Reyjavik- through foreign and local eyes

by Alison, 18/11/2014

Sometimes it's cool to be a blogger. There is no way to say that without sounding a bit hipster and a lot like an eejit. Nevertheless it is true. Within the short-time we have had the blog, it has helped us to meet and contact with people we may never have otherwise. One of these people was Audur a lovely and engaging lady who spent a morning showing us around Reykjavik.

Audur writes an Icelandic travel blog called I heart Reykjavik and here she shares all of her knowledge and local insight into Reyjavik and Iceland in general. Aside from curating this lovely sight Audur also conducts walking tours around Reyjavik. Here comes the advantage of writing a blog. Audur was kind enough to let us join her tour for free. As long as she had other guests booked she was happy to let us join and we were happy to pay if nobody else booked in. Luckily for us a Norwegian couple booked a tour.  

Generally I don't like to take tours. However here was a city we knew nothing about and what we thought was limited time to go and explore it. The tour would be a way to get us off on the right foot and ensure we captured the essence of the city in our limited time.

As it turns out Reykjavik is small and very easy to navigate so you could definitely wander at your leisure and see the city easily. However it is always great to get a locals perceptive on where to eat, where to drink, their lived experience of the city and thinking on what makes it tick. Audur discussed the difficulties Icelander's have experienced in the last number of years. While our government's ways of dealing with the economic crisis may have appeared drastically different, speaking to Audur and hearing about the effects on the average Icelander I could have been talking to any of my friends at home. House prices, emigration and an ever growing discrepancy between the social classes are all issues there too.

Audur's tour took us from the Hallgrimskirkja, the most iconic church in Reykjavik, to the Austurvollur, a public square and meeting place. 

On our tour she focused on the hidden elements of the city. From the Einar Jonsson sculpture museum and garden, to the street art, some of which is now being sponsored by the town councils in an effort to rejuvenate neighbourhoods. 

She inspired us to go and see the most beautiful installation in the Harpa. This unique building is definitely a fun place to take your camera and if you are heading to Reykjavik I would definitly recommend researching up-coming shows. Its hosts everything from opera to headline acts at the Airwaves Music Festival.

Audur brought us to get the best coffee in town and explained why we shouldn't worry when we see unattended prams outside shops and restaurants with the babies still inside them. She showed us where the most popular and cheapest meal in the city is and I think it might have been a locals insight that convinced Ollie that sometimes it is worth it to queue for food.  

She does not know it but it was also her blog posts that helped me to book Ollie's birthday dinner and the food at Grillmarkadurinn was delicious. Though if you get the tasting menu go hungry. The portions we got could have fed 3 people, possibly 4.

While I might still think twice about going on a guided tour, our morning with Audur was a really enjoyable way to get to know Europe's most northerly capital.