We arrived in Iceland at 6:30am, but the sun did not rise until 11am. The weather was drastically cooler compared to Chicago and on our way to the hotel, there were landscapes of mountains and moss. The buildings are a lot shorter and much more colorful than Chicago. During the day, Reykjavík is full of small stores and restaurants with a few people peacefully roaming the streets. Downtown is so small, practically everything is walking distance, but that does not mean that there is nothing to do. Downtown Reykjavík is packed with all different shops, cafes, museums, venues and tourism activities all along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It is completely different from Chicago, except for the Domino’s Pizza across the street from our hotel and a couple Dunkin Donuts here and there.
Our first adventures in Reykjavík included scoping out Iceland Airwaves venues like Harpa and the Reykjavík Art Museum. Our first meal was at one of Iceland’s famous hot dog stands. Back in the U.S., I avoid hot dogs at all costs, but here in Iceland, they were to die for. We continued to venture out on the streets, stopping in the 12 Tónar record store and the Hallgrímskirkja Church. We talked with Heidi Einarsdóttir at the Reykjavík City Hall about the Reykjavík Loves city events, which includes a month long celebration called December in Reykjavík that focuses on the month of December rather than specific religious beliefs. Reykjavik also has a Winter Lights Festival during February, which is one of the darkest months in Iceland, with only about two hours of sunlight during the day.
Later in the day, we swam in the geothermal pools and springs at Sundhöll and got burgers at Hamborgarabúllan right before headed out to search for the northern lights on a Reykjavik Excursions tour bus. Sadly, the lights never turned colors, but we did see the white lights occasionally dance in the sky.