november 29, 2016
Lately, my head has been spinning with to-do lists that unfortunately, have had little to do with this fun little space. To be completely honest, I haven't been in the kitchen nearly as much as I like - it's been a whole lot of whatever-is-left-in-the-fridge kinda bowls, peanut butter, and my go to of garlicky kale topped with some over easy eggs. This isn't to say I haven't been eating well (don't worry Mom!) I just haven't had the time to share the recent goings-on like I used to. Lucky for me, the past few months haven't been all work and no play. When I haven't been buried in books, I've been zipping around every chance I get, visiting friends and exploring some new places that have been on my bucket list for quite some time. It's been so much fun, but I am so happy that things are winding down, and that I'm writing this from the comfort of my little home while listening to some Christmas carols. (!!!)
Anywho, below you'll find some details around my most recent adventure across the pond. My guy and I planned a trip to Iceland this past October a few months back. It was a much anticipated trip, and man, this place sure didn't disappoint! Iceland is unlike anywhere else in the world I have ever experienced. We wandered through the charming streets of Reykjavík, ducking into the coziest cafes and bars as we went, and then headed north to explore the breathtaking and otherworldly beauty of the Westfjords region.
I loved Reykjavík. It's such a beautiful, unique, and charming city. I could have easily spent a few more days cozying up in their warm and welcoming coffee shops, wandering and window shopping, and eating more of those world famous hot dogs (SO good.) Reykjavík is Iceland's largest city, and has a whole lot to offer when it comes to food and drink. We stayed at the Kvosin Downtown Hotel, and I can't recommend this place enough. It's in the heart of the city, has tons of character, and the staff are all very welcoming and helpful. The rooms have everything you could possibly need for the perfect stay, and the boyfriend claims they have the most comfortable beds he has ever slept in (high praise.) There's also a cute and cozy wine bar on the first floor of the hotel, the perfect place to hunker down if the weather isn't clear and warm, something not uncommon in Iceland.
Once we were settled in, we took to the streets to wake ourselves up with some good food after a long night of travel. We walked through town to the harbor's edge, and continued along the water until we hit the Coocoo's Nest, a bright and warm cafe. They serve up homemade soups and hearty sandwiches made on fresh, crusty sourdough bread. It was the perfect place for us to unwind and recharge. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring Reykjavík by foot, napping (hello red eye flight,) and deciding where to head for dinner and drinks. We decided on a pizza place that I had read about that had intrigued me. It's an unnamed joint, that turns out delicious and hot sourdough crusted pizzas and a variety of tasty appetizers. It's an eclectic and friendly place, and an awesome pick for dinner after a long day of exploring. Though I can't give you a name, the address is Hverfisgata 12. After we ate, we headed up a flight of stairs to Mikkeller & Friends, a brewery/bar that was born in Copenhagen, and has since opened a location in Reykjavík. I loved going there while I was studying abroad in Copenhagen, so it was a fun place to share with DJ. The space is funky and colorful, and offers a bunch of beers on tap. We spent the rest of our night sippin' and chattin' about our plans for the next few days.
The next morning we stopped in at Sandholt before hittin' the road. This bakery is light and airy and is a perfect pick to start your day. They have sooo many beautiful pastries and I wanted to try every single one. I settled on a massive, buttery cinnamon roll with a side of traditional Icelandic skyr. After people watching for a bit we left happy, warmed, and ready to take on the road.
One of our favorite days of our trip was spent road tripping the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Such a gorgeous and incredible place. There were so many "is this actually real?!" moments, and we couldn't believe just how many natural wonders were located in one relatively small stretch of the island. There are vast lava fields and glaciers, countless waterfalls and hidden hot springs, and jagged coastlines and black pebble beaches. Tiny, colorful, fishing villages sprinkle the coastline as well, and we had one of our best meals of the trip out there. One of the highlights of the day, of the trip really, was the natural hot spring we found in the middle of nowhere (really,) hidden in a sprawling lava field. It's on an unmarked road on the peninsula, and was so worth the wandering to find. After parking the car, walking a bit, and crossing a shallow stream, we reached the most beautiful little hot pot. It's just big enough to fit two comfortably, is about 5 feet deep, and felt like heaven at a steaming hot temp. We soaked for awhile before hopping back in the car and continuing on towards Snæfellsjokull National Park. On our drive we passed by the quaint fishing village of Arnastapi, and made a stop to explore the Londrangar Basalt Cliffs. If you're in the area, stop here! It's magical, and is said to be inhabited by elves.
Next, we drove down a winding road through a lava field to Djupalon Beach, a black sand and wind swept place strewn with rusted metal from the shipwrecked English trawler Eding, back in 1948. There are also some crazy rock formations, one said to be an elf church and the other a kerling, or troll woman. You can feel the history in this wild place. We spent the rest of the day driving the coast, ooohing and aaahing over craters and waterfalls and golden cliffs that made me feel like I was back home on the PCH. Around dusk, we reached our final destination of Grundarfjörður. We ate dinner at the most welcoming and warm restaurant on the water, Bjargarsteinn mathus, and loved every minute of it. Our table was right by the window overlooking Kirkjufell, a beautiful mountain unlike any other I've ever seen. We watched the sunset and kept our eyes peeled for puffins while we dug into a hearty and amazing dinner. When it was time to leave I was thrilled to meet Arnar, the chef, and picked his brain about Icelandic food and his kitchen. Such a special space, definitely a meal to remember!
We stayed in the most incredible and cozy cabin after venturing outside of Reykjavík. Our cabin was nestled in the hills in the northwest of Iceland, and it was the perfect base for exploring the rugged and raw terrain of this country. One of the highlights? The beautiful Icelandic horses that roamed the valley! I could not get enough of these beautiful animals, and must have followed them around and coaxed them closer for at least a couple of hours. DJ is a patient man. Mornings were slow and spent perched in front of the window in the comfy green, velvet chair with a cup of tea in hand, watching the sunrise (around 8 am!) over the hills. We cooked our meals from scratch while listening to our host's impressive CD collection. From here we explored neighboring fishing towns, spent hours hiking the hills behind the cabin, got real cozy in front of the wood stove, played a lot of cribbage, and snuggled up under some Icelandic wool blankets with some good books. Kristján, our wonderful host, left a basket full of soft wool sweaters and blankets for our use. Needless to say, this place is special, and I wasn't sure I'd ever leave.