Adventures in Iceland - Day 0-1

I've never been a warm climate creature, so northern countries have always topped my bucket list as priority travel destinations. I have not traveled much in my life except for short domestic distances in Canada, one visit to the eastern United States more than 15 years ago, and 3 stays of various lengths in Japan. Longing to get to a fourth country on my list, I got an ad on social media for a flight deal leaving from Montreal to Reykjavik, Iceland. Deal was sealed. I am now back home with hundreds of pictures and video to showcase here, which I'll start right now !

(***Click all pictures for a bigger version !***)

The deal was an incredibly affordable flight that made me jump on the very unplanned purchase to start looking into my dream stay in Iceland ! The best news ? A couple days later, my friend jumped on the wagon and reserved a flight to come with me ! We were both stoked and started discussing and writing itineraries right away. Fast forward to 4 months later, we left Montreal on march 12th. 

We flew WoWAir, even though a couple reviews online gave it a bad light. After flying with them, I can confirm these reviews are possibly written by people who had expectations that were very unrealistic considering the good price you pay to fly with them, or believe they deserve way more than they do. They do offer everything at a cost (seat reservation, baggage, food) but knowing this, we had no surprise and were prepared. I do recommend this airline strongly for their good price and good service ! We had two flights with no issues and will fly again with this company would they be on a flight destination I want to go to ! 

March 12th, Montréal, QC.
WowAir Flight WW252
(GMT -5:00) 17:55 --- KEF (GMT 0:00) 4:25 

Before flying, we took a last comfortable meal at Archibald Resto-Bar at YUL. My sister works at another location of this franchise so I knew we were in for a treat. I suggest visiting them if you are in Quebec or have a layover at YUL Airport !

(Shrimp tacos and hummus kale salad)

Then, we went in to board our approximately 5 hour flight. Overall we were glad with our experience with WoWAir as I previously mentioned. Our only minus point was the ventilation issues on our first flight which made the cabin incredibly hot, and made it hard to sleep. But the seats were reasonable and not much smaller than on the same size airplane from other companies (3 seats each side of the aisle). The flight went very well with no delays and no issue at all and we landed safely in Keflavik International Airport at around 4:30 AM, Iceland time. 

Our itinerary for the day was half planned, with only a couples specific spots we really wanted to see with time left to explore and take it slow. We landed and went right to hop on the FlyBus, which I also recommend for your travel between the Airport and Reykjavik if you don't have a rental car planned. 

The ride was smooth and took us about 45 minutes to be dropped off at the BSI Bus Terminal. Most hotels and touristic spots are at least a 15 minute walk so if you have luggage, I do recommend doing like us and booking the hotel city transfer. We boarded a smaller van that took us in central Reykjavik, close to Laugavegur street, where our breakfast destination was located. We had set eyes on the SandHolt Bakery, which had good reviews online and had an opening time of 7:00 AM, which we needed since we were dropped off in the city at 6:30 AM. 

The vibe was lovely, the food excellent. I had a ham and cheese croissant, made by a lovely baker you can see from your sitting place, and a latté. Price : 1560 Isk (~20$)

Sandholt Bakery
Laugavegur 36
101 Reykjavik
Open 7:00

After our bellies were filled with yumminess, we walked a little bit more as we had to wait for 8 AM to go drop our bags off at our hostel. Walking by a street that went down towards the shore, we saw the mountain in the distance, and decided to go see the view and then walk back to the hostel. And what we saw when we came down was mindblowingly beautiful. It was the Sólfarið (Sun Voyager). 

The Sun Voyager is on the shore and easily found if you walk along the water to Harpa concert hall. It is an easily walk-able distance from Hallgrimskirkja church. With the morning sun bonus, we were treated to the best view. 

After this excursion, we traveled to our hostel for a bag drop off. We had chosen the Reykjavik Hostel Village, which appealed to me for his low price and good location for solo rooms in a hostel. 

(My room in Snorri building, in the basement. My friend
had a similar room upstairs. Comfortable !)

I booked my trip with Booking.com where you can get 25$ credit if you visit my link ! Booking.com is a website of choice for me with many travelers' pictures, reviews, and nice support team, reminders and tools ! 

My Special Link ! Click for 25$ !

The Hostel is very well located (5 minutes walk from the large church, 15 minutes from the main shopping street...)
The staff was extremely helpful and nice, the booking was quick ! We even had our rooms ready when we arrived (8:30 AM, instead of the usual 2 PM check-in), I even had a lower price than expected (almost half price !), and my friend got an upgrade for a solo room instead of her 4 bed dorm she had reserved !
Overall, a wonderful surprise and a very good deal ! They do offer breakfast if you want, can help you book excursions, have free wifi in all rooms and shared bathrooms that are well cared for. If you are looking for an affordable but comfortable stay I do recommend Reykjavik Hostel Village

Going out after emptying our backpacks and getting ready for adventures we walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, towering over the small city. I *love* churches, and I was pumped about visiting this one, especially for their chandelier (... I know, I'm something lol). The neo-gothic architecture is glorious along with the minimal design and style inside. We even got a glimpse of the organ playing ! We however decided not to go up the tower this time, as we didn't want to deal with the crowd up there (there was a lineup for the elevator at 9h~ am) and pay 10$ for it.


Right out of the church, there are many streets to see and explore, including Laugavegur, which I spoke about earlier. We did walk around to take a couple pictures of the colorful houses and special little corners before lunch ! 


Getting a little hungry after walking all morning and getting tired from travelling, we stopped at Café Loki, just in front of Hallgrimskirkja. It was lovely and the food seemed yummy.
I say seemed because at that point, my body just started to shut down from the exhaustion and I started feeling dizzy, and crying uncontrollably under my sunglasses at our table. I couldn't eat much of the nice meat soup I had (the little bites I had were delicious though). My friend was kind enough to ask the waiter to pack the soup for me to keep while I had a breather at the bathroom, which was really nice of them. Because of all this, I don't have a picture to showcase the nice meal my friend had, but I do recommend stopping ! They have nice tasting plates of classical Icelandic favorites so I do believe it is a nice experience to try !

Kaffi Loki
Lokastigur 28
101 Reykjavik
Open 9:00 - 21:00 most days

The emotion and exhaustion got the best of me, so my friend suggested I would go take a nap at the hostel, while she explored some more (what a trooper !). 
Left alone at the hostel, I get ready to take my nap, go out to the bathroom.... and lock myself out of my room.
I'm alone in the hall, barefoot, in my pyjama pants. Unsure if I should go out in short sleeves to walk to the main building 4 minutes away to ask for another key, I check for options. I find a button on the wall for emergencies, which I decide to press. The reception answered me, and ended up sending someone to open the door for me ! Thankfully, it was still early afternoon because after 4 pm that would have cost me a whole pile of icelandic kronas... Haha. Thanks to the helpful staff !
I ended up sleeping about 1.5 hour to reset everything and help my body survive until our nice dinner at 7 PM.

Up and running again around 3h PM, I joined my friend who picked me up to go walk around a little more. We went back to check out what she saw by herself during her walk, around the Tjörnin Pond and the City Hall. We saw many ducks ! 

Ráðhús Reykjavíkur - City Hall
Tjarnargata 11
Open 8:00 - 20:00 everyday

(Did I mention I love churches ? 💙)

We walked a lot, quacked with the duckies a lot, and then tried to make our way towards our car rental location. The Harpa concert hall was on our way, so we stopped for a couple pictures, of course, and we checked out the souvenir shop inside. We missed the evening lights that illuminate it and show patterns on the building's surface, but it does look cool in the daytime too ! 

And then madness ensued as we got slightly lost in the city trying to get to our car rental agency for 5 PM (our reservation time). Thankfully, my friend had a better map than I did (more precise and zoomed in with actual street names) and we ended up walking fast and finding it just on time !

I rented with CarsIceland, which is associated with Blue Car Rental. Our experience was wonderful ! We had reserved a small 2WD car advertised as a VW Golf or Kia Soul (or similar if these two were not available). We got a Kia Rio 2018 (!!) with about 3000km in, so it was probably on its second or third trip only. It was super clean, and the office staff was very welcoming as well. Off we went with our ride !

Since we planned to go south on a road trip the next day, we stopped by Bonus grocery store to get some snacks and food for our lunch and stops through the day. We got crackers, some bread and spread for sandwiches, cookies, fruit and Skyr yogurt, of course ! Everything was very yummy, and we had enough snacks for two days for us both, for the price of around 2600 ISK ! (~30$).

We got flat bread (6), bananas (4 big), 3x Skyr (pear, apple and creme brulee (!!)), crackers (sour cream & onion, and bacon, which were delicious), some fruit juice boxes, snack bars, hummus and peanut butter, and not shown because my friend kidnapped the box, chocolate covered Oreos ! Also my super cool looking chocolate bar with geometric bats on it, which I bought at the store at Harpa. We recommend visiting a grocery store (either Netto, Kronan or Bonus) to get snacks if you hit the road to save some bucks ! 

Lastly, we had reserved a spot at the glass dome, ex-geothermal water reservoir, Perlan. My friend loves watching stars and astronomy, and even though we didn't reserve late enough for that, we did have a very special view ! We had places for 7 PM at Ut I Blainn, Perlan's 5th floor restaurant, directly under the glass dome. 

(Cod with beurre blanc and potatoes, with leg of lamb and wild mushroom sauce.
Respectively 3700 isk, and 45 isk (~48 and 56$, drink not included)

The view is astonishingly beautiful, the place is comfortable, the food is asbolutely delicious and the portions are bigger than I expected ! I didn't completely finish my lamb, definitely generous portions. 

After this long day of walking, eating, getting lost a little, experiencing my first icelandic roads and turnabouts (never drove through these before ! I love them !), we went to bed exhausted and a little stressed out about the long drive the next day... But super excited ! 

Day 2 : South Iceland and Waterfalls ! To come soon ! 


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