city I have ever visited previously; it's so small! Through gaps in between buildings and down side streets you catch glimpses of snow-capped mountains and a surprisingly calm sea.
The small streets are lined with paintbox-hued buildings, either pebble-dashed or covered in colourful corrugated steel. Street art is everywhere, and it's beautiful, even better than in Berlin.It feels like a small fishing village rather than a capital city containing 60% of the country's population.
We're sleepy. It's been a long day and it's almost midnight, but the sky is still bright and we find Lebowski bar only five minutes away from our apartment. A slight misunderstanding gets us half price White Russians and we toast to our first night in this unfamiliar country.
We skulk home in a strange 1.30am light that feels like the sun is about to rise.
Day 2 | Friday 3rd June
I can't sleep. I'm wide awake and excited to explore Reykjavik. It's 7am, a time that I would usually describe as 'the crack of dawn', only this is Iceland and the sun has already been up for about 5 hours. I head out on my own whilst Dave snoozes, seeking out breakfast supplies, including our first sample of Skyr, the Icelandic protein-laden yogurt.
We walk a lot throughout the day. I like to find my way around a new city by foot and Reykjavik is so small that it's easy to get around and almost impossible to get lost.
We ascend in the lift to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, after admiring the impressive organ and minimal interior of the church. It strikes me that this is how all religious structures should be, calming and peaceful without any fuss. From the tower we soak in the views of the city from above; paintbox rooftops under a cloudless blue sky, mountains in the distance. It feels even smaller from above, especially when a plane flies overhead to land in the small city airport.
Walking down to the water's edge, we pop into Reykjavik Roasters en route. It's got an unfinished aesthetic that I love, with raw walls and floor and I perch on the window seat whilst Dave sips his latte. In the corner, a gaggle of locals are knitting and an employee sits grinding coffee. Back outdoors, we visit the Sun Voyager sculpture and spend some time sat on the rocks, drinking in the view over the bay. I think 'if we lived here, I'd bring a picnic and a bottle of cava down here on days like this'. We turn to leave and the couple behind us are doing just that, toasting each other with plastic wine glasses.
We stroll past Harpa and briefly pop inside. I like the way the glass-paneled ceiling reflects on the floor and spend a while photographing the shadows. Admiring the gift shop, we wish we had both endless budgets and room in our suitcases.
Lunch is eaten at the Sea Baron's restaurant, in a little green hut down by the harbour. We sit inside at a long communal bench, perched upon buoys that are being used as stools. The decor reminds me of Scotland, fishing paraphernalia just the right side of kitsch. The lobster soup isn't as great as the guidebooks promise, but my grilled monkfish and vegetable skewer is delicious, especially drenched in salt, pepper and lemon.
Wandering the streets, we go out of the way to discover some of the city's finest street art. Heading further north, I seek out a couple of pieces by Sara Riel to admire. It's hot, much hotter than we expected, despite my phone arguing that it's only 14 degrees. On the way to the lake, we stumble across a shambolic skateboarding competition and watch a group of young lads falling over for a while before we sit and rest in the sun.
We nap for three hours back at the apartment, lulled into oblivion by a combination of heat and exhaustion.
When we can drag ourselves back out of bed, we head to Dillon bar to catch the end of happy hour. It's a British-style rock bar with affordable drinks, and we sit and chat to a Scottish couple who have just completed the trip that we are setting out on tomorrow. We eat there before strolling home in the eerie never-ending daylight that we are already getting used to.
Coming soon ... the start of our road trip as we circumnavigate the Golden Circle then head south-east.