I worked on a tv show years ago that sent teams all over the world racing against each other for a cash prize at the end. The show was (and still is) fascinating in how the teams play against each other, even against themselves, but also for the incredible locations we were sending them to. One season I was asked to research everything I could about Iceland for the upcoming season. I knew nothing about the country, but soon fell completely in love with the idea of Iceland. Fast forward nearly 10 years of it being on the top of my destinations list (along side New Zealand) and here I sit, typing this to you from Reykjavik. Unreal.

I haven’t taken a proper vacation in a number of years. Me and a couple old friends, Matt & Jacob, have been talking about doing a trip together for some time. We started discussing Iceland nearly two years ago. Time inched by, discussions came and went, but nothing concrete formed. We circled back around and came to the decision that we HAD to do this. And here I sit, quite a bit of time later. (My point of encouragement here is to stop talking and start doing… or at least planning. I live in a city of talkers but not enough doers. I am as guilty as anyone as far as this goes. But let’s get with it, eh?)

The plan was to spend around 9 days in Iceland, a few in the main city, Reykjavik, and then to rent a car and drive around the rest of the country, camping and exploring the otherworldly landscape.

We left Nashville Thursday afternoon and flew to New York City with a several hour layover at JFK.

 

From JFK it’s a 5 hour and change flight to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Once in Reykjavik, we had the easiest Immigration experience I think I’ve had in ANY country. Ever. “How long will you be here, sir?”. Stamp. Done.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. Once you get your bag you’re bombarded with LOTS of tourist information and several options to get to the city. The airport is actually 50+ kilometers from the city itself. There are several bus options as well as taxi options to get you there. Not sure where the bus services were going to drop us off, and after doing some research beforehand, we THOUGHT that it would be cheaper to take a taxi. Nope.

After a bit of confusion on where to go, were there multiple taxi services, etc., we got into a big van after the driver told us the price. Being a bit tired from not sleeping, none of us really sorted out exactly how much he quoted us, which ended up being more than double what it would have been had we taken the bus service. Live and learn. However, if you’re planning on going to Iceland, PAY ATTENTION to that part and sort out all your options.

I was honestly a little grumpy at that point, realizing the mistake we had made and kicking myself because I should have known better. Once I really started paying attention to the landscape my mood radically shifted. I felt like I was on another planet. The hills, the moss everywhere, the low hanging clouds, the way that the light was dancing off of every surface… I was stunned. I have never seen anything quite like it.

In the planning stages of the trip, we were looking at various hotel options, hostels, etc… none of them were ideal and most were really, really expensive. I had heard of airbnb.com before, but never had any use for it and always thought these types of services could be a bit sketchy. Since we were striking out on other accommodations, we decided to take a gamble and contact a few of the renters. We settled on an apartment that had a few nice photos, but since we didn’t know anything about the city layout, it was seriously like taking a shot in the dark. Where would this place be? Was it close to ANYTHING or in the middle of nowhere? How were we going to get around? Could we walk? Did buses come that way?

Our taxi driver brought us into what seemed like a cool part of the city, but we still had no idea where we were, where we were going, how much further, on and on and on… we saw The Hallgrímskirkja, the largest and most famous church in Iceland. I remember seeing the images from doing a google search and was blown away. It seemed so alien in nature fromt the photos, and it certainly did not disappoint in real life. We circled around the church and began to slow down. Surely this isn’t the area we’re staying in? There’s no way we lucked into staying right by this insane church structure with these beautiful homes and winding side streets feeding down to the water, right in the middle of the heart of the city. There is NO WAY we actually lucked into the PERFECT situation.

Alas, we lucked into the perfect situation.

We had a couple of hours before we could check in to our apartment so we wandered around the church, I snapped far too many photos, and then we trekked down the hill and found a little cafe to grab a warm drink while we killed time.

That’s another thing. It’s chilly. 50’s for highs, 40’s for lows. Its perfect. After an absolutely ridiculous summer, I welcome the nip in the air with open arms.

We walked into the tiny cafe and placed our orders. I ordered a cappuccino, having no idea what to expect as far as quality goes. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. I haven’t had a cap that good in ages (outside of a secret, undisclosed location in Nashville that I cannot talk about). Everything was falling into place perfectly, even the coffee!

We checked into the apartment at noon, again having no idea what to expect, and were thrilled. The place is perfect for what we need, SO MUCH BETTER than a hotel. We have 3 beds, a living room area, a kitchen with utensils, and a bathroom, right in the heart of the arts district in Reykjavik. I. Am. So. Happy.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the city, deciding what we want to check out while we’re actually in the city over the next couple of days. There are cafes, art galleries, pubs, restaurants and boutiques everywhere… little gems hidden off of side streets, side streets that open up into courtyards and plazas. There is artwork and graffiti everywhere, and it is all so unique and interesting and provocative. All 3 of us quickly fell in love with the city.

Yep. This was my first meal in Iceland. Don’t laugh. Hot dogs are a big deal here.
These babies came from Bæjarins beztu pylsur.
Bill Clinton and James Hetfield have both eaten here, so you know it must be good. (and it was) (don’t judge)

If I were a full time author, I would do everything I could to come and write here for a month or two. Same for you musicians, artists, ANYONE that needs to get away and find new bursts of inspiration. This is a captivating little city with a lot to offer. I’m looking forward to checking out some of the art galleries and exhibits tomorrow, as well as catching the heart and vibe of the city itself. 2 more days in Reykjavik, and then Monday morning we’re pulling out of town early to start exploring the island.

I’m going to be blogging as much as I can about the experience, but don’t trust me on this, I’m probably going to be distracted.