Iceland Full Circle - Part 1 (Reykjavik)
My wife and I talked about taking a vacation in the second half of 2016 and we decided Iceland would be a fantastic place to visit as we are both active, love the outdoors and, based on the images we saw on the web, knew the photography opportunities would be amazing.
Additionally, our other requirements were straightforward; to see as much of the country as we could at our own pace at a price we could afford. That cost factor is always a spoiler isn't it? Oh, and to eat good food! I hadn't done much research or heard many things on the food scene in Iceland so I didn't know what to expect overall. More on the food later on.
Did We Use A Travel Agent?
With so much information online and based on previous trips we've taken, we entertained booking this trip ourselves. However, because this was an international trip we kept our options open and also looked at tour operators. We researched the web and found a tour operator specializing in the Nordic countries. The travel operator we eventually used was Nordic Visitor.
I will say that Nordic Visitor is a top notch travel agent / tour operator. They have a very good website, outstanding service and they offered a range of tours that could have met our needs. We settled on the 10 day Iceland Full Circle, a self-guided driving tour. We submitted our request and our travel agent, Arnar Þór Gunnarsson, got back to us promptly. He provided a wealth of information prior to our trip at various intervals and we exchanged emails whenever we had questions. My wife and I felt like we had a good game plan. You can access their website at the following link https://www.nordicvisitor.com/.
Upon arrival in Iceland in the morning (i.e., 6am GMT) the driver of our shuttle met us promptly at the airport, provided a tote bag with our detailed itinerary and other useful details (e.g., mobile phone, paper map, guide book etc...) and took us to our hotel. We both thought we had a good game plan and were off to a great start!
We spent that first full day in Reykjavik exploring the downtown area, snapping a few photos and popping into various businesses to have food and experience the local culture. Along the way we stopped into Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland. It's a beautiful church and you can also get some great views overlooking the city at the top of this church (see image below) so make sure this is on your list.
We had some light rain early on in Reykjavik but I read that the weather changes rapidly all the time so I was prepared. I had my rain cover for my camera and I slipped that on as needed so I could keep shooting and got several shots including the one below.
Almost all of the photos I've seen for Iceland are of the stunning landscapes but I also love street photography and capturing images of people and things in their natural way. I ended up getting a few shots in the streets before heading out to the more rural areas throughout the country.
Icelanders love their bikes!
Some people liked the camera while others weren't so thrilled.
When I was tired and done shooting we ended up finding a good restaurant / bar near our hotel to have a bite to eat. We stumbled on a restaurant called Rok. It looked cool from the outside and when I walked in I was greeted by the sounds of Can I Kick It? by A Tribe Called Quest. We grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered the local beer by one of the the local brewers, Viking. The Rok specializes in small plates with food sourced locally. I don't think they have a website but you can check out the reviews here. After that experience my wife and I said if the rest of the food in Iceland is like this we might not leave! After a few hours exploring we went to our hotel and took a nap so we could head back out later to take a few more snaps and eat some more.
We ended up having a great dinner at Grillmarkadurinn. This was another fantastic restaurant experience focusing on grilled meats and seafood sourced locally. This was an upscale dining experience and you should make reservations in advance. You can check out their website at the following link http://www.grillmarkadurinn.is/.
After dinner we went back to our hotel to get ready for our driving tour beginning the following day. What else was in store? To access the next blog post in this series, click here.
You can see more of my street photography in the "Street Life" section of my website.