Today was a day filled with wonder, excitement, and a lot of sleep deprivation. We touched down in Reykjavík at 6:30 in the morning on Monday, October 31st, and we are just now concluding at 1:30 in the morning on Tuesday, November 1st. We walked the city, we ate some of the amazing cuisine, and we got to see some of the wonderful things Iceland has to offer.
Our first stop was our hotel, and the drive into Reykjavík from the Keflavik International Airport was amazing, because we all sat in stunned silence as we watched the first sunrise of our trip. It was easily one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life.
Then, our professor Althea walked us around the city, and took us to our first major stop: Bæjarins beztu pyslur for some Icelandic hot dogs. Chicago is also famous for our hot dogs, but these were something entirely different. They had crunchy fried onions in them, which sounds like it would be really gross on a hot dog, but in reality it was so good.
We continued our tour throughout the city and saw all of the different venues we will be visiting once Airwaves starts. My personal favorite so far was Harpa, which is located right on the water. The glass is in hexagonal shapes, and it is in a ton of different colors so when the sun hits it, it looks like a kaleidoscope and refracts different colored light all over the ground below it.
Next we went to City Hall and spoke with Heiddís Einarsdóttir, who helps plan some of the city’s major events such as the Winter Light Festival, the Children’s Culture Festival, as well as running the very successful brand, Reykjavík Loves. She said that her team spends on average six to eight weeks prepping and planning for most events, but some they spend up to four months preparing for. She also said the city was expecting upwards of 2.4 million visitors in the next year.
From City Hall, we made our way up Laugavegur where we saw a bunch of shops and record stores before finally making a stop at the Hallgrimskirkja Church. From there, we made our way to one of the many pools in Iceland, Sundhöll Reykjavíkur. Pools are a really popular activity in Iceland, and it was awesome to be able to experience it for myself. We swam a few laps in the pool, and then made our way outside to the hot tubs that overlooked the city. Around that time the sun was setting, and it began to feel like our day had come full circle.
After the pool we all ran back to the hotel to change and freshen up before grabbing a burger at Burgerjoint, and heading on to our night tour of the Northern Lights. It was at this point that everyone started falling asleep every few minutes. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t get to see the magical green lights dance, but we did see some white fog-esque lights which were cool nonetheless.
This first day in Iceland has been nothing less than magical. It will be a day I cherish for the rest of my life, and I cannot wait to see what the next few days have in store for us.