One of my favorite things about traveling is eating my way through a new country. Even though we weren't there for long and didn't get to eat at many of the places on my list, Iceland did not disappoint. Reykjavik has an exciting food scene right now. Here are some of the places I enjoyed, as well as some trusted recommendations that we unfortunately didn't have time to try (even I can only eat so much in a day).
Matur og Drykkur: If you only go to one place on this list, make it this place! They have prix fixe menus (including a vegetarian menu) or you can order a la carte. The fish was fresh and the Icelandic doughnuts we had for dessert were the perfect not-too-sweet way to end the meal. Everything is made with a high degree of thought and care and we had a great experience from the service to the food to the atmosphere. Highly recommend.
Sjavargrillid: Unfortunately, we did not get to try the food here, but it did come highly recommended by a friend who described it as Icelandic seafood slow food "done really really well." The Pan Fried Salted Cod and the Skyr and Brown Cheese sound particularly good to me.
Snaps: This is a local favorite and was voted 2016's "Best Goddamn Restaurant" by the Reykjavik Grapevine. They have a dedicated gin & tonic menu, which makes it a pretty goddamn good place in my book. The atmosphere was cozy and the food very tasty.
Fiskmarkadurinn: A take on Asian-Scandinavian fusion. If you're interested in trying whale or puffin, this might be a good stop for you.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: No list would be complete without this popular hot dog stand. These go far beyond your basic ballpark hot dog, though. And, it's right downtown by the harbor, so it's an easy stop while you're visiting the Harpa!
The Laundromat Cafe: You'll see this pop on many lists of where to eat in Reykjavik, and for good reason. This is the place to go if you want a comfortable place to read, do your laundry (yes, really), and have a cold beer and comfort food. We went after spending the day driving through the southern part of the country, and it was the perfect place to relax.
We didn't have a lot of time in Iceland and we knew there was a lot we wanted to see, so we rented a car for a day to take a trip out of Reykjavik and see Southern Iceland. We rented through Cars Iceland and had a great experience. Renting (and fuel) is a bit expensive (and be sure to get the extra insurance!) but we prefer driving ourselves to taking a tour. We were in Iceland in late October, which meant that sunrise was at about 9am, and sunset was about 5:30pm. Since the hours of daylight fluctuate so much in Iceland, it's important to check sunrise/sunset times to make sure you get to see everything you want before it gets too dark! Here was our day, which I tried to plan so that we would arrive to our first stop just after sunrise.
7:30am: First stop: Breakfast! There weren't a lot of places open any earlier than this, but we grabbed some hot tea and sandwiches at C is for Cookie. (Sidenote: Coffee is much more popular than tea in Iceland but if, like me, you're more of a tea drinker, don't worry! Most places have a couple kinds on hand). Then we hit the road on to our first stop: Seljalandsfoss!
9:30am: Seljalandsfoss waterfall is just under 2 hours from Reykjavik. It's a very popular waterfall in Iceland with a path to walk right behind it! There were already a good number of people there when we arrived, including some big tour buses, but it wasn't too crowded.
10:30am: Our next stop, Skogafoss, is just under a half an hour from Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall is on the former coastline, which is now over 3 miles away! There's lots to explore here, with a stairway leading up the right side of the falls for great views. As you can see from the pictures, because of the waterfalls' spray, you'll want to make sure you've got a good waterproof coat and boots no matter what time of year you're going.
12pm: Shortly after we got to Reynisfjara (Black Sand Beach), a storm kicked up (seemingly out of nowhere) and it began to sleet and hail on us so we couldn't spend much time here (a testament to how quickly weather in Iceland can change!). You can see how big the waves are in the picture, and there were warnings along the beach not to go too close to the water. The basalt columns and the black sand beach were really quite a site and it's no wonder that this spot has inspired some Icelandic legends.
12:30pm: Cold and hungry, we were ready for lunch. Vik is a very small town right on the coast. We headed to Suður-Vík Restaurant. I had heard that they had great pizza (what can I say, I love pizza no matter where I am in the world), but their pizza oven was broken at the time so we had some hot soup instead, which was just we needed to warm up and continue on.
2pm: After lunch, we made our way to Kirkjufjara Beach, where we got absolutely stunning views out over the black sand beaches and ocean. The wind was still very strong, but I think the stormy light made for some of my favorite pictures from the trip. In the distance you can see Reynisfjara.
2:30pm: As we made our way back to the main road from Kirkjufjara, we saw a road leading up the cliffs that some (brave) people were driving up and down. The road looked terrifying to me, zig-zagging upwards with no guard rails and with massive potholes all over, but we braved it and very slowly made our way to the top. It was well worth it. We came out onto a peninsula called Dyrhólaey, and the views were amazing.
Depending on the weather, you can see the glacier Mýrdalsjökull to the north, Reynisfjara to the east, and the black sand coastline stretching out to Selfoss. This is one of those times where I was reminded how truly small I am in the world.
3pm: The wind was brutal at the top of the peninsula and another storm came up on us so quickly that we almost didn't make it to the car before being completely soaked. We decided to make our way back to Reykjavik as the sun would be setting in a couple of hours.
The drive itself is quite beautiful and we encountered what seemed like every type of weather and terrain that day. The road is not busy so pulling to the side every once in a while is possible as you see things you want to explore more (a benefit of having your own car!). I met this beautiful Icelandic horse along the way! (I think he was used to having his picture taken).
It's no secret that Paris is one of my favorite places! This Christmas, I'm thinking back on my last trip there for Christmas 2013. It was a short, somewhat spontaneous trip that my husband and I took when we found a great last minute deal. It turned out to be one of the best trips we've ever had. The City of Light is always a beautiful place to be but at Christmas time you can't beat it!
Sometimes it's easy to get so caught up planning trips to far away places that you can forget what's in your own backyard. I'm lucky enough to live with the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (the only national park in Ohio) practically in my backyard, but have yet to explore it very much. So, before all the fall foliage was gone, I went out to see Brandywine Falls, a popular waterfall within the park. It's a short, easy walk from the parking lot with plenty of space at the overlook. There are also trails leading through the surrounding area that are worth checking out.