First Impressions of Reykjavik Iceland, the City Where the Sun Never Sets!
Reykjavik would be the first stop on my European adventure! I arrived in Iceland at approximately 0500 local time. Walking out of the airport in my jeans and T-shirt was something of a shock as I had not checked the temperature, and it was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I quickly dropped my bags and rummaged through to find my jacket! Naturally I couldn’t check into my hostel of choice quite yet, as check in time was not until 2:00pm or as the locals refer to it 1400. I was however able to store my bags there. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful at falling asleep on the plane during the trip here. Fairly tired, I set off to do some initial exploring. I made no promises about staying awake however, there was a good chance I would end up falling asleep on either the hostel’s couch or a park bench before 2:00pm!
Choosing to explore the two major streets and a couple of attractions I set out. I immediately liked the old European feel of the surrounding buildings. Aside from a couple areas of Reykjavik the buildings had a much older and weathered feel built largely from stone, brick, or cement as compared to the modern apartment buildings and constructs I was used to from the United States. It resulted in a feeling of both being a bit out of place as well as a sensation of wonder and thrill at the unique experience! The streets were bustling with what seemed to be a mix of tourists and locals. I could identify the tourists and travelers primarily by the backpacks they carried about and the cameras hanging from their necks, much as I was.
Despite the cold and overcast weather I was excited to get out and explore. However, I soon discovered that the tours and excursions I had hoped to go on were quite expensive and it seemed there was not a very large amount of activities to do just in the city of Reykjavik itself. I began slightly regretting booking a full week in the city. It may have been a better choice to stay in the city for just a day or two and then set off on a journey to see the sites in the far reaches of Iceland, while staying in little towns along the way. I was determined to make the best of it however!
Later that day, after checking in to my room at the hostel and taking a solid nap (I did not fall asleep on any park benches!) I found it more difficult to meet people in the hostel than I had expected. When I thought about staying in a Hostel, for whatever reason I pictured myself easily walking up to a group of likeminded souls and hitting it off right away. Buuuut, that’s not entirely in my nature. I used to describe myself as an introvert. In the past couple years though I have come to describe myself as an extroverted introvert. This means that while I thoroughly enjoy meeting people, socializing and going out, I need time on my own to re-charge my batteries. As such, it took a concerted effort for me to strike up a conversation and meet strangers. I was also surprised by the number of people I saw who were in their 40s and up. I had not imagined that people that age would stay in a hostel despite the fact that a private room is still likely much more affordable than a hotel room.
After a little while I sacked up and introduced myself to a nice looking English girl and we immediately hit it off. Two hours of conversation later, her friends showed up (after similarly taking a much needed nap) and the night continued. One drink became two, two became four and the night just kept on ticking. I forgot to mention, that it was summer solstice here in Iceland this weekend. This meant that the sun quite literally has not set in the two days I have been here, and will not fully set for some time to come. This has not helped my already screwy night shift sleep schedule one bit! Also not helped by the fact that as we went out that night for drinks, laughter, and dancing, we discovered the locals often party till the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps helped by the fact that it is perfectly light out throughout the entire night! Regardless, we ended up not heading home until about 5am the next morning! Fueled by a late night (or early morning!) stop at a local (supposedly famous) hotdog stand. And I must say, it’s by far the best hotdog I’ve ever had.
More on the late night, early morning, and perpetual day light adventures in Iceland in the weeks to come. Stay tuned!