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ICELANDIC GETAWAY

Posted on February 23 2016

As a shop owner, I love what I do, but we all need a break every now and then. Quick getaways are the perfect chance to reboot and I try to work them in whenever possible.  With Anthony on a trip to Germany that resulted a layover in Reykjavik,  we both thought what the heck, why not meet up on the way back and spend a few days in this part of the world that seems to be on everyone's radar these days.  Iceland Air has a great option they call the “Stop Over” allowing folks to stay for a few extra days at no added charge. 

 

Once tickets were set, we tapped into our network of friends who visited Reykjavik to soak up recommendations and compiled list of sights, shops, coffee, restaurants and bars we wanted to hit on our short stay.  

Day one we kicked off a still dark morning with some tasty baked goods at Bakari Sandholt.  Those delightful treats were followed by a relaxing walk along the waterfront, eventually warming back up with coffee at Kaffi Vinyl, accompanied by sounds of Al Green spinning on the turntables.  Music of all kinds is intertwined into the Icelandic culture.  We picked up bits and pieces of it everywhere (you'll find some of our favorite local artists in the Spotify playlist below) and for a country with a population of just over 300,000, they turn out some incredible bands, many of which perform at the annual Iceland Airwaves festival where our beloved KEXP broadcasts live each year.

 

Late morning on day one took us to a local bike shop (of course) where Kria Cycles featured all the high end Specialized goodness that our H+A cycling team rides, along with a plethora of studded tire options for navigating the icy bike paths. Down the street via a sloshy jaunt through the wet snow led us to Farmers & Friends, a great local brand featuring their own line of Icelandic style good - think lots of wool and textural pieces along with local music and books selections.  With all the chilly trekking about, we eventually hit a wall and needed some fuel. We hit up lunch at Glo, a vegetarian joint featuring a daily revolving menu and the best condiment selection ever....free homemade hummus and crunchy grainy toasts, yes please!  Someone needs to bring this concept to the PNW stat!

We ventured into every nook and cranny of the historic shopping district stumbling upon great spots like Spark, a design space operating on a "slow shop" concept. They feature local designers and their work on a rotating exhibition schedule. After the exhibition they stock the items from the show in their shop and very slowly build up a stock of things they love. Hurra Reykjavik and Suit Reykjavik were others that showed us a glimpse of how the locals shop for stylish menswear.  Of all the great shops we ventured into, one that stood out for not only product, but shop design, was Geysir. Known for pieces that balance between tradition and modernity, existing in one-off spaces with creative design details.  After numerous other stops, we exhausted ourselves and needed a drink. It was off to the spot recognized by any KEXP listener,  Kex Hostel,  to relax over libations before dinner.

Dinner was eclectic pizza at the quirky and cool Mikkeller & Friends,  sister restaurant to the famous award winning Dill.  A great little relaxed spot with unique pizzas, drinks and 20+ beers on tap.  It was worth the trip for the cool graphic nature of the menu alone, not to mention the scrumptious food.

Day two kicked off with some perfectly crafted spro at Reykjavik Roasters accompanied by a sunrise over the epic Hallgrímskirkja Church (FYI – sunrise is at 10am this time of year).  It was the perfect way to start the adventure filled day we had planned. 

Boarding a bus full of tourists is usually the last thing we want to do, but missing the incredible countryside here would have been sad, and as much as we would have loved to charter our own personal Land Rover to get out of town we had to be realistic about this last minute day trip.  Before boarding, we helped ourselves to a hot dog at Baejarins Beztu. For some odd reason, the Icelandic folk love them...the crispy onions were a nice touch, but you won't find me on a hot dog diet any time soon. The tour of the “Golden Circle” led us to a quick stop at the original settlement of Iceland, then on to the Gullfoss Falls, where it was as cold as shit! About thirty minutes of experiencing the beauty was overshadowed by the bone chilling cold compounded by wind and nothing in sight to break the breeze.  Last stop on tour was Geysir, the original namesake of the word “geyser”.  Geysir erupts approximately every 7 minutes – which we can vouch for, but this spouting hot spring has nothing on Old Faithful...sorry Iceland.  The geyser blew and it was back to the bus for the final ride back to Reykjavik.

 

 

A well-earned dinner at Snaps Bistro awaited our arrival back in town and did not disappoint.  A bustling restaurant with a New York feel delivered as promised with apps, salads and mains on par with any we’ve had around the globe.  The vibrant atmosphere and accompanying warmth of alcohol in our veins topped off a chilly day in style. 

Our final day began with coffee and checking out Reykjavik City Hall ending up the Sundhöll Reykjavíkur public baths. Sounds odd, but we felt like we couldn't leave Iceland without at least trying one.  And we have to admit, after a few days of tromping around in the cold, sitting in a outdoor geothermal spa with some old locals and the snow falling on our heads was pretty awesome.  One more trip back through the city to hit up a few spots we missed like 12 Tonar records to grab a few musical gifts and a cool little design shop called My Concept Store for some unique souvenirs.  Last, but not least, on our list was tucked away Kormakur & Skjoldur for another great menswear shop experience. They featured a great mix of goods along with an in-shop barber and attentive staff.  Knowing we accomplished a lot in a little, we treated ourselves to one last coffee at Mokka, the first original coffeehouse in Reykjavik. 

 
We can’t say enough about how many awesome and diverse experiences we had.  From the food, to the style to the geography, Iceland is truly an awesome place.  Till next time, and there will be a next time (preferably in Summer),  Sjáumst síðar!  - H+A 

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