I arrived at Hlemmur Square hostel close to 1:00 am, exhilarated but exhausted, and half-ready to fork over any amount necessary for a private room. After the trip I’d just had (see last post), I couldn’t fathom sharing a dorm with 5 strangers, no matter how much money it’d save me. However, stars aligned, and the universe spared me 40000 isk – I was blessed with a 6 bed dorm to myself for the night.
Despite losing an entire day in Reykjavik, I was still able to see and do almost everything I’d hoped to do. I had to sacrifice the National Museum of Iceland and two out of three parts of the Reykjavik Art Museum, but it was too beautiful to spend all my time indoors anyway.
I kicked off my first day in Reykjavik with a lift to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja church. Built between 1945 and 1986, it was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape. It is the largest church in the country, and provides one of the best 360 degree views of Reykjavik.
Next, I went to the National Gallery of Iceland to take in some Icelandic art. Currently exhibiting selected works of narrative art by contemporary Icelandic artists, the National Gallery was small, but interesting.
I had my first taste of traditional Icelandic meat soup, with lamb on flatbread at Café Loki. Then, I set off on a walk around the perimeter of the city which took me through the Harpa concert hall, past the Sólfar (Sun Voyager) sculpture, and all the way back to the other end of Laugavegur (one of two main shopping streets, and the street on which my hostel stood).
My next stop was the Icelandic Phallological Museum – home of the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts (I figured, why not?)
Over a coffee at Kaffitár, I realized that I had just enough time to take in one of the three locations of the Reykjavik Art Museum (I went to Hafnarhúsið) for more Icelandic art. I had just enough time – I finished just as it closed.
A light dinner of Noodle Station soup (I was trying to be frugal but it wasn’t, really), I returned to the hostel to discover I had a roommate – a man from Korea whose name I never learned. It turned out that we were both planning on walking the entire path along the water and back, so we went together. Like me, he was in Iceland for the hiking, and was wrapping up several months of worldwide travel. This was about the only time we crossed paths during my entire stay in Reykjavik, but it was a nice way to spend an evening and end a fantastic first day in Iceland.