I woke up in my tiny room in Reykjavik, Iceland, and immediately clocked the darkness outside. Despite being 7am, it was still absolutely pitch black – something I knew about before my trip, but feels very odd in reality!
I got ready for the day ahead, and went to investigate what was on offer at the hotel breakfast. While the offerings were humble, they were more than enough to keep me fuelled, and making sure that I stayed in a hotel that included breakfast was definitely one of my wiser, and more cost effective decisions for this trip!
Following breakfast, my only plan for the day was to explore what Reykjavik had to offer. I had looked into some of the local museums and galleries and while there were a few that tickled my fancy, I decided that I didn’t want to book anything for the daytime in advance, and wanted to see where the day took me.
Reykjavik has two main shopping streets, so I started by having a wander around these, but it only took a few minutes of walking to realise that the delayed sunrise means nothing opens until much later. Most of the signs I saw on shop doors indicated that 10am and 11am were the standard opening times. With a couple of hours before anything was going to be open, I appreciated the calmness of the city, and decided to take a leisurely stroll to the waterfront, stopping to admire the many pieces of street art on the way. I watched the sunrise over mountains in the distance, and although cold and windy, it was rather magical.
I headed back to the main shopping streets just in time for places to start opening their doors, and headed immediately to Hús máls og Menningar. I’ve written about the venue in a bit more detail here, but basically, I was able to sit and write for a bit while enjoying a coffee and freshly cooked waffle, all while being surrounded by books! It was a great way to spend a few hours.
Wandering down the big hill in the centre of Reykjavik, I enjoyed more street art. Every couple of steps, a glimpse of mountains in the distance poked through gaps in side street views, and while I thought this was absolutely fantastical, it was clearly lost on locals who probably see it every day, as they hurried past without even glancing at the breathtaking view.
At the bottom of the hill, I found more contemporary (and less traditionally Icelandic) architecture, but to my joy, there was a little supermarket. I know I’m not alone in enjoying a foreign supermarket, but I truly believe that being able to wander the aisles, completely undisturbed is one of the great joys of solo travel, in my opinion. I bought a couple of things for later, and then queued up at a hotdog stand for my second inexpensive hotdog of the trip.
Travel fatigue left me feeling tired, so I went back to my hotel to rest and write for a few hours. After this, I headed back out into the city to find some inexpensive dinner that didn’t involve a hotdog. While there are many spectacular looking restaurants dotted around, I didn’t see any that catered to a small budget. What I did notice though, was a handful of excellent looking Asian eateries. I didn’t come to Iceland to eat Thai food, but it was cheap and delicious, so that’s exactly what I ended up doing.
No Northern Lights!
The final part of my day should have been the most exciting, but didn’t go to plan. I had booked myself onto a Northern Lights Iceland excursion, but to cut a long story short, the bus left without me, even though I had been waiting for it out in the cold, in the right place, for several hours. Dismayed, I headed to my hotel lobby where a wonderful member of staff helped by getting in touch with the company and getting them to add me to a tour the next day. I warmed up with a hot chocolate and called it a night!