Three quarters of Icelanders live in or around Reykjavik. That still only makes about 200.000 people, but I can assure you that after 2.5 weeks of glaciers, offroading and general desolation this felt like New York City to me. Three lane “highways”, traffic lights and the need to actually consult a map to find things. We were officially in a big city.
Upon arrival, our first port of call was the house of an old colleague of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in about 10 years, but that’s what Facebook is for (it’s actually the only good use for it). We met the whole family and had a super nice evening. Dinner was very tasty, the various kids interacted despite not having a joint language and being of very different ages and we learned a ton about Iceland that you can only learn when you talk to locals. Thank you Gudrun for having us and congrats Snorri on a well run 10k the next morning!
After spending the night in our caravan on their driveway we were ready to explore. Actually, we first needed to secure a spot on the city camp site because – somewhat coincidentally – we had picked the day of the biggest party of the year. I am convinced that every(!) single inhabitant of Reykjavik was on the street.
The whole city center was pedestrianised, food, games for kids, a Viking village, concerts, a marathon – everything was happening at once. We sat on the sidewalk and watched/helped Liam draw with chalk for 30mins, we watched some sword practice, we practiced hoola hoops (anyone remember that?). Liam even hitched a ride with a member of the local Harley club. We did manage to see the church and get some good views but the rest of time was spent by just ambling through the city. And the best thing was that all of it happened in amazing sunshine.
The day after the festival we had some time for more traditional sightseeing. The impressive whale museum has life-size replicas, which Liam dutifully measured (a blue whale is 47 Liam steps). And the Perlan has an amazing 360° platform from which you can see all the way to Snæfellsjoküll.
We debated if to do the Blue Lagoon. It is unquestionably one of THE most famous things to do in Iceland, but struck us as potentially overhyped. When we decided to go for it, we realised that pre-bookings were essential. Having never had to plan ahead until now, we had failed to do so. Frantic refreshing of the booking page for a few hours eventually offered up a single option, which we quickly grabbed. Verdict: Very well-done experience in general (complete with in-lagoon bar), but overrun with tourists to the extent where it gets annoying. Also, there was essentially nothing to do for kids, so Liam quickly got bored. Overall, I prefer the “regular” pools.