Day 3: The City Walk Tour & Shopping
So – late start to the morning…
Knowing that we had a tour planned for the early afternoon provided a built-in excuse to sleep in a bit later and make breakfast at the AirBnB, instead of running right out into the city like we normally would have. We also got a call from Pink Iceland (the city’s LGBT-friendly tour company) that they wanted to start a bit earlier, which was perfect for us. Instead of 2pm, we were going to start around 1/1:30pm – so we finished up and headed across the city to get to their main office. Once there we were greeted and offered fresh coffee (yes, please). Shortly afterward one of the co-owners (Hannes) came out and gave us a private tour! The bonus of being here in February, not quite as many tourists, so if you can deal with the colder and ever-changing weather I highly recommend it. So far this week both of our tours turned into private excursions – I think this is what they call #winning.
Over the course of about 2 hours, Hannes walked us from the Pink Iceland office along a ton of culturally and societily-relevant sites and locations, including:
The location of the first openly gay bar (co-owned by him “back in the day”)
The Reykjavík Art Museum Hafnarhús (which used to be the Custom’s House)
I’m not including much detail on the actual tour itself because if you’re in Iceland highly recommend booking the tour, or another excision, through Pink Iceland – they were awesome to us all week. The tour stopped at IDA Bookshop & Cafe, which I suspect that we’ll be back before we fly out for more americano and book shopping. While we were there we sat and talked about our common love of dogs, being married, and the short, but powerful LGBT history of Iceland.
Afterwards, Hassen walked us through some of the downtown area (as I refer to it as) and closed the tour at the statue of Jón Sigurðsson, who is known as the Father of Iceland. From this park we were able to see the country’s (Reykjavik) Cathedral and parliamentary building.
Fun Fact – approximately half of the newly elected representatives go to the blessing at the Cathedral and half go to a similar, secular ceremony with the Humanist Association (These are rough tour numbers, don’t hold me to it strictly).
From here, Hassen directed us to Glo, where we had a quick, but awesome late lunch – great if you need veggie-friendly options for folks in your group (raises hand). A little bit of everything, but focuses on fresh, local, etc. – all the trendy and healthy stuff we typically look for today. So – refusing to give up just yet, we walked around a bit afterward to window shop…this, of course, turned into real shopping at some of the co-op artist studios that seem to line the more popular streets of Reykjavik. And this obviously turned into a recommendation for a bar from a local artist.
Her initial recommendation was Kaldi (or the bar across the way, depending on our taste in drinks). Kaldi would have typically been our speed – local, lots of wood, warm lighting, local beer…but the place was packed with what we assume was a wedding party out celebrating. Still refusing to give up on our afternoon just yet, we headed across the way from Kaldi to recommendation #2 named Vedur. Good bar – GREAT happy hour prices. This is where I learned about the happy hour app in Iceland. Since everything is so expensive the happy hours are a great way to have a few drinks without spending the equivalent of a white tablecloth dinner.
Fully satiated, we agreed to hit up a local grocery store for some bites to bring back to the AirBnB – the plan being to relax, blog, upload some photos, nap (in Bren’s case), and then head back out for a beer or two at Kiki. Unfortunately, my googling failed us a bit and Kiki was closed when we headed back out, but we did end up going next door to Bravo, which was equally great and probably a bit more relaxing. I’ll be able to update you on that assumption later, as we currently plan to end Wednesday night at Kiki – we’re thinking a few drinks at a gay bar will soften the blow packing for him will deal later that night.