What can I say about Iceland…
It is expensive. The food is alright. The beer is… alright. The beer of choice in almost every bar and restaurant seemed to be Carlsberg. Doesn’t sound very Viking-esque now does it?
Its a common misconception that the people living in Iceland are vikings, but the old heathens of the past had moved away, sailed to lands further away to escape the meager rations and fortunes and to seek pillaging and plundering. What was left behind were farmers and those unwilling to pursue battles.
The streets of Reykjavik had many shops with Viking-like goods. Large cups made from animal horns, fur coats and garbs, and replicate weaponry. None of which were cheap by any means.
Very gay friendly. Signs, bars and streets were welcoming to gay and gay friends. We both felt very safe here.
If you must drink in Iceland, go during their happy hour. It will save you a ton of money. During happy hour, the drinks are half price and with the American exchange, the beers are about $5-7, but after happy hour you are looking at a $10 beer. The beer is commonly a lager or pilsner. Its difficult to find anything with darker color or with hoppy undertones.
There are a few must see bars on the streets of Reykjavik. The Big Lewbowski Bar, the Chuck Norris bar, and the Irish pub.
The Big Lewboski bar has several, and I mean a whole page in the menu, of atypical “White Russians”. You can try the many different versions of this iconic movie beverage. They also have a small selection of some pub grub.
Chuck Norris bar will have you laughing at some of the best jokes. The walls are covered in quotes and jokes. The bar is quite small and the seating is uncomfortable. They have good food and a small selection of beers (that’s typical in the city as we have discussed). They do not seem to have a happy hour, so its full price dining for you.
Irish pub gives you televisions to watch sports, outdoor seating/smoking area and a larger (albeit still small) beer selection and some harder liquor choices. The bartender Maria from Italy was very friendly and taught us all about the happy hour trick.
The luke warm journey
One of the attractions in Iceland is the Hot River. Small town of Hveragerði is where you can park your rental and start your hike. We didn’t rent a car or scooter bike. What we did instead was hop on the “:country bus” and headed to the town. This bus dropped us off at some end of the road gas station. No map, no touristy guide and no direction of where to go next. Suddenly felt like we made a bad decision.
We walked a few blocks until we saw a campground. Inside was a nice old man that said the river was in walking distance, showed us on the map and sent us on our way. The map looked like it wansn’t too far of a hike, maybe a mile or two.
It took us forever. It was beautiful but after about an hour, I was over it. I was ready to be sitting in the river and letting my muscles relax. We still had horse farms, geothermal fields, golf course and a creek to cross over before we even made it to the parking lot.
The parking lot had 1 porta-potty. It ran out of toilet paper. And then Jamie got stuck inside of it. The door was locked and she couldn’t get it unlocked. There was a little squeak of fear in her voice as I laughed at how she wasn’t coming out.
Now for the hike up.
Being from Alaska, I can appreciate a good hike up a hill and having experience in the Hatcher Pass area, I was very comfortable with the trail and the elevation…. for the first hour. Once we crested the first two peaks and jointly decided that the next peak HAD to be the river, we were devastated to find out it was still a ways off. This was not a short jaunt up the hill. Alas, 4 hours into our day in Hveragerði we finally made it to the river.
Now, lets talk about the differences in word definition.
River = large flowing body of water. Hot = steaming, opposite of cold, may cause burns. What we finally rested as the peak of where people were allowed to venture was a warm-ish creek about 6 inches deep. It was a cute little creek, but to sit under the water one had to dig a butt hole (a hole deeper than the size of my butt) to allow the water to flow over my legs. I felt like we were sharing a flowing bath with the other 30 people.
The way back was significantly faster (downhill of course) but no one would give us a lift. Maybe a hitchhikers thumb in Europe doesn’t mean the same thing. There was a great restaurant on the way back to the far away, initial gas station/bus stop. We stopped in for some beer and grub and the waitstaff was friendly.
Overall, the experience makes a fun memory and we tell people about the time we hiked all day to take a bath. If you do go to Hveragerði, make sure you get a ride all the way to the trail head and not just the edge of town.