Reykjavik 101 - free tours on Friday!

Reykjavik Travel Blog

 › entry 2 of 8 › view all entries
Hidden folk live here. :)

On Fridays in the winter, a local man gives free tours around the city for a few hours - rain or shine!  I believe they occur more regularly in the warmer months.  

The late sunrise threw me off, and I woke up around 11am, much later than I intended.  Showered, dressed, and fed, I set out to go on the free walking tour of Reykjavik.  This was a GREAT decision.  The guide was very knowledgeable, very liberal and very funny.  We learned about various political and historic buildings, architecture, Icelandic culture, and ways to save money around town.  It was a perfect introduction to the country.  My favorite part might have been seeing a rock where the "hidden folk" live!  

After the tour, I went with a trio of Australians to the infamous hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur.

The oldest tree in Reykjavik, in what was formerly a cemetery.
  I had to rock the hot dog without a bun (gluten intolerance) and without the "brown sauce," which also contained wheat.  The other condiments were a mayonnaise concoction, ketchup, raw onions and fried onions.  It was good, but nothing I'd need to travel to Iceland just to eat.  VERY cheap...typically 300kr (approx. $2.50), the vendor only charged me 100kr (80 cents) for a bun-less hot dog!  Not too shabby!  From the hot dog stand, we wandered through various art galleries in the city centre, and then I parted ways with the Australians to warm up at the guest house.  

The tour guide had mentioned a free concert at Harpa, the large new music hall, at 5 o'clock.  By the time I headed out from the guest house around 4:30, the city was already dark.

Inside Harpa - breathtaking!
 Unable to spot the Harpa as I had hoped, I became quite lost and had to ask someone for directions.  As fate would have it, the woman I asked on the sidewalk was also going to the free concert at Harpa!  We walked there together and chatted about Iceland.  The coincidence was even more amazing when I realized there were only about 30 people at the free concert.  It was a group of six women playing brass instruments for Þrettándin, or the Thirteenth (and final) night of Christmas.  All evening, locals were setting off fireworks and having bonfires to celebrate.  The concert was wonderful, but only lasted about 30 minutes.  Oddly enough, the only song I recognized was Walk Away, Renee.  

After the concert, I walked around, hungrily trying to find something affordable and warm to eat.

Seafood soup at Duram
 I ended up at Duram, a little sandwich shop, and had some delicious seafood soup with lobster, shrimp and scallops in it.  I then walked back to the guest house to wait until live music started at bars.  I had intended to walk about 2 miles to the beach to see a bonfire, but the sidewalks were incredibly icy and I had already fallen once.  I found out the next day that people were unable to light the bonfires due to the rain, so I made the right decision.

Bedda, the guest house owner, had told me that Kaffi Rosenberg was a great place to hear live music alone, because it was a great atmosphere.  Unfortunately, that night a jazz band was playing, which I was not willing to pay 1500kr to see.  Instead, I headed to other bars I knew would have live music.  First I went to English Pub, but there was a soccer game going on, Liverpool vs. Oldham.  I ordered a drink anyway and watched the end of the game.  Bored, I moved on to The Dubliner, where a musician had just started playing songs in the corner.  There weren't a lot of people there, and I'm just not very good at striking up conversations with strangers.  I enjoyed the music for a couple of hours while writing in a notebook, then decided I had had enough of being by myself at a bar.  It was rather depressing.  As I was trying to leave, a stranger grabbed my face and started kissing me! I had to shove him away, three times, and awkwardly leave the bar.  That was the end of going out alone!  On the upside, Reykjavik is so safe that I felt completely comfortable walking back to the guest house at 1:00 AM.

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Hidden folk live here. :)
Hidden folk live here. :)
The oldest tree in Reykjavik, in w…
The oldest tree in Reykjavik, in …
Inside Harpa - breathtaking!
Inside Harpa - breathtaking!
Seafood soup at Duram
Seafood soup at Duram
Reykjavik
photo by: MadeleineGL