Monday, July 18, 2016

Reykjavik: The World's Northernmost Capital City

Did you know that Reykjavik is farther north than any other world capital? Straddling the 64th parallel, it's barely outside the Arctic Circle. But if your idea of a perfect July day is 65˚F with sunshine until midnight, look no further!

Iceland has a complex history, which the Saga Museum does a wonderful job of presenting. In the late 800s, Norsemen discovered the island, settling in Reykjavik by the 870s. I'm not going to get into a history lesson, but the centuries that followed were marked by feuds, witch trials, the bubonic plague, and even the discovery of Vinland by Leif Eriksson.

But enough Icelandic history.

With the Icelandair Stopover program, Reykjavik is more relevant than ever (and no, this is not a paid advert). Anyone traversing the Atlantic Ocean via Icelandair has the option to do a "stopover" in Reykjavik for up to seven days, no extra charge. Honestly, I'm not sure if Iceland would even have been on my list without that program, but now that I've spent three days there, I want to go back again and again and again.

Is it expensive? Yes. My stay in an eight-person dorm at the Loft Hostel (which I highly recommend) cost around $60/night with breakfast. But that's the beauty of doing a stopover--I could spend just enough time to see some of Iceland's main sights without committing a week or two to an expensive destination. I plan on doing the stopover again in the future--there's so much more I want to see and do (like climb Eyjafjallajökull!), and it's much easier to break up the cost.

My time in Reykjavik consisted mostly of roaming the city, which is full of small museums, colorful homes, and street art. Of course, I had to visit the infamous Icelandic Phallological Museum, aka the penis museum. If you think it's erotic, well, it isn't. It's literally a bunch of mammal penises in glass jars, similar to a science museum. Gross, interesting, and educational at the same time. The best part is what inspired the founder to curate this collection. As a child, his weapon of self-defense was a bull's penis! Could you imagine?!

Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the food. I do not eat meat or fish, and I was hard pressed to find a restaurant serving Icelandic cuisine with vegetarian options. On the other hand, the beer is great! Just be careful during the summer when you're at the bar--one minute, it's 9:00 p.m., and the next minute it's midnight! I loved the midnight sun, but it definitely messed with my sense of time. ;)

Of course, I spent the majority of my time adventuring through Iceland's plethora of natural wonders. Stay tuned to learn about 1,000-year-old glaciers, Iceland's tallest waterfall, and puffins!

P.S. Never in my life have I seen so many man buns.

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