In search of peace of mind and maybe some answers to life’s many questions we are back in enchanting Iceland. With its diverse fjords, expansive farm land, clear lakes and majestic mountains we are confident that it will provide both adventure and relaxation. As soon as we land in Keflavik, the multi award winning airport, our favourite thing is to do is visit the nearby magical Blue Lagoon for the ever blissful experience of taking a leisurely walk or swim in milky blue geothermal seawater and indulge in an underwater massage, thus getting rid of the city, the worries, the work mode and literally wash away our troubles.
It's important to hire a sturdy and reliable car for travelling around the country, especially in the winter months as the weather conditions can be unpredictable. Our favourite choice is Iceland 4x4 Car Rental. We have chosen to go slightly off the beaten track finding our first destination in Hveragerdi, a small rural town 50 km east of Reykjavik, known for its extensive greenhouses and geothermal cooking. Frost and Fire Hotel is a charming and welcoming place making good use of the abundant hot water omnipresent in this friendly town, we can even cook our own eggs for breakfast in the geothermal pods outside the hotel, best enjoyed with mouth-watering steamed rye bread. Dinner is later served where we sample the local trout and the many local delicacies finding this a comfortable and snug hotel to start our journey.
The following morning we drive south towards the coastline and arrive in the equally charming seaside village of Eyrarbakki, staying in one of the Sea Side Cottages, a tastefully refurbished and characterful house from the late 19th century. Now no longer a major fishing port, the town is known for presenting a rare collection of old houses and cottages from times long past. The celebrated Red House Restaurant in the heart of the village opposite the church gives you a glimpse of days past with an interesting collection of photographs depicting what the town was like when the fishing industry and port were thriving. We opt for the signature pasta lobster and later we sample the local nightlife at the Red House joining the locals twisting off some of that delicious food, enjoying live music from the local band.
As we continue our trip we arrive in the vibrant Reykjavik and pick out a small selection of some of the best eateries in town. One of our favourite places by the harbour is one that the local people have great affection for and contrary to many short-lived venues has been there for a very long time. The family run Kaffivagninn remains true to its humble beginnings as a provider of hearty meals and refreshment for the fishermen and dockside workers but has acquired a slightly more modern feel with its harbour facing veranda thoroughly enjoyable on a pleasant summer’s day. A traditional fish stew with steamed rye bread or a pan-fried catch of the day will not disappoint. This is simple, uncomplicated cooking at its best.
Among the plethora of good restaurants in the old part of Reykjavik we head for the Sushi bar Sakebarinn the following day, certainly one of the best Sushi restaurants downtown and try their very delectable sushi with every imaginable combination available. This proves to be another feast of unforgettable taste and can’t be beaten for freshness and with its spirited location it is a great place to go if you want to head out into the nightlife afterwards.
Reykjavik has gained yet another landmark to contribute to its profile of distinctive modern buildings in the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. Home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and a host to internationally renowned artists Harpa has secured its place as a centre point of culture and entertainment. As elsewhere in the buoyant downtown you will find a multitude of shops catering for tourists selling Icelandic crafts, books and records as well as a delightful flower and gift shop. You might well want to end your busy day here enjoying the hospitality of Kolabrautin, a modern restaurant where the selection of Icelandic ingredients blends well with the best of Mediterranean cuisine.
Before leaving Reykjavik we are advised to visit a restaurant where you will find inspiring traditional Icelandic cuisine. The chefs at Matur og drykkur (Food and drink) claim to take the good old traditional recipes and the best Icelandic ingredients to create fun and tasty food. Let tradition surprise you they say and didn’t it just! We left it to the chef to surprise us with a request for fish forgetting to mention that this would be preferred without the visual impact of a head or a tail. To a gasp of surprise and slight shock we are served one of their delicacies, a full cod’s head! It is bottoms up to muster some courage to try part of it starting with the cheeks, reluctantly. Once past the visual effect the taste is sublime as is the rest of the food served. It would certainly not go amiss to visit this place for a true taste of Iceland.