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Blog: Blog2

Skyr and Bill Clinton

 The day began with Skyr and ended with Bill Clinton. First of all, Skyr is much like Greek yogurt. It’s delicious, but I really don’t know if it’s any different from Greek yogurt.

My first stop after leaving the house was Prikið. I was told to go there for breakfast and/or coffee. I already had my skyr, etc, so I just had coffee. It was not exceptional coffee, but the place was a fun, grungy diner sort of place. I would like to go back for breakfast, but that will be on my next trip to Iceland!

 Since I decided to spend time in Reykjavik instead of doing an excursion outside of the city, Prikið was followed by a walk in search of an art museum. I kind of got sidetracked and went inside an old church, the Domkirkjan, which was built in 1796 and helped establish Reykjavik as the capital of Iceland.

Oh yeah, and this interesting fountain/wall at City Hall.

And this lovely scene.

Next stop, instead of the art museum, was Reykjavik 871 +/-2, which is an exhibit of the remains of a house from A.D. 871 +/-2 that was just unearthed sometime in the 90s. It was a pretty interesting exhibit explaining the details of the conditions, how people lived, and a lot of speculation about how things actually were. There were several interesting artifacts like glass beads, brooches, and tools.

 I then decided to find the National Museum of Iceland, which tells more about the history of the country. The walk there was nice but kind of long, and I passed a cemetery with lots of trees planted between the graves. I also had a great view of Hallgrimskirkja.

When I made it to the Museum, I realized that it is on the campus of the University of Iceland! I explored the campus a bit and found the bookstore, where I was happy to find The Pronunciation of Modern Icelandic: A Brief Course for Foreign Students. If I ever have to sing in Icelandic, I’ll be ready! After that exciting purchase, I went back to the museum and got started learning about the history of Iceland.

There was a lot about the religious history of the country and how the vikings converted to Christianity, so there were many church artifacts, including an old hymnal. On the second floor was more modern history, including a four man fishing boat from 1899 and a baðstofa, an old type of Icelandic house. Someone lived in this one (in the photo with the boat) until the 1950s! It must have been cold!

 I was starving and ready for lunch after the museum, so I was going to eat at Icelandic Fish & Chips, which is down by the harbor. My phone navigated me to the right area, but it wasn’t until I was already eating that I was at the Reykjavik Fish Restaurant. Ooops! Oh well, this was a great place, and the dish I ordered was very good and very hearty. I had intended to eat a salad with smoked salmon, but when I saw that they were offering “traditional Icelandic Plokkari,” I couldn’t resist! It is a dish with cod, onions, and potatoes, with a béarnaise sauce and cheese. It really was delicious, and I even ate almost all of a piece of bread with butter. I needed a vegetable, though, so I went back and ordered a small mixed green salad!

That got me ready to walk about 2 miles to “The Pearl.” Everything about this kind of freaked me out. The Pearl is a huge glass dome built on top of four enormous tanks that hold hot water for Reykjavik. The draw for me was homemade ice cream (bragged about by the chef in this video) and seeing the rotating restaurant on top. I made it, and although the temperature was in the low 40s, I was HOT by the time I go there and ready for the cream.

At the entrance was the menu for Perlan, the fancy restaurant on the 5th floor. I sounded wonderful, but they are only open for dinner. On the 4th floor is the gift shop and cafe with ice cream. The gift shop also included a “Christmas Shop,” which was pretty tacky. There were Christmas decorations that had nothing to do with Iceland. Weird. Ok, so I got the ice cream/gelato–one scoop of pistachio and one scoop of Nutella–and found a seat by the window to enjoy the view. The view was wonderful, but the ice cream was nothing to write home about. My homemade ice cream is better. The pistachio and Nutella basically tasted the same, but one was brown and one was green–not worth the sugar and dairy intake. I suppose I needed the fuel for my 2 mile walk back to town. Before leaving, I walked around the observation deck and took some great photos of Reykjavik. It was beautiful! By the way, I haven’t seen a single cloud the whole time I’ve been here!

On the way back, I decided to walk in the direction of another art museum. I entered the museum, which was at the edge of a lovely park. The museum itself is known as an excellent example of Icelandic architecture, and I’m sure the art would have been wonderful. However, I was tired and didn’t feel like paying another 1400 or 1500 ISK (~$10) to enter a museum today. I moved on, went back to the house, and had a 9 minute nap.

After the refreshing nap, I decided it would be a good idea to try out one of the city’s public pools. Apparently they love their pools here, and like the Blue Lagoon, the public pools are filled with naturally hot water. It was a 15 minute walk there through a residential area. It cost around 500 ISK to enter the pool. It was really the right thing to do. After some time in the pool and some time in the steam room, I felt ready to go out and get dinner.

Since Dill Restaurant didn’t have any availability and would have been very expensive, I wanted something that would taste good, be healthy, and not cost a lot. I remembered reading about Sægreifinn, which is back down by the port and is supposed to have the best lobster soup. It’s a confusing place. You walk in, and there is a display case with raw fish kabobs by the cash register on one side. Then, there are 3 long, communal tables crammed on the right side. It’s actually pretty simple. The display case is the menu, so you just tell them what you want. I ordered the cod and a bowl of the lobster soup, she gave me a number, and I found a spot at one of the tables.

It took a while to get my food, which was fine. It gave me time to listen to a boring conversation that 2 Americans were having next to me. First they were discussing how they never really believed in the Loch Ness Monster: “especially in the last 10 years, since everyone always has a camera with them.” Then they got into discussing how they starting reading science fiction at a young age. I think they were even bored with themselves.

Back to the food. The 2 sci-fi Americans ordered the whale steak, which looked and smelled like beef–just like the whale I had the night before. My soup finally came, and it was truly delicious. It was made with coconut milk like a Thai soup. I can’t believe it’s something authentically Icelandic, but it was delicious–especially the chunks of lobster in it! My skewer of cod came eventually, and it was also great–very nicely grilled and simply prepared. Success!

Just outside the restaurant was what I believe to be a May Day tree like I had seen in Germany. 

As if I had not walked enough today, I needed to walk and see the Sun Voyager, a metal sculpture of a ship that is by the ocean. It’s much windier and colder by the water, so the hood was necessary! After a few photos, that was enough of that!

I realized that I was near Kex Hostel, which is supposed to be a great place and has a restaurant inside where locals apparently hang out as well as travelers. My dinner didn’t include any vegetables, so I went in and had a side salad. I didn’t take any photos, but it was a nice space with some decent looking food.

As I was walking down the main shopping street again, a “parade” of classic cars passed by. I have no idea what that was about. I was looking for dessert, so I ended up at the Laundromat Cafe again, where I ordered the Skyr Dessert, which had skyr and blueberries with some crumbly stuff on top. 

After walking about 25,000 steps, I was about ready to head home for bed, but I remembered that I needed to visit the hot dog stand where Bill Clinton had a hot dog. I think I saw Anthony Bourdain talking about the hot dogs there too. Fortunately, it was only about a 2 minute walk from where I was. On the way there, I passed another hot dog stand, where a duck appeared to be wanting to place an order. As if I were hungry, I ordered a hot dog with everything on it  (the least expensive thing I’ve eaten so far) and ate it all except for the bun. You only live once….

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