December 05, 2017

Best Instagram Shots and Food Spots in Iceland

As I mentioned recently, I went to Iceland with two of my best friends last May. Now, some might feel that, as a blogger, it is now my responsibility to give you a detailed rundown of our trip's itinerary along with my planning tips and tricks. (Because bloggers always have tips and tricks.) But I'm not going to do that for two reasons:

One, I feel like that'd be a bit dishonest of me and frankly, ripping off my friend Erika, who did 99.5% of the planning. Erika is from Slovakia and also happens to be a consultant, so she travels—a lot. She's also one of those strange and admirable types who breathe what some people (me) find meticulous, aggravating, and sometimes impossible (creating travel itineraries). Anyway, I'll leave those details to Erika for if and when she ever gets a blog of her own.

The second reason I'm not going to detail our itinerary is that I don't feel like it.

What I am going to talk about is the two things I'm actually pretty decent at: Instagram pictures and food (eating it, that is). So without further ado, I present to you the best Insta shots and food spots in Iceland, according to me.

Instagram Shots

Best Place to Fake a North Face Ad: Skógafoss

Iceland is known for their waterfalls. Actually, I have no idea if that's true, but there are 10,000 plus waterfalls in Iceland, all of which are bound to be prime Insta locations.

I didn't see all 10,000, but of the ones I did see, Skógafoss was by far my favorite, mostly due to the fact that it's huge and you can get right up into it. And I mean right up into it, if you're so inclined. (I wasn't, by the way, because I was already cold and wasn't too into the idea of being wet and cold.) That said, you don't have to get too close to get a North Face-level shot.

Best Place to Have People Accuse You of Photoshop: The Blue Lagoon

I would go to Iceland again if just to spend another day (or month) at the Blue Lagoon, a spa/geothermal pool/blogger heaven near the Keflavik International Airport. It was the very first thing we did after arriving in Iceland (I think we can all agree that spa trips should be mandated after international flights), but we also ended up going our last day too because we loved it so much.

The Blue Lagoon's geothermal pool is man-made next to a geothermal power plant, where they use super hot water from the ground near a lava flow to run turbines that generate electricity. After going through the turbines, the water is fed into the lagoon, which is still pretty toasty (98-104°F, usually) and is filled with silica and minerals. Besides creating a sultry mist right above the pool, the water is also apparently great for your skin. (And I believe it. My skin was the best it's ever been after leaving Iceland, which was a miracle all on its own.)

Also (and more relevant to this post), the minerals turn the water in the pool a milky blue that is so beautiful, your photos will look Photoshopped. Seriously, look at them. I was there and I'm still not convinced they're not.

Best Pictures from Outer Space: Svínafellsjökull Glacier

I'm only half kidding about this, too. If you've ever seen the movie Interstellar, the pictures below might look suspiciously like one of its hostile, inhospitable terrains made only slightly more appealing by Matthew McConaughey.

And you'd be right, because it's where they filmed parts of the movie.

That said, the Svínafellsjökull glacier hike was probably the coolest and most unsettling thing we did during the trip. Coolest because... well, look at the pics. Unsettling because, while the hike guide didn't exactly make us feel unsafe, he was alarmingly adamant about us following his footsteps EXACTLY so as not to fall into a frozen crevice and die.

Then again, what's a good Insta pic if you're not willing to die for it, am I right?

Best Place to Capture a Horcrux: Vík

(FYI, I'm working under the assumption that you know what a Horcrux is. As one should.)

For the majority of our trip, we stayed in Reykjavík (in two different and equally awesome Airbnbs). We did, however, also spend two nights in a little village on Iceland's southern coast called Vík, which is much closer to Svínafellsjökull than Reykjavík is. The best part about staying at the old-school bed and breakfast Guesthouse Carina was, by far, the homemade rúgbrauð (an Icelandic bread that's really cake) in the morning. The second best thing, however, was the black sand beaches protected by a daunting line of cliffs at the edge of the village, which actually look eerily similar to the cave where Voldemort hid Salazar Slytherin's Locket.

Seriously, don't tell me I'm wrong about this:

Most Hipster-esque Shots: Reykjavík

What I didn't realize about Iceland (besides the fact that everyone there is beautiful. Seriously. I don't think I saw so much as a blemish the entire time I was there.) is that it's got a pretty solid hipster scene, if that's what you're into. Between the murals and the marble countertopped eateries, even the city life there is pretty darn Insta-worthy.

And this, conveniently, leads me to the second part of this post:

Food Spots

Now, for some reason (that reason being that I take food extremely seriously), I was in charge of a lot of our restaurant decisions. And they were decisions I did not take lightly.

As a disclaimer, this post isn't entirely necessary, as I'm pretty sure you can't really go wrong with choosing a restaurant in Reykjavík. (Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the three restaurants in Vík, where I'm pretty sure Hannah got served a plate of frozen mozzarella sticks with barbecue sauce.) That said, below is just a list of my favorite spots in Reykjavík.

You'd think the reason I liked this bakery so much is that it's totally Insta-worthy. (See below.) Not so. I actually loved this joint because of all its delicious, homemade carbs and the sweet-smelling smog of sugary goodness that oozed out of its front door. But really just the carbs.

We found this place mostly out of desperation (Erika had taken the car, and Hannah and I were starving), but this little cafe (which was a two-minute walk from our first Airbnb) turned out to be solid gold. Insta-gold, yes, but also homemade cinnamon rolls in the morning gold as well. (See discussion on carbs above.) The menu at Borðið was unfortunately in Icelandic, but it didn't really matter. You could point at anything on the menu, and I'm sure you'd still end up happy.

This was perhaps my peak in restaurant discoveries, and it's hardly even a restaurant at all. Kex is actually a hostel (and an inconspicuous one at that. The front door looks like the sort of warehouse door you'd only really think about entering if you're Olivia Benson). The inside, though, is nothing like SVU. The bar/restaurant on the third floor is hipster dining at its finest, complete with a view overlooking the water and a starter consisting of fried dates and bacon. I didn't offer much in terms of planning this trip, but I did offer Kex, and that, I think, was enough.

If we're being totally honest, I wasn't too pumped about the Cosy Pig. Granted, that might have been my fault seeing as I ordered a veggie burger. (I felt obligated to at least pretend I was balancing out the fried bacon.) That said, I had to include it, seeing as Erika went out one night on her own while Hannah and I were sleeping to get a second order of their beet and goat cheese gnocchi. And while Erika doesn't exactly value sleep as much as the rest of us (and much less than I do), still, I think the Cosy Pig has earned a spot on my list.

So there you have it! My highly anticipated, very timely post on the things that really matter when it comes to international travel. Next up, I'll likely be reviewing the trip to Israel we're set to take in a few weeks, which I'll probably post sometime in 2019.