It’s my 30th birthday!! Woo! Woke up to a lovely birthday card from Eric. We started the day at one of the oldest coffee shops in Iceland, and the first one to own an espresso machine, called Mokka. It was just at the end of our street, and we were the only ones in there on a Monday morning at 10ish. It clearly hasn’t been updated or touched since it opened with dark wood ceilings, and maroon fabric on the walls. They had good coffee and hot chocolate, though, and tasty cakes and waffles. It was a very low key breakfast and morning to start my birthday.
After that we walked up to the Hallgrimskirkja at the other end of our street and went inside. It is beautiful inside there, very bright and minimalist. It is an active church with weekly services and other community activities. Their organ pipes are one of the most impressive parts and I wish the organist had been playing while we were there. Instead we paid to ride the elevator up into the tower and enjoy the view over the city. It started snowing while we were in there, so afterwards we stopped back in the apartment to change our clothes.
We drove to the harbor side of town to visit The Saga Museum which I was incredibly excited about. It is a museum with an audio tour that you listen to as you walk through wax figures depicting various famous stories/sagas through Icelandic history. Some of the stories we already knew and had already heard during our visit, but some were new. And they all help explain and shape modern Iceland. I loved it. At the end there is as a space where you can dress up like a Viking. Turns out chain mail is crazy heavy and also that Icelanders trust you to pose with rather sharp swords and other weapons with no supervision whatsoever. By the time we finished there the snow had really picked up. We walked around the corner to see a monument to the video game EVE Online which is run by an Icelandic company. We took a picture with it, but then scurried back to the car.
We sat in the car trying to decide where to have lunch, and settled on a pub downtown called Frederiksen Ale House. It was really cute and made a great place to watch the snow. They had a 2 for 1 deal if you checked in on Facebook. Considering the crazy prices here that was a really really good deal. So we checked in on Facebook and got 2 for 1 burgers. I got what they called a falafel burger. It did not resemble a falafel in texture or flavor or any other metric. It was tasty and vegetarian, though. After a while we decided that we should walk around in the snow because why not. So we went exploring the downtown street despite the mini blizzard. We ended up in a shop where I finally decided on a couple large ticket items to buy so I could go home with some quality Icelandic clothing. Happy birthday to me.
Next stop was back to the apartment to thaw out and relax. I checked out all my online birthday wishes and called my parents. When we finally looked outside again it was bright and sunny and looked like it had never snowed at all. What in hell goes on in Iceland?? We put on our fancy clothes and decided to walk back downtown. It really isn’t far, everything in Reykjavik is close together as it’s a very small city. But when it’s snowing sideways walking 10 minutes is unappealing. Our first stop of the evening was a bar called Micro. It is a door tucked in a corner with a small sign over it and then once inside you go down some stairs and around a corner. Many of the people inside were describing their difficulty in finding their way here. We came inside and ordered a flight of 10 Icelandic beers to sample. Shockingly, 9 of them were new to us even after all the beers we had already tried. We sat in there sampling the beers for about an hour or so, enjoying the atmosphere and rating the different beers.
At 7pm we had a reservation for my birthday dinner at a cute little restaurant called Skólabrú. We arrived and we’re seated right away. We were practically the first ones in the place, so I’m not sure what they did for two hours since they opened at 5. This was by far the fanciest meal we had all trip, but it was just right for my birthday dinner. White tablecloths, wine list, warm cozy interior and a seat by the window. It was fabulous and we spent about two hours there enjoying ourselves. The quality of the meal was definitely in a different category than the rest of the trip. Eric said his lamb was amazing and my fish was cooked beautifully with a very interesting and well done sauce. They also gave me a free birthday dessert of my choice and brought it out with a little candle in it! Yay!
On our walk back to the apartment we actually ran into two of the other Americans from our brewery tour. It’s a small city, after all! They had done the Golden Circle tour today and were on their way downtown to find dinner themselves. We chatted on the sidewalk a bit and then parted ways again. We all agreed we would like to come back again as Iceland is such a wonderful place. Maybe in the summer next time. In any case it was a little sad to realize this was our final night in Iceland. At least our flight out wasn’t until the evening the next day so we had another full morning and afternoon to enjoy.
Overall, one of the best birthdays I could have imagined!