I had the pleasure of attending a Winter wedding in Iceland this February.
After a few days in Iceland, my friends and I learned that over half of its population believes in elves. This fact seemed to help us accept comments such as 'oh! the elves must have hidden your leggings...' and added to our deep sense of remoteness yet feeling of intimacy with nature there. Iceland is a wonderful place to allow nature to renew your sense of magic.
The rugged terrain, black of the lava fields and volcano-glaciers set against the snow gave us grainy, black and white vistas, occasionally visited with both piercingly beautiful blues skies and sudden, fierce and furious winds. We felt natures roaring prowess and beauty, creating a sense of awe that does make one prone to a bit of magic, and when I found the book, The Sorcerer's Screed at the National Gallery of Iceland, I momentarily got excited about brushing up my sorcery skills and loved the visual language set out in the book.
Here are some things to enjoy in Reykjavík:
SWEET BREAKS The liquorice hot chocolate at Kaffislippur. Cinnamon swirls and apple celery jam at Sandholt bakery. Slip into the cigar-box Mokka Kaffi, for trip back in time - precisely to 1958, when it opened. The oldest and youngest clientele seem to enjoy waffles with whipped cream and jam alongside their coffees. SWEET TRADITIONS. Kransekake: A layered 'wreath' cake, popular for weddings, baptisms, on Christmas or New Year's eve in Iceland, Denmark & Norway. Pure marzipan heaven. The wreathe shape of each cake ring is also symbolic – each ring is broken off and shared. WARM UP with the Sea Baron's fragrant lobster soup or a casual evening dinner at Snaps. If you are exploring the area past the Maritime Museum, take a lunch break at the CooCoo's Nest, then browse next door at Búrið keeping 'curd nerds' satisfied with a lovely selection of dairy and other products from small, local producers. Pick up some rhubarb caramels. COOL DOWN A few more steps past Búrið land you at Valdís, with its delicious homemade ice cream that locals seems to enjoy even in Winter! NIGHT VIBES Housed in a former biscuit factory, Kex Hostel ('kex' is the word for biscuit in Icelandic) achieves an addictively comfy-cool atmosphere that would make all Ace Hotels jealous. Great for dinner and often has live music. SPECIAL THINGS TO TAKE HOME As I embraced the Winter more and more each day, when I passed the perfume shop, Madison, I was hoping to find an a scent that captured what I had been smelling the past few days. I was introduced to the collection of artist Andrea Maak, an artist who grew up in Reykjavík and uses her artwork, photographs and samples of the landscape as a starting points for the formulations, which capture her impressions the unique natural environment there. GET COZY Wool production has always been central to Icelandic craft and tradition. Geysir spins modern takes on the wool blanket in exciting color combinations and patterns. THIS & THAT Enamelware and beautiful wooden door handles are just a few of the good finds at the local hardware store Brynja, an institution since 1919. CULTURAL CLOSENESS The Safnahúsið (the Culture House) is an architectural gem, recently renovated and currently shows the exhibit Points of View, that takes visitors on a journey through Iceland's visual culture. Continue your Icelandic art discovery with some lunch or a cocktail across the street at the 101 Hotel which houses a great collection of Icelandic art in their public spaces. FACETED FANCY The Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre commands attention, take a walk around outside and inside to catch different perspectives of the space and its relationship to the site, looking through the irregular facets of the glass facade, a collaboration between Danish architects Henning Larsen and artist Olafur Eliasson. A JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH If you have time to travel from Reykjavík, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula's terrain is captivating. Búdahraun (Búdir Lava) plays host to uniquely diverse flora. Look out for the True Lover's Knot, which is among the 31 protected plant species in Iceland. Stay or dine at Hotel Budir, have a drink from the living room and watch the tide come in, and be sure to visit the goth-fairytale black chapel next door.