On the head rest of the plane
We arrive in Iceland at around 7 AM, and it is pitch black outside. So weird, it feels like it is 3 AM. At the airport I get a container of Skyr (This thick and delicious Icelandic Yogurt) because I saw Andrew Zimmerman try it when his foodnetwork show went to Iceland. We hop on the Flybus from the airport to our hostel. En route I try the Skyr, and alas I am hooked ! We get to the hostel, and we meet up with Simone (a great Italian friend who I met through trav buddy when he came to NY. He is only here for 2 days so we are trying to see a lot of stuff while he is here).
We can't check in yet, so we put our luggage in the luggage room and change into our outdoor clothes and get ready to go caving ! A bus picks us up from the hostel and drives us to the middle of no where to a place that looks like Mars ! I later find out that the astronauts really did train here before going to the moon, because the terrain is so similar ! The bus makes a stop to show us hundreds of fish skeletons hanging to dry outside. They later sell these dried skeletons (with some fish meat left on) to Nigeria for a soup they make that uses the protein in the bones. We take some pictures and get back on the bus. Once the bus stops, we get out and suit up in bright orange jumpsuits that make us look like a chain gang, helmets and little flashlights on the helmet. I have my puffy white winter jacket on underneath, as well as my lumberjack hat with the earflaps ( both of which I regretted wearing once we got into the caves because I was soooo hot ! ).
7:57 AM and pitch black outside.
We walk a bit into the lava fields (lots of flat land covered in hardened lava rocks and snow) and we come to the mouth of the cave. We all enter one by one and follow our guide through narrow passages and wide passages and listen to him tell us about the different rock formations. We get to an open spot and he has us all sit and turn out the lights on our helmets so we can experience total darkness in the cave. It was so cool ! While here he tells us a story about 5 different people who had stolen rocks from this particular cave, only to experience terrible nightmares afterwards, they each either returned, or mailed the rocks back to Iceland and the nightmares went away. Even after these stories a guy in our group took a bunch of rocks ! We stayed in the caves for about 2 hours exploring different passages etc, and finally head back for the bus.
Skyr, the first of many ! I am on a mission to find it in the US
The bus drops us off in town instead of the hostel, at our request so we can check out the Super Cheesy Flea Market. But before entering the flea market we each have to try the world famous hot dogs. They were amazing !!!!!! Ask for one with everything on it, and you get fried crunchy onions, regular onions, and 2 types of sauce. One was a mustard type of sauce the other was kind of creamy. You can buy the mustard-y one at the supermarket, it comes in a white bottle with the name of the hot dog stand on it. This stand has been here since the 1930s. I don't usually even like hotdogs, but this was divine ! We finish the hot dogs and head for the Flea Market.
Lots of dried Fish bones. They keep it in the fields to dry for months and then sell it to Nigeria, because they use it in a soup that they make.
We wander around looking at old VHS tapes and random knickknacks until we get to the food section, we wander around looking at all the types of fish till we get to the shark. There is a woman handing out little cubes of it to try, so of course I try it & immediately regret it. Worst experience ever! It was sooo awful, I still shudder to think about it. I will never eat shark again! It was like when you chew minty gum and you get a whiff of mintiness, well it was kind of the same, but instead of mint you get a whiff of ammonia-y salineish-ness. And the taste stays coated on your tounge allllllllll day. You are supposed to have a shot of Brennevin afterwards, which we didn't do.
I guess that makes the tast go away. Well after exploring the flea market we board the city bus back to the hostel, finally check in to our room, get dressed and head back into town for dinner. Our cave guide had told us about a restaurant with famous lobster soup called "The Sea Baron,” we find out how to get there and we head off. However, we get off the bus where we were supposed to and can't find the restaurant. We head to a gas station and ask someone there, and he tells us we are really close and points to where we need to go. We walk over and see a restaurant, with an Icelandic name that ends in Barinn (sounds like Baron), and pictures of fish on the wall. We assumed the first word in the title meant Sea and we headed in (we were at the wrong restaurant).
Suited up for caving !
However I am glad we made the mistake ! This restaurant was great ! We ordered the fish soup and it was delicious ! We washed it down with an Icelandic beer. The chef was written up in many Icelandic newspaper articles. After dinner, we walked into the center of town (on the way passing the real "Sea Baron" Restaurant, which wasn't even a restaurant, more of a soup counter, so glad we went to the first place)) , most places were closing and the streets were empty, so we walked to the famous Hallgrimskirkja (Hallgrim's Church in Icelandic), only to find it was closed and the outside was covered in scaffolding. We wanted to go out to a bar or club, but it was 9:30 pm on a Sunday and most places were closed or empty, so we started to head back, until we saw a huge line of cars, with young people dressed up for a night on the town. They were all driving somewhere, so we decided to follow them to see what new hip club they were heading to.
We followed them for about an hour ! There were about 40 cars in a row. We went up streets, down streets, until we realized, they started going down the same streets twice, or taking the long way around and we started wondering what was going on. We stop to ask a taxi driver at the hotdog stand and he tells us it is a "Car Club" where people drive around. We think he doesn't know what he is talking about and head back to the hostel. Once there we ask a girl who works there, and she reaffirms this ! She said that the kids who have their license, but aren't old enough to go to clubs, just drive around with each other and party in their cars all night ! She said sometimes, they even have microphones and will start singing to you or do silly things lol.
Entrance to the cave
It was too funny ! We finally head to sleep because we have to wake up early to board the bus for our Blue Lagoon & Golden Circle Tour !
Best hotdogs ever !