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Good Advice, Unsolicited Advice

Thanks to Kristen for this link from "The World's Best Bars."

Also, if you're into the cutting edge noise of Einar Orn he'll be playing Friday in London at the Tate Art Gallery as part of their Late at the Tate series.

Good Advice, Unsolicited Advice: Welcome to the newest secton of Reykjavik: The Blog. As time goes on I'll build this section around my thoughts and, far more importantly to those of you who seek useful advice, Kristen's as well as any other advice I pick up from various sources. If you want to be a "various sources" please leave your personal advice on Reykjavik in the comments below or email them to me and I will post them here.

First bits of advice. Here is some of the advice that Kristen offered someone who is considering a trip to Reykjavik this November. I've also chimed in:

As far as where to stay, it really depends on what you want to spend, but definitely stay in Reykjavik, unless you really want to rough it and stay in a farmhouse. They are pretty secluded. 
Our place was fabulous: we stayed in Apartment 304, which cost us 165 dollars a night. So, we spent most of our money on the guesthouse, which was worth it, because when it was cold or windy and rainy, we wanted a welcoming refuge. The bathroom was small, though, but the rest of the place is FABULOUS. Gudmundur was our host and was great.  Make sure you aren't squeamish about phalluses though. Gudmundur's got a planter on the fourth floor balcony where the jacuzzi is and it's, yeah, shaped like a penis.
Tower Guesthouse was located smack dab in the middle of the shopping district, which is the street called.....oh wait, what was it called, Laugevegur or something. (I would not recommend the Hostel even though it's cheap because you have to take the bus to get to anything, although it really depends on Your Budget.) Other places that would be good might be the Hotel Borg which is right downtown and I think the same price as ours, but more hotelish (room and bed, no living room or kitchen like the awesome Tower). By the way, the Tower looks crappy from the outside, but it's gorgeous.

J: The Tower is at Grettisgata 6, a quiet street but incredibly close to the shopping street and a short walk "downtown." It's truly the most beautiful place I've ever stayed.
Also downtown, was Room With a View right on the shopping street. That place looked really good.  I think you could probably throw a stone at Prada's front door, if I remember correctly. Then, there's Hotel Fron which was more starkly-modernish, but I'm sure very nice. 
Don't stay in any of the airport hotels, as you'll spend your money on a cab or bus to get to the city, especially Icelandair Hotel - Hotel Loftleidir. It looks like a junior high school. Nordica is also far away from town. This website really helped us narrow it down to Tower Guesthouse.

J: I agree that downtown is the best choice. Even though you can get a multi-day bus pass, you have to wait for one to come along. At the Tower we could step outside and start our day. If you're planning to spend a lot of time at the domestic animal zoo or the botanical garden, though, some of those other hotels would be more convenient.
As far as what to do:
1. Go to the Blue Lagoon, even though it's touristy. It's fifteen minutes from the airport and Reykjavik Excursions bus company will take you there. Do it on your last day. We went twice. :) 

J: Reykjavik Excursions has a bus that takes you to the Blue Lagoon and THEN meets up with your flight to the USA. You get to the airport around 2:30 PM which is two hours before all the flights leave for the USA. I forget if it leaves town at ten or eleven, but there was plenty of time at the Lagoon. Also, they pick you up AT YOUR HOTEL. This is true of all of their tours.

2. Eat at Cafe' Paris. It's right downtown and they have light meals that are relatively inexpensive. We went there constantly.

J: The baguette with olive tapanade and sun dried tomatoes was amazing!

3. Research what the different kinds of milk are.

J: Ab-Mjolk=some kind of yogurtty thing...

4. the 10:11 Grocery store is much better than the Bonus grocery store.

J: The Bonus was a bit cheaper, but the 10-11 was so much nicer. I have to admit, at first I thought it was called "lo-ll"

5. We took a bus tour to see the Golden Circle: the waterfalls, geysers, the Icelandic Parliament, the Continental Divide etc. It was worth it, but it was very touristy. We think that next time we'll rent a car because now we know the terrain and where to go. Gudmundur told us renting a car comes to about 70 bucks a day, flat rate. We loved everything about Iceland, but could have done without the bus taking us to all of these tourist traps along the way. But, for your first time there, maybe a bus is the best thing, because they can show you where to go, etc.

J: The next time, we'll rent a car. There are few roads to get lost on and they seemed to be well-marked.

6. Other places to eat...We enjoyed this restaurant/bar called Cafe Victor that serves burgers, chicken sandwiches, you know, bar food, but really good. Also, our only VERY expensive meal out was at Galileo, which serves Italian food. Gudmundur recommended the Lobster House, which was out of our price range.

J: The chicken sandwich with garlic sauce at Cafe Victor was amazingly good. Galileo was beautiful. Very romantic.

7. We loved Iceland. If you like a cosmopolitan, city atmosphere, but where people take it easy, spend a long time in the cafes', smoking their cigarettes and drinking their coffee, where everyone is gorgeous and dresses creatively, and simply fabulously, then Reykjavik is your place.

J: I've been all over Europe and Reykjavik is one of only a few places that I MUST go back to. I'm looking forward to our next trip there.

8. Grand Rokk. We went on a heavy metal night. We had a great time, even though Heavy Metal really wasn't our thing. Spend at least one night observing Reykjavik nightlife. Icelanders really like to party..........

J: Go to the Grand Rokk. Depending upon your timing, you might be seeing a huge band in a small place.

9. Beer is expensive. You can get cheap, although low (2.5%) alcohol beer at the supermarket.

J: It was nice to have around, the supermarket beer.

10. Icelandair will get you there. From Boston our flight was 5 hours. There was a four-hour time difference, so we napped our first morning there.

J: A great thing about our guesthouse, The Tower, was that the proprietor was willing to take our luggage whenever we arrived, even if our room wasn't ready for us. As it turned out, it was ready right when we got there. I wish I were more awake when Gudmundur gave us an introduction to the neighborhood.

J: USE ATMs!: Well, I knew that a long time ago ATMs and credit cards were the way to go when going to Europe, but I wasn't sure if this was still the case. But it is. I just got my bank statement back and the exchange rate was better than 80 kronur on the dollar. And only a $1 service charge for using the ATM. This compares to the 77 or so I got from the Landisbank at the airport (and there is an ATM at the airport, so use it). Of course, you should check with your bank to make sure your card will work, but if it's on any of the major networks (mine is on Cirrus, for example), it will undoubtedly work. Plus there's all that 24 hour convenience, no lines to wait in, etc. By the way, as a sidenote, some touristy places (from example at Geysir) will take U.S. dollars, but the exchange rate is even worse (75 to a dollar I believe it was). But that's what you get for not using the local currency. I hate when people are so arrogant that they can't change their money into the local currency. But that's just my opinion...

október 5, 2003 | Permalink


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Hey, I didn't think you'd post the whole thing! :) This was actually an email I had sent to someone who had asked me about going to Iceland. Question: Do you think winter is a good time to see Iceland, not including the holidays?

Posted by: kristen | 6.10.2003 07:30:08

It was all so good! I kept most of it. If you'd like me to edit, I certainly can. I'll be adding to it with my own sometime later today.

Posted by: Joe | 6.10.2003 08:20:42

Didn't anybody tell you about the alcohol shop?? It's just a little bit further down the street from Cafe Paris and although it's not cheap it's cheaper than buying the beer from the bars... The stuff you get at the supermarket is not beer!!

Posted by: Audi | 7.10.2003 21:19:41

hehe..nope, no one told us about it...:)

Posted by: kristen | 8.10.2003 07:32:25

Well, I knew they existed but I didn't know where. I guess I didn't bother asking.

Posted by: Joe | 8.10.2003 08:09:50

You should really go to the liquor store next time.....it´s called "ríkið" ;) If you have any trouble just look me up and I'll take you...;)

Posted by: thora | 27.11.2003 19:34:25

We might just do that :) Purely for the cultural experience of going to the alcohol shop, of course :)

Posted by: Joe | 30.11.2003 12:11:12

The more I read this site the more excited I get about going to Iceland. I hope to travel there within the next five years; maybe I'll live there if I really like it. If there's anyone who has either been to Iceland or is a native please contact me via email. I'll try to answer all replies quickly.

Posted by: Erica | 16.9.2004 13:25:24

You haven't mentioned my favourite 'cheap' (relatively) places to eat: The Vegamót bar (excellent food at reasonable prices) and Á Naestu Grösum (vegetarian, with BIG portions and a great atmosphere).

Posted by: Alda | 12.12.2004 19:10:40

I was stunned with your great tips and suggestions. I was just to excited to have some travel all along and experience an all out comfort of my holiday stay at those fabulous houses. I wish I could be able to put my self at one of those great ambiance and experience the cool accommodation. I would loved to be there.

Posted by: Cagayan de Oro Hotels | 7.3.2011 03:19:35

Wanna travel around Iceland?
Netbus is a licensed Icelandic tour and travel provider, offering welcoming bus trips across Iceland, professional guided coach tours and airport transfers upon request. Over the course of 50 years, Netbus has always believed in providing quality service at cheap prices. Netbus also believes in providing its customers with expert knowledge about Iceland and the country’s unique landscape and history. Visit the Blue lagoon, Gullfoss, Geysir, Thingvellir & more.

Posted by: Jan Nordic | 6.7.2011 12:42:01

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