We were most reluctant to begin the drive back to Reykjavik simply because all the sights thus far were so amazing! However, we were nearing to the end our Iceland trip, and we are left with 3 days here.
Day 7 – Back to Reykjavik
We bidded goodbye to this unique school accommodation, and then drove to our last item on the Golden Circle journey – Iceland National Park – Þingvellir.
The national park was well marked out, so we could follow a map and check out places where we wanted to go. I think we spent about 3-4 hours here but still didn’t managed to complete the entire place because it was simply too huge.
The national park was full of icey path, and some particularly more dangerous than others.
Sis and I took turns slipping and falling. We were lucky not to have broken anything or even damage any of our gadgets. There are stories of people falling on their elbow on hard ice – yeah, they broke their arms. Ouch. Best is to bring a good pair of crampons.
We decided to visit Öxarárfoss, a waterfall within Þingvellir. One of the danger notice was also situated right up the path to Öxarárfoss. But we decided to try.
Just a few meters up the icey path and tricky steps, we decided it wasn’t worth the slips and falls. We met another couple along (with a kid in a basket) whom were very determined on going up there and were egging on us that it is totally possible, just hold on to the rope handles on the side.
Omg, for the couple, I think this rang danger to me. I think it was really NOT advisable at all. Especially with a kid in a basket???
A few others also didn’t complete their trip and made their descent. They were having fun sliding down on their butt though, as heading down by walking resulted in too much slips. I copied them – slide down on my butt #unglam haha
We some saw really beautiful gorges with lake in the national park.
However, look below:
As much as you want good luck – I don’t recommend throwing coins, which may cause damage to the natural environment.
Þingvellir was definitely a lot of fun – but we didn’t complete everything due to time constraint. Finally, we headed back to Reykjavik.
Honestly – driving in city area was very scary to me, can’t say the same for sis since she was more experienced than me. Reykjavik is crowded, a lot of cars everywhere, and trying to find a parking lot was a challenge itself.
We found an empty parallel parking lot on a single lane road. While we try to navigate in, a lot of cars began to queue up behind us waiting for us to be done. This was so stressful, and in the end I told my sis to let go of the lot and find somewhere else.
Also in one of my driving episode, I actually turned into a wrong lane and froze there. City driving + Less than a year of experience. Scary.
When we finally parked our car successfully, it was parked way further than where we wanted to go. So somehow, maybe a car in Reykjavik might not be so useful at all – just my two cents.
Lazy Afternoon Exploring – Icelandic Hotdogs, Flea Market, and Perlan
Our lunch stop at the famous hotdog stand: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur! After much await, we got our buns and were munching away.
Conclusion: it is a just hotdog bun, and didn’t made much of an impression on us. Still, it was a famous item in Iceland to try. So, we do as tourist do, do check it out.
As it was a weekend too, so we went to their local flea market, Kolaportið. In there, you can find 2nd hand items, like clothes Icelandic sweater (lopapeysa). Might be a good place to bargain for a souvenir for yourself. Also on sale there are food items, frozen seafood and etc.
After that we headed to Perlan for the observation deck, where you can get a 360 degree view of Reykjavik.
In fact, Perlan actually offer a whole lot more other exhibitions like geothermal activities, ice caves, underwater, and even aurora viewing in a cinematic experience. Check out their website for more details.
Now I am beating myself as I couldn’t remember why did I not go through all exhibition. Maybe lack of time, or trying to reduce budget?
In that case, if you only have Reykjavik and Golden Circle on your itinerary, then I recommend visiting Perlan which provides a shortcut to all Icelandic phenomenon in this one place.
Evening – A Weird Encounter
We headed to our AirBnB apartment next. We didn’t get to meet our host, but we found ourselves in an amazing studio apartment – clean and tidy, and amazingly comfortable. Shortly, we made our way out to buy some groceries.
Here was when things got a little weird for once. We were in our car, then trying to figure out our way to the supermarket, and turning on our car’s headlight. I think we accidentally flashed the hard light at a dude, but we continued on our discussion.
Soon after, there was a knock on my window, and this dude was right there. He wore sunglasses, in the evening, when it was all dark?!
Finally he removed his sunglasses and began speaking, saying hi and where are you from, where are you going. This was really weird, like an unsolicited chat??? We told him we were going to supermarket. Then the next question is even weirder, he asked if we could give him a ride to idkwhere.
Sorry man, being in a place we were not familiar with and even having to work with GPS, plus a dude wearing sunglasses in the dark and proposing to us to take him somewhere. This does not sound SAFE to me at all. We declined, being sorry about not being able to do so. And luckily, he did back-off, saying, “Ok. So Singapore eh~ Singapore”.
I do trust Iceland levels of safety and security. But in this case, I think we rather be more cautious than invitingly-friendly.
I will repeat the same complaint again – it was hard to find a parking lot in Reykjavik. Again, we had to park somewhere really further away than what I would prefer. Anyways, our episode of grocery then proceeded smoothly – some ham, skyr, and butter!
Soon, we were home, and sis prepared an amazing dinner:
That night, we also planned for an aurora hunt – only to be defeated by our early nap yet again. Once you start sleeping, it is just hard to wake up. Just don’t do it.
Day 8 – City Walk and Amazing Cinnamon Bun
In the morning, we began with visiting Hallgrimskirkja – a beautiful church and amazing architecture. We didn’t go in, but only lingered outside for photos.
Then we headed Tjörnin – a lake in the middle of Reykjavik. Here you can observe the ducks, geese, birds, and then immerse in the serenity of the lake itself.
Free City Walk in Reykjavik
We then joined City Walk for a free tour, please do check them out here.
This tour was full of interesting tidbits about Iceland, ie. learning a complete icelandic sentence consisting of 5 “A’s”, then about their relationship with the Danes, old town region with really colorful buildings (do check it out there, but keep volume low – cause people do live there), the oldest school in the world, and etc.
One of the most amazing tidbit is here: This carpark here where all cars were crammed into. Like how could anyone exit??
But there is an interesting logic behind this! According to our City Walk guide – this is apparently the only place with free parking. Everyone attending the school at the start of the day parks in the innermost spot and try to allow everyone else to maximise the parking space, and everyone leaves together at the end of the school day. They will all leave their contact number at the car windscreen area, so if anyone needs to leave earlier, call up the respective number of those cars; car owner leaves the class, remove their vehicle to allow the person to drive away, park back, and return to attend class.
What can work here, may not work elsewhere. Really amazed to see this working today.
Our guide was very enthusiastic during the tour, and he created a very friendly vibe there. He also shared some tips on hunting auroras, like any time it might happen, and sometimes even right in the city center. So what we need to do is just go out and wait for it. We shall just do that tonight!
I highly recommend City Walk, please do check them out!
Late Afternoon for Lunch and Shopping around
Back in afternoon, we were then at the region of fishing port area to check out this region and find our lunch. However, it seems that there is a specific dining hours that the restaurants here worked with. We didn’t managed to find our lunch here at the port, but only on the other side of the road at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant.
Finally some decent food photos:
After lunch, we were just mainly shopping around the city center. And there is one more thing I want to recommend:
Brauð & Co bakery. This was hailed as one of the best bakery in Reykjavik. When we got there, I told sis their famous item was the cinnamon bun, but she wasn’t too excited for it. She didn’t like cinnamon flavour. But wait till she finally sang her fangs into those – she was sold! And we walked back to buy a few more, lol. What a huge change in her tastebuds. All the way while we shopped, she was just munching away on those buns!
I had initially also planned to visit the local swimming pool, at Laugardalslaug. For locals, they do not visit those touristy geothermal pools which charges exorbitant entrance fees. Instead, they go to their local swimming pool for a soak, as it also provides similar experiences. However, we had to dropped this as we had to head home early.
Some street captures during the evening hours:
Soon night time and we were out again for aurora hunting at Grotta Island for our last try. There were a lot of cars coming in and out of the island, and one part of the narrow road was actually jammed while we waited for 2 cars to navigate out. So, do go early to get a spot.
After a long wait, for a short split second of staring into the night sky – we saw a faint green light snaking in the sky and we got excited.
But that was all, no more dancing lights. I guess we were really out of luck. 🙁
Day 9 – End of Iceland tour
The day began super early – we had to drop off our rental car before doing a final shopping in city center, then take a shuttle bus to Keflavik for our flight to London.
Luggage Lockers in Reykjavik
Since we had checked out and were returning our car, we needed a place to hold our luggage near to where we would be taking our shuttle bus.
We found Luggage Locker at Traðarkot – although it was slightly tricky to find as we didn’t know where to look – the lockers were inside a carpark. They also do have lockers in other places too, do check them out here if you need the lockers.
Getting anywhere by legs in Reykjavik
So at 8.30 am – we were at this very isolated region of Reykjavik to return the car to the rental office. After that, we were heading to our next itinerary, Bernhöfts Bakery, which was a 25 mins walk by foot.
This was raved as the oldest bakery – the bakery where local goes. And luckily it was opened early enough when we reached there. We needed something to juice out up energy in the morning. We tried a few pretzels, coffees, and the most amazing thing had to be Florentine cookies for me! The almond-y cookies coated with sugar was amazing. I bought another serving as well for later bites.
This bakery is also out of the touristy city center, and appeared to be located in residential area. Although it is out of the way, do check them out if you got time to spare.
We spent the rest of the time walking/shopping in the main city center. Along the way – sis ask me, “Can we go and buy the cinnamon bun again?” Lawls. So we went to Brauð & Co bakery again before making it for the shuttle bus.
All in all, anywhere within Reykjavik city center is possible by legs. Not much of a use of a car when you had to park so far away from your destination. And cinnamon buns are to die for!
Getting to Keflavik by Shuttle Bus
We could have just rented the car for another day and drove to Keflavik before returning it. But as it was winter season, and we are not exactly confident of handling unexpected weather like snowstorm. So let’s just leave it to the expert maneuver. We decided to get to Keflavik via Grayline Airport Express bus.
Along the way towards Keflavik, the sights was a lot different – felt like Mars – brown plains without greeneries. It might be an interesting region to explore if we had the time. And my sis was just sleeping right beside me tsk tsk. Haha.
We were still early when we reached the airport as I had planned in a lot of time in case of unexpected weather condition. So while we were waiting, we began to munch on lunch which consist of all the pastries, Skyr yoghurt, sandwiches that we had bought. Then, sis threw the remaining of the brown bags of messes into the bin.
It didn’t dawned upon me until like in the evening when we were at London. I was looking for my Florentine cookies – because I remembered I hadn’t eaten my second serving after I bought them. Both of us were looking for it in the luggage and everywhere – then sis recalled: was it in the brown bag that she had thrown away.
Smjor Butter Incident
Just one last funny story I had to tell. We were then clearing immigration and the officer stopped us after our bag scan. He took out a container from our backpack – this was the Smjor butter and was known as one of the best butter to try. Cows were fed with organic greens (no pesticides no insecticides), and no hormones and chemical stuff injected to the cows in order to harvest their milk.
With a grim look on his face, he told us, somewhere along the lines: this is considered liquid at room temperature, and the container size is more than the allowable 100ml. So, either we throw it away, or we have to finish it here.
“…finish it here…”
I lost it. I started cackling.
I mean who would recommend finishing an entire slab of butter – this was a newly bought butter and has like almost 200ml in it. Unless I want to get a heart attack right there. And this officer spoke with grim poker-face. He was serious about the suggestion!
Then he also let loose a small smile seeing me laughing. Hahaha~!
I couldn’t stop laughing, all the way till even now when I recalled this. I told my sis, this officer is perverse enough to even recommend me to finish it.
Anyways, in between the laugh, I told him we will throw it away.
Sadly, so we had no Icelandic butter for London, Switzerland, or even home. Should have packed it in luggage. 🙁
There were tons of memories and regret for this trip – especially missing out of the auroras, not waking up for the night time hunting, and we didn’t find an all exclusive ice cave tour.
We will definitely be back, perhaps for the full round trip next time, or even come back for winter. Although, not too excited for winter due to the unpredictable scary weather.
Here are the breakdown on our spending thus far for this part of the trip, and cost are shared among 2 pax. Car rental, accommodations, and petrol were omitted – please check out the trip report for full breakdown!
- Þingvellir (parking and toilet fees): 900 ISK
- City Walk Tip: XXXX ISK
- Famous Hot Dog Bun: 900 ISK
- Lunch at Reykjavik Fish Restaurant: 5060 ISK
- Pastries: 3875 ISK (huh so much!?!?)
- Grocery: 4300 ISK
- Luggage Locker: 2980 ISK