2,000 miles away from Chicago, we were driven into the Thingvellir Park, Iceland where only black abyss was seen and stars above twinkle quietly. Stripes of white mist filled the sky as we stood looking up waiting for the northern lights to turn green. Unfortunately they decide to stay white, but the Magic didn’t change.
We arrived in Reykjavík at 6:30 am October 31st. We dropped our luggage off at Fossbaron Hotel and hit the ground running for a tour of the city from our professor Althea Legaspi
. The city was quiet but unbelievably cute. We passed Harpa, one of the Icelandic Airwaves venues. It’s a stand out. The outside looked like the scales of a fish, reflecting different colors as the sun moved horizontally across the sky. Next to the modern building is the Old Harbor, where massive trade ships and fishing boats lined the docks.
The sound of splashing waves echoed through the bay as we continued our exploration. One of our favorite stops was hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
. Unfamiliar with what exactly the sauce was, we scarfed them down in about two minutes. After, we visited the diverse Airwaves venues ranging from huge concert halls to small quirky bars. Each of us will be going to these venues to see Icelandic bands play in Iceland Airwaves.
We returned to City Hall, which is a large grey cement building sprawled out onto a pond where locals gather to feed the ducks and swans. At city hall we met Heiddis Einarsdóttir, the International Relations and Marketing Manager at Visit Reykjavík,
where she prepared coffee and cookies for us while we learned about the organization and what different events Reykjavík puts on every year. Some of these are Culture Night where there is a total of 300 events happening at once in Reykjavík, Yoko Ono’s Illumination of the Peace Tower, the Children’s Cultural Festival and many more. The coffee was definitely needed after several hours without sleep. Thank you Heiddis!
Next we made our way to the famous Lutheran church Hallgrímskirkja
, stopping at a quaint record store 12 Tónar
on the way. The church was stark and stunning and we took a few moments to gaze at the tower hundreds of feet above us.
We then hiked over to a local thermal swimming pool where swimming multiple laps was probably one of the last things we wanted to do after a long day of fighting sleeplessness, but we did it anyway and rewarded ourselves with sitting in the 39 degrees Celsius thermal tub with locals. Not to mention the “better than In & Out burgers” we had for dinner at Hamborgarabúllun
Lastly, we ended the day with the surprise northern light tour.
Couldn’t have asked for a better first day in Iceland.