It was still dark when we woke – it doesn’t get light until after 11am during Winter, but at least it means that we sleep lots when we visit Iceland at this time of year! I really enjoy waking up to ‘twilight skies’, and have always felt very safe walking around Iceland in the dark as it’s a pretty safe country. As a lone female traveler on my first visit, I never felt uncomfortable or at risk when exploring at night. You can’t say the same about many other countries unfortunately. Even in my home town I’m always looking over my shoulder at night, so is it any wonder that I cried on the flight home from that first trip?
I remember one walking guide telling me that I was “so weird” because “you look Icelandic, you sound Icelandic”, all thanks to my Welsh accent. I took it as the ultimate compliment 🙂 In Iceland you’re seen to be cool if you’re quirky, and that’s just fine with me. No one thinks we’re odd for preferring to walk our way around the world; for wearing a very snazzy looking brain stem implant – Rich’s ABI; or for having to lip speak in public places. We’ve gotten used to the stares in the UK and elsewhere, but here they’re lacking, and I love you for it Iceland.
After a heavenly breakfast of blueberry skyr – the national dessert that is actually a type of cheese, and tastes delicious, we strolled down to the nearest hot dog kiosk to get some change for the bus. Unless you have a bus pass you need the exact change as the drivers won’t give you any. The buses are very reasonably priced though, run from early until very late, and you can buy tickets and passes from quite a few places in town, including the bus stations and tourist information centres. In Reykjavik you can buy one, two or 3 day bus passes as well as single tickets, and you can change buses using the same ticket as long as you do so within 75 minutes of purchase.
We caught the 12.28pm No.14 bus into the centre of Reykjavik and got off near the pond – Tjornin so that we could go and see the ducks and swans. Even when the pond is frozen, geothermal water is pumped into one corner to keep it free of ice so that the birds have somewhere to paddle and feed. It’s a very popular spot for ice skating, feeding the birds by hand, and taking photographs of friendly geese.
From Tjornin we crossed over to Harpa – the magnificent concert hall, and walked along the coastal footpath to Laugarnes and the Videy Ferry Harbour. The path was thick with ice but we didn’t have to worry thanks to the trusted yaktrax. Laugarnes is very scenic. It’s one of the few bits of natural beach left in North Reykjavik, and is perfect for dog walking or a picnic. One daft dog escaped its owner and bounded over for cuddles, but otherwise we saw few people.
The ferry only runs to Videy during the Winter at weekends or for Peace Tower events, but the ticket office has a bench outside so we stopped off for a drink and snack before walking back up towards Laugardalur Park and the apartment. We’d visited the Peace Tower on our last trip two years ago, but when lit it’s visible from the harbour, and from lots of high points throughout the city, including the apartment balcony!
I’d started to feel a bit rough by the time we’d reached Laugarnes, having only slept for three hours the night before, and after several weeks of not sleeping so well. My fault entirely – I’d let stress get the better of me, so it was only a matter of time before my body decided to put a stop to the nonsense. I went to bed after a quick snack, but three hours later woke to a migraine, and spent the next six hours shuffling between the bed and toilet. Fortunately Rich was happy to spend the time reading, snacking and snoozing in the living room, whilst I focused on breathing, and willing sleep to come and bring temporary relief.