Monkey’s Iceland Adventure

Meet Taro (太郎), aka Monkey. An adorable ‘coming of age day’ (成人の日)gift from my nan, he has been with me through all my travels since my younger days in Japan. Monkey featured in a post on Cyprus last year and now he’s back introducing Iceland using a much nicer camera!

Favourite shot of Monks in Old Harbour, Reykjavik

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Monks having his first Icelandic beer outside of Saegreifinn (The Sea Baron)

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Welcome sign outside of a whale and puffin tours ticket kiosk in Old Harbour, Reykjavik

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Icelandic troll — certainly not as cute as Moomin!

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We both love Hallgrímskirkja Church

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Just across the road from Eyjafjallajökull

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Eyjafjallajökull is one of the smaller ice caps of Iceland, situated north of Skógar and west of Mýrdalsjökull. Who would’ve thought such a harmless looking mountain could reek so much havoc!

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Eyjafjallajökull on 14 April 2010

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Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park

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Signs around Iceland

Ravenous In Reykjavik

Practically every restaurant in downtown Reykjavik is listed in a guidebook. This is not to say they aren’t all worth trying — some of the ones we discovered just from walking about town turned out to be better than the more widely advertised places. We were slightly afraid there wouldn’t be much fresh seafood to be had (like in South Island, New Zealand) but all in all, we really enjoyed all the tastiness, from land to sea, that Iceland had to offer.

Café Loki

I had the Icelandic plate III – two rye bread slices, one with mashed fish & the other with egg & herring. Both delish! I wasn’t sure what to expect with their rye bread ice cream but it was fabulous! Not too sweet and very light with tiny nibbles of rye.

Hubs and the G each tried a different meat soup offer, one with lamb paté, the other with smoked lamb. I’m not keen on lamb but I had a taste of hubby’s meat soup and it was actually quite nice. I highly recommend Café Loki if you’re looking for reasonably priced and tasty traditional Icelandic food. This easily makes my top two places to eat in Reykjavik.

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Café Loki – Icelandic plate III and meat soup offer

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (The Best Hot Dog In Town)

As I mentioned in 10 Things To Do In Reykjavik I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, but since these were supposed to be the best in town I decided to give them a try. Sadly, these wieners are nothing to write home about. The sauce was a bit rich and the hot dog itself was a bit thin. That said, they’re great for eating on the cheap or as a snack for when you’re still hungry after eating at places like Fiskmarkaðurinn!

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Baejarins Beztu Pylsur

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Fiskmarkaðurinn

I really want to say something positive about Fish Market so I’ll start by saying that the food here is nice. We got the tasting menu for three and were excited to delve into a sea of culinary bliss. This would be our one ‘fancy’ night out so we were ready to be impressed. Now here comes the BUT.

The portions were incredibly small to share between three ravenous people, even if there were ‘nine’ courses.  What you see below is all we got — one tiny plate for three per course. Again, the food here is nice but don’t be fooled by the presentation. There wasn’t any one dish that stood out to me. There was nothing distinct about the flavours and hence is at best average. This may make us seem like food snobs (which we aren’t) but having dined in more than our fare share of nice restaurants in London and abroad, I cannot say that we were the least bit impressed.

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Fish Market – Fiskmarkaðurinn

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Tapas Barinn

We’d learned our lesson from Fiskmarkaðurinn and decided to order whatever we fancied instead of sticking to a set menu.  We were so glad we did!  We ordered about three to four dishes each to share and ended up spending far less than we did at Fish Market and didn’t have to make another stop at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur again!

I suppose the best way to gauge if you like a restaurant is to ask yourself if you’d come back again. The answer for us, of course, was yes!  And so the hubs and I came back here again after G went home.  The second time we ordered some of our favourites from the first meal as well as some new dishes, which included oven baked saltfish (nyom!)  — total of about six dishes for two people and were sufficiently full.

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Tapas Barinn: dinner for three! The smoked puffin with blueberry brennivín sauce and the fillet of Icelandic foal with Calvados sauce were among the more adventurous things we tried.

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Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron Restaurant)

To my disappointment, they didn’t have the sea-agra soup when we were here but the lobster soup was tasty (though I wish it contained massive chunks of lobster in it — it was more like lobster broth).  All in all, a great place for a light lunch or snack.

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Saegreifinn – The Sea Baron:  Lobster soup, fresh salmon, scallop and red fish (which is actually a white flesh fish) kebabs with some potato salad

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Hressingarskálinn

I debated whether or not to add Hressingarskálinn to this list as the food here has zero wow factor but I guess you would say it’s reasonably priced and it’s decent.  If you’re not picky about food and just want something simple to eat, then this is your place (along with Laundromat Cafe, which I will blog about later).

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More Icelandic mashed fish on rye, fish soup and a very ‘meh-it-does-the-job’ burger

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Geysir Bistro and Bar

I didn’t know much about Geysir but was pleasantly surprised and glad that we had dinner here.  The food was well prepared and presented, not to mention all very tasty!  We especially enjoyed the Icelandic pancakes with rhubarb jam and whipped cream. So light and fluffy and not too sweet!

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Geysir Bistro & Bar – not your run-of-the-mill fish and chips, seafood tagliatelle, Icelandic ‘skyr’ cake with strawberries and white chocolate and Icelandic pancakes

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10 Things To Do In Reykjavik

We’re getting very excited for our first trip to Iceland, which is now less than two months away!  We’ll have about a week to explore the island, with Reykjavik as our home base.  We’ve opted to try Airbnb for the first time and look forward to what will hopefully turn out to be a very lovely flat! Here are some of the things that are on my priority of to do’s, most of which seem to involve food (ufufu).  Being a first-timer, I’m afraid my list is a bit ‘touristy’ so please let us know if you have any favourite local restaurants or spots that we should check out!

  1. Blue Lagoon – One of the main reasons we’re going to Iceland is to have a soak in a geothermal spa and cake ourselves in white mud. I look forward to reporting back on the experience.
  2. Gullfoss Waterfall – We prefer to avoid ‘popular tourist destinations’ as much as possible but some places are simply too beautiful to miss.  We weren’t impressed with any of the ‘waterfalls’ we saw Down Under but I have a feeling Gullfoss may just take our breath away!
  3. Bonus – I absolutely love wandering up and down the aisles of foreign supermarkets so of course I must visit Iceland’s top discount chains.
  4. Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (The Best Hot Dog In Town) – I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, but I’m willing to give everything a try especially if they’re supposed to be the best in town!
  5. Kolaportið – I hope there will be time to have a poke around the weekend flea market at the Old Harbour. I hope it’s nothing like Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets as that was a complete fail (we stayed all of 5 seconds had to leave due to the overwhelming odour of mothballs).  But this place sounds promising and may be a good place to hunt for some great craft and souvenir stalls. I can’t leave without my Icelandic tourist tat!
  6. Sægreifinn (The Sea Baron Restaurant) – I’d love to try their lobster soup and also the sea-agra soup, which key ingredient is sea cucumber. In fact, I’d like to try a bit of everything on their menu!
  7. Fiskmarkaðurinn – There are so many tasty looking dishes that I want to try here.  It will hopefully be a nice spot for a welcome to Iceland and long overdue reunion dinner with G.
  8. Kringlan / Smáralind Shopping Mall – No holiday is complete without a bit of shopping (I can hear my hubby moaning about it already, but hey we’ll be on holiday)!
  9. Hallgrímskirkja Church – I love how unusual this church looks, like something from a fantasy novel and would like to take my own photos of the magnificent structure. I’ve heard there are quite a few unique churches so I hope we’ll stumble upon some others during our adventures around the city and beyond.
  10. Tapas Barinn – From the reviews, it seems this would be a great place to sample a variety of local Icelandic delights. I hope the food is as tasty as it looks on their website!