After the Blue Lagoon, we decided to explore the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, before we started our tour around Iceland the following day. The first landmark we strolled past was the Harpa Concert Hall. This is one of Reykjavik's iconic landmarks and sits right on the water. It was designed between Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, and the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects and opened in 2011.
Looking up into the geometric windows and the different colors glimmering off from the reflection of the sun was quite stunning and a pretty cool design for a building.
We walked along the water to go find the Sun Voyager sculpture. Although it was a sunny day, don't let that fool you. It was FREEZING!! The wind was blowing hard along the water and I had to cover my whole face to feel like it was getting frozen off. #AdventuresinIceland
After fighting the winds, we got to the Sun Voyager. This sculpture was unveiled during Reykjavik's birthday on August 18, 1990 and was the winning piece for an outdoor sculpture competition to celebrate Reykjavik's 200 year anniversary in 1986. Designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason, this ship was designed as a dream boat, and an ode to the sun, contained within itself the promise of undiscovered territory and a dream of hope, progress, and freedom.
It makes for a great photo opportunity as the sun glistens off it with Mt. Esja and the ocean in the background. It did not disappoint, and reminded me of a viking ship which have long histories in Iceland.
We then headed up the hill to go check out the famous Hallgrímskirkja Church. Along the way we got to check out some of Reykjavik's beautiful street art. These murals are spread out throughout the city but add so much color and beauty. Most of the street art was part of a project called Wall Poetry which took place in 2015 and 2016. It was a collaboration between artists and bands and for artists to paint murals inspired by the artists songs.
A majority of the famous street art and one of the most colorful streets I saw in Reykjavik was on Laugavegur street. This is also a great shopping street and one of the oldest streets in the capital, roughly translating to "Water/Wash Road". This is because it used to be where women would bring their laundry to be washed in the hot springs.
Since it's one of the tallest buildings in Reyjkavik, we were able to spot the Hallgrímskirkja Church easily while walking up to it. This church was designed to resemble the basalt columns found in Iceland's natural landscapes and took over 40 years to build. It stands at 240 ft (74.5 meters) high and is the tallest building in the country.
In front of the church, there's a statue of Leifur Eiríksson, who was the first European to set foot in North America around 1,000 AD (500 years before Christopher Columbus #schooltaughtmelies). It was a gift from the United States on the 1,000th anniversary of the establishment of Iceland's parliament in 930 AD.
Our next stop was one that I had been waiting for all day. I had first heard about this place on Stassi's podcast from Vanderpump Rules (I know, I'm addicted to reality TV and it's my guilty pleasure #sorrynotsorry) Katie and her hubby Schwartz had come to Iceland and visited this spot. As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to come here. For anyone that knows me, this was right up my alley. Iceland's Phallological Museum (aka penis museum) - what would this magical place be filled with?!
Well the museum did not let me down and was more than I expected. #thanksvanderpumprules #straightupwithstassi #livingmylifefromrealitytvadvice #ohboy (Let it be known, it took some convincing for me to get Nate to come with me to this)
This museum has the largest display of penises and penile parts in the world with a collection of more than 215 penises and penile parts belonging to almost all land and sea mammals found in Iceland. These include 56 specimens belonging to 7 different kinds of whales and walrus, and 115 specimens from 20 different land mammals. In addition, the museum also has many different phallic art and crafts on display and supposed Huldufolk (Icelandic elves) and troll penises.... And in July 2011, the museum acquired its first human penis but it wasn't able to be preserved as well as they hoped.
There was a lot to see and I did not expect such a large collection. How or what made the founder want to do something like this? Apparently when Sigurður Hjartarson was younger, he was given a cattle whip made from a bull's penis and thus began his fascination and the beginning of his collection. One of his goals with this museum was for individuals to undertake serious study into the field of phallology in an organized, scientific fashion. #pointmade
After the highlight of my trip (haha), we continued to stroll the streets of Reykjavik until I saw a familiar sign in the distance, Brew Dog - so we stopped in for an afternoon beer #craftbeerlover #canspotitfromamileaway
We stopped in for a refreshing beverage and to give our feet a break from all the exploring we had done. We met a fun group of people from the UK who kept us entertained during our stay :)
After Brew Dog, we went for Happy Hour round 2 at a bar I had read about that was themed like the Big Lebowski - yes please!
Apparently there's also a Chuck Norris place too - Reykjavik just keeps getting cooler.
Chuck Norris uses pepper spray to spice up his steaks. Fact.
Chuck Norris can win a game of chess in only one move... a roundhouse kick to the face. Fact.
We found it, in all it's shining glory, the Lebowski Bar! This place was great and decorations / theme was on point. Of course I had to pay homage to The Dude and get a White Russian in his honor. #itreallytiedtheroomtogether
After our Happy Hour(s), we swung by our room quick to relax a bit before dinner and so Nate could knock out some homework (that's called balance - school and vacationing :) )
Before dinner, we decided to grab a few local Icelandic craft beers at the Icelandic Craft Bar. The bartender working was super friendly, passionate, and knowledgeable. I told him I worked for Stone and what types of hops and flavors I liked and he recommended a couple great beers to try #cheers #craftbeerfriendsfromaroundtheworld
Here we also learned some fun facts about living in Iceland and more about the infamous fermented shark. The fermented shark tastes like ammonia because it's the Greenland shark, which doesn't pee but has it leak through it's skin. It has a lot of urea (toxic) and TMAO (trimethylamine oxide) in high concentrations in its body and the human body will turn TMAO poisonous during digestion. Back in the day, people used to die eating eat it until one day a guy buried it (thinking he couldn't eat it because it would kill him). A few months later he was so hungry he was either going to die from starvation or eating the shark, so he dug it up and ate it. It didn't kill him! And hence began the tradition of eating fermented shark. It's best to soak the meat or dry it, which is another reason why the fermented shark is normally taken with a shot known as the Black Death, Brennivin. And yes, they serve it here. We could smell the fermented shark as soon as they opened the dish to grab a piece for someone trying this concoction.... #notpleasant #neveragain
Other fun facts, beer wasn't legal in Iceland until 1989 since Prohibition had banned it 100 years earlier. They've come along way in just a few years with craft beer bars popping up all over the country.
After some pre dinner beers, it was finally time for our reservation at Grillmarkaðurinn (Grill Market). I had read about this place before coming to Iceland and wanted to live up to the theme of "Treat Yo Self" this trip - this restaurant fell right in line.
After our beers we weren't super hungry so we shared a few dishes as an evening snack. Everything was delicious, local Icelandic specialties, and was the perfect amount.
We started with grilled minke whale. I had tried this the night before and it was so good, and just as good (if not better) the second time. It almost reminded me of seared ahi. After that we tried a trio of Puffin (#sorry!), whale, and langoustine (like mini lobsters) mini burgers. These had interesting textures and flavors but all were delightful.
For dessert, we ended the meal with a trio of Icelandic cheeses. These were served with some local jam, honey, fruit, and biscuits. #sogood
With our belly's full and content, we headed back to get a good night's rest before starting our 4-day tour around Iceland in the morning.
Until next time folks!
Follow in our Footsteps:
Harpa Concert Hall
Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 9am - 10am
Sæbraut, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: Oct - Apr (9am - 5pm), Summer (9am - 9pm)
Cost: Adults ISK 1000 ($8-$9), Children ISK 100 ($1)
Icelandic Phallological Museum
Laugavegur 116, Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 10am - 6pm
Cost: 1700 ISK ($13-$14)
Frakkastígur 8, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 12pm - 1am
Laugavegur 20a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 11am - 1am S-Th, 11am - 4:30am F-S
Icelandic Craft Bar
Lækjargata 6a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 11:30am - 1am
Lækjargata 2a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Hours: 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Megan Bond - AUTHOR
Just a girl raised in California and loved exploring Southeast Asia with my husband! We're back in the States but still exploring the world as much as we can!