Iceland is prohibitively expensive, but it is pretty, and it’s always hygge (a Scandinavian concept of being warm, cosy and comfortable). I was a bit sceptical after hearing of it at work, but it doesn’t work so well at home, because we are often stuck at awkward and in between temperatures. The Icelandic sense of humour describes my feelings thus:
Apparently Reykjavik’s top sight is the Hallgrímskirkja, a weird modernist church that allegedly represents Icelandic basalt columns on its steeple. We popped in for a look – yep, we even paid the £8 or so it costs to go in (ridiculous) and went up the tower for some decent views of Reykjavik. But that’s all I’d say – decent. They weren’t as breathtaking as the mountain views you can get outside the capital. Not sure I’d recommend it, but it’s something to do that isn’t too ridiculous.
Leif Erikson, the Viking to settle North America, stands proudly outside the church.
We then wandered the streets of Reykjavik’s arty/old town district, looking for reasonably priced souvenirs. Hint: they do not exist. A Hard Rock Cafe keyring cost £15, and that was one of the better value trinkets. Perhaps I will just have to make do with photographs, after all.
Except for this doughnut, which was the best souvenir I could have bought for £2.80.
Reykjavik’s government buildings are really quaint, adorable, and – you guessed it – hygge. The country is really high up on the peace index, meaning they don’t have any expensive bullshit defences that take up a lot of resources. It looks almost like a glorified town council – and Parliament House, the Althingi, is so small!
Security here equals a few flimsy metal fences.
We noticed there was a Jamie’s Italian across the square from it, presumably where all the wealthy Icelandic politicians go to get their grub. We were too poor to afford it, unsurprisingly, so we headed straight for the year-round Christmas shop.
Yes, folks, that’s right – Reykjavik has an all year Xmas shop, where you can buy cute decs at the bargain price of £20 a pop. It’s hygge paradise, with fake snow, gingerbread, and smiles all around. We were on the hunt for a Yule Cat themed decoration – this Icelandic tale claims that a mean and grouchy cat will eat children that don’t get new clothes before Christmas Eve. Sounds like Catkin on a bad day…
Grumpy cat to the extreme…
On our way to the supermarket, though, we bumped into the most adorable little kitten, who was playing with a car aerial. There’s a lot of cats wandering about the streets of Reykjavik, so clearly their owners aren’t afraid. I could have died, the lil kitty was so adorable, I wish I could have taken it home!
Too cute for words!
Later on, we spent £50 to bathe in waste water from a geothermal plant. I shit you not, but I give you the Blue Lagoon, a great exercise in marketing if ever there was one. It’s well decorated, to be fair, and the water is a fun colour. But be careful – if you don’t grease up your hair with conditioner beforehand, it’ll turn into rocky straw.
I was ready to swim the channel by the time I was greased up, and we jumped in.
The water was warm, but filled with irritating couples and large groups of schoolkids.
I must say, I preferred Budapest, particularly because it didn’t cost me £50 to bathe in some strange silica water. Plus, the changing rooms were Scandi-styled, so there was a lot of nudity and a lot of embarassment all around.
We only stayed about an hour before we got bored, and went back to our hygge apartment for bed, which is where I’m off to now…