Tuesday, July 25, 2017
Me and my husband are always on the hunt for new adventures. But instead of splurging on some fancy, smancy getaway last weekend, we decided to have a mini break in Reykjavík, which was a mix of Iceland on a budget and treating ourselves.
So, let’s start the mini break in Reykjavík extravaganza – hope you like it as much as we did!
We started the weekend with a real budget friendly splurge – Costco. We love Costco and decided to start off our mini break in Reykjavík with a trip to the warehouse to stock up on some glorious food that would last us the entire weekend. In hindsight, we were extremely grateful for this shopping trip, but I’ll get back to that later.
We spent a little over 9000 ISK at Costco, roughly 85 USD. Our shopping basket for example included loads of strawberries, lamb shanks, potatoes, mozzarella balls, tomatoes, chicken breasts, couscous and Greek yoghurt. Oh, and we got some lovely filled cheese balls which cost us next to nothing. We were already super pumped for our mini break in Reykjavík!
When we had gotten a babysitter for the little ones, we hurried home and cooked lovely lamb shanks with red wine gravy, beautiful pomegranate and homegrown coriander. Budget 1 – Splurge 0. To even that out we called a taxi. We live in the outskirts of Reykjavík, in Kópavogur to be more precise, and the taxi ride cost us 3.230 ISK (30,5 USD), which is ok compared to taxi rates in Iceland. We spent 10 minutes in the taxi and drove 6,5 kilometers according to the receipt. So Budget 1 – Splurge 1 – what a start to our mini break in Reykjavík.
Let the bar hopping begin
It was around 10 PM when we arrived down town, which is relatively early according to Icelandic standards. People here usually go out past midnight, but we are hardly in the prime of life so we opted for bar hopping. Our aim was to find nice places where we could sit down and chat, possibly running into some cool folk. We took turns picking the bars and I was first. I chose new comer Veður on Klapparstígur 33. Oh, and we could only drink one beer each at each location – special mini break in Reykjavík rules.
The atmosphere at Veður was extremely cozy and it has a big window facing the street, so we could really do some people watching. I could imagine myself sitting there for hours but we had a 1 beer rule, so off we went.
Conclusion: Veður is really basic and a good place to start the night.
Price of beer: 1 lager from the tap – 1.200 ISK (11 USD)
Crowd: 30+ people of all sexes, sitting down for a quiet chat and a laugh
Good date place? Yes
My husband was quick to pick the next bar. He picked Café Rosenberg at Klapparstígur 27 so we didn’t have to walk too far.
Café Rosenberg is a legendary place in Reykjavík but just opened after a huge make-over by some pretty cool, new owners. We’re talking about a band promoter and a sommelier. Nice combo! They have a kick ass menu and a really cool vibe. I think I’ll use this opportunity to predict that Café Rosenberg is the next “it” place in Reykjavík. Mark my words!
Conclusion: Very nice music, great menu, friendly staff and awesome decor.
Price of beer: 1 lager from the tap – 1.000 ISK (9,5 USD) – THE CHEAPEST ONE OF THE NIGHT!
Crowd: Anyone and everyone
Good date place: Most definitely!
I was next. I chose Kaldi bar at Laugavegur 20b.
I have a love-hate relationship with Kaldi. Sometimes I absolutely adore the place and sometimes I loath it. This weekend I got the best of both worlds. There were gangs of middle aged men screaming their lungs out in order to impress some women, which was quite annoying. But we also ran into a lovely American traveler who joined us for the next couple of drinks. All in all, Kaldi is ok if you feel like squeezing yourself through a tiny bar to get to the outside area. And if you like yelling instead of talking.
Conclusion: So, so bar. Nice outside area. Really sweaty entrance.
Price of beer: 1 lager from the tap – 1.300 ISK (12 USD) – THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONE OF THE NIGHT!
Crowd: Heaven and hell all rolled into one
Good date place: Ah, hell no!
Which brings us to my husband’s choice: Dillon at Laugavegur 30.
Dillon is a solid rock bar, sporting a DJ who is called the rock grandma of Iceland. With her gray locks and smashing taste in music, she really makes the atmosphere in the bar. It’s a great place to sit and chat, and every 10 minutes you hear an old rock n’ roll tune that just makes you want to belt out. I love it!
Conclusion: What’s not to love about good, old fashioned rock n’ roll?
Price of beer: 1 lager from the tap – 1.090 ISK (10 USD)
Crowd: Young, old, whiskey lovers, beer lovers, rock lovers, cool people
Good date place: Maybe when you’ve had a few drinks
And fittingly, my last call selection was Ölstofan at Vegamótastígur 4.
Ölstofan is known for being the last call bar of all last call bars in Reykjavík. It has a really special place in my heart and even though it can get quite filthy and too many drunk people trying to spark up a conversation, I truly adore Ölstofan. I always run into someone I know and even though I haven’t visited in a while, it feels like everything just stands still.
Conclusion: “Where everybody knows your name. And you’re always glad you came”
Price of beer: 1 lager from the tap – 1.200 ISK (11 USD)
Crowd: Icelanders that don’t dance and curious foreigners
Good date place: Absolutely not
Late night snack on a budget
We couldn’t leave for home on our mini break in Reykjavík until we had a little midnight snack so we stopped at Deli at Bankastræti 14 and had four whole pizza slices for only 2.000 ISK (19 USD). I say only, because the slices at Deli are huge so two slices actually feel like a whole pizza. Not to mention how scrumptious those pizzas are! I highly recommend them – even though you’re not intoxicated like us.
The taxi ride home was less than the ride to town, only 3.000 ISK (28 USD). So I’m giving Splurge 3 points for this night, which makes the score Budget 1 – Splurge 4.
We woke up a bit rusty and heated up some leftovers from the night before to even the score. Budget 2 – Splurge 4. Then we headed down town.
We started with walking from place to place to find somewhere to sit and watch Iceland go head to head with Switzerland in the women’s EURO 2017. We thought we would maybe find a reasonable place to watch football and have a meal, but were shocked by the prices. We walked by the Irish pub Drunk Rabbit and saw fish and chips on the menu for 2.990 ISK (28 USD)! Basically the same as our taxi ride home from the night before!
Then we walked by American bar and saw nachos with chicken for a little over 2.000 ISK (19 USD). How outrageous are these prices?! We ended up sitting down at Bjarni Fel and just ordering drinks when the waiter told us we’d have to pay 800 ISK (7,5 USD) for a few store bought nachos and two miniature bowls of dipping sauce. So Budget 3 – Splurge 4.
The best coffee in town
We were devastated by the game’s outcome (Iceland lost) so we headed to our favorite café, Café Haiti at the old harbor. There we paid 1.000 ISK (9,5 USD) for two cups of coffee. Yeah, it’s not cheap but it’s so much more worth it than some store bought shit. The coffee beans are roasted on location and the coffee is out of this world! Money well spent even though Splurge gets a point.
And Splurge gets another point at our next location which was Café Kumiko at Grandagarður 101 where we bought a heavenly licorice cheesecake with a brownie base for 850 ISK (8 USD) per slice. That’s not so bad since you can easily spend up to 1.400 ISK (13 USD) for a slice of cake in Reykjavík. And the cakes at Kumiko are so incredible that they leave you smiling and giggling for hours! Budget 3 – Splurge 5.
Northern lights in summer
We headed home to make an early dinner which consisted of small courses like mozzarella and tomatoes and filled cheese balls. Oh, and we made glorious nachos that cost way less than 2.000 ISK. Budget 4 – Splurge 5.
We then went back down town and got tickets to the Aurora Reykjavík Northen Lights Museum. For only 1.600 ISK (15 USD) per person we got to experience the northern lights during the ever so long daylight of the summer. I was skeptical that I would like it but I thoroughly enjoyed the visit. It was a really nice end to a really nice day and I’m going to give Budget a point simply because of the value of money. Budget 5 – Splurge 5.
We woke up bright and early on the last day of our mini break in Reykjavík and decided on a real treat to keep the weekend feeling lovely and relaxed. We had brunch at AALTO Bistro, a restaurant in the Nordic house, which I think is the most beautiful building in Reykjavík.
When we walked up to the entrance of the bistro, we noticed a lovely little green house on the lawn. A real sign of what was to come. I can honestly say that AALTO Bistro is my new favorite brunch spot. The brunch consisted of an herb omelet topped with Turkish feta cheese and tomato, parma ham or smoked salmon, fresh fruit, green salad, freshly baked bread, tuna fish salad and yoghurt with a rhubarb and raspberry sauce and home made muesli. And it was amazing!
The tuna salad was out of this world but the real show stopper of this brunch for me was the yoghurt. Never in my life have I tasted yoghurt like this. I couldn’t stop and my body just screamed for more, more, more!
All the ingredients in the brunch as a whole were extremely fresh, so lovely in fact that we had to complement the chef, who is the sweetest man you’ll ever meet.
And how wonderful to just sit in the Nordic house, away from down town Reykjavík, overlooking the city. Really relaxing. And might I add that all of this is only 2.600 ISK (24,5 USD) per person, less than a greasy fish and chips dish at an Irish pub! I think I’ll give both Splurge and Budget a point. 6-6!
Horse back riding for dummies
Feeling full and happy, we drove to Laxnes horse farm at Mosfellsdalur for a horse back riding tour. It was amazing to get up close and personal with the Icelandic horses at the farm and the staff were so understanding and lovely when I told them I was super scared of horses. Everything was so laid back and comfortable that I actually enjoyed myself immensely! It really is a unique tour which I think everyone should do when in Iceland, whether you’re an experienced rider or dead scared like me.
Laxnes was the most perfect end to our lovely mini break in Reykjavík, where we sort of felt like foreigners for a day. As we headed back home to prepare our Costco meal, we discovered that we had actually managed the perfect balance of Splurge and Budget, seeing that with the combination of Laxnes and Costco, the score was tied 7-7.