Impressions of Iceland

After a bumpy landing in Reykjavik at 6am, we hopped on the Flybus airport shuttle, an hour-long journey from Keflavik airport which dropped us right outside our ‘guesthouse’, the name of which was far more luxurious than the reality.

I may have just been over-tired (and struggling with a head cold), but my first impressions of Iceland left me feeling somewhat depressed. A vast, empty landscape stretched as far as the horizon with not a tree or living creature in sight. The only colour was the moss that carpeted black lava fields, formed by volcanoes that were hidden from sight by a low, grey mist; even the ocean looked colourless and forbidding. Words such as ‘desolate’ and ‘barren’ formed in my mind as we drove through this unforgiving landscape.

The landscape that welcomed us to Iceland

As we reached the outskirts of the world’s most northerly capital, however, the sun started coming up, trees appeared on the horizon and evidence of human life became apparent. We were dropped outside the Guesthouse Pavi at about 7am to discover that check-in wasn’t until 1pm, and their idea of luggage storage was to leave it on the staircase in the open. We left our suitcases but kept all of our valuables on us and headed into downtown Reykjavik to check out the city. Apparently nothing happens in Iceland before about midday on a Sunday; Friday and Saturday are big nights out in Reykjavik and the evidence of this was strewn across the streets in the form of plastic cups, wrappers and broken glass. Impressively, though, this was all cleaned up by the end of the morning.

Church in Reykjavik

Downtown Reykjavik - bustling on a Sunday morning

We walked around the city, admiring the beautiful buildings, the picturesque harbour and the large lake; eventually we found a coffee shop, Kaffitar, which served a delicious coffee and played great jazz music. We were glad to have a warm and comfortable place to sit and put our bags down, and as soon as we could check into our hostel, we grabbed our bags (which were thankfully still there) and slept until about 9pm, when we went out for a lovely dinner of traditional Icelandic fish stew and lobster salad.

Although not an ideal introduction to this new and strange country, I was feeling slightly less depressed than when we arrived, and looking forward to the following day, when we were to explore the country further.

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