We’d been in Iceland for several days, heading out each day to a different part of the country from our home base in Reykjavik, and I got to the point where I didn’t want to be around any people. This is not unusual for me. It’s unusual that I lasted as long as I did. So, on a day when there were no excursions for which I’d pre-paid, I stayed behind as the rest of the group bundled up and headed out at dawn. I slept until 10 a.m. I took a leisurely shower and tried again to rinse the Blue Lagoon out of my swimsuit. And then I headed out for my own adventure.
And by adventure, I mean I walked down the street from the hotel to the bookstore, where I poked around the stacks for a couple of hours. Iceland has great bookstores.
And after the bookstore, I went to, by many accounts, the best restaurant in Reykjavik, the Old Iceland Restaurant. I think that Fiskfelagid/Fish Company gives it a run for its money for that top ranking, but that’s another story and a radically different experience, so I’m just going to call it a tie. Please note, if you really, really want to eat at Old Iceland for dinner, you can make reservations for 5:30 or 6 p.m. After that, it’s walk-ins only, and there’s probably going to be a wait. It’s worth it. Wait.
I, however, went for lunch, for which they offer a three-course menu for a pretty decent price, and including wine pairings (with nice, healthy pours). I was sat immediately in the cozy, homey space, and honestly, it’s over a year later since I ate this meal, but I still think of it often. I’m ranking those sweet, peaceful, delicious minutes as some of my most favorite of my week in Iceland, and I had some pretty spectacular moments.
If you find yourself in Reykjavik, make it a priority to have a meal at Old Iceland. I’d wanted to go back that night for dinner with my travel companions, but they didn’t make it back in time for a reservation, and there being nine of us, waiting for a table would have been a challenge (which is why we ended up going to Fiskfelagid that night, so perhaps this was a bit of good fortune, as I got to eat two spectacular meals in one day).
And if you need a bit of peace and quiet after days of hiking glaciers and slogging through black sand and avoiding killer waves and getting a little lost here and there, and being around a lot of people a lot of time, then wave goodbye to your companions for the day and take yourself to lunch. Skál!
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