Reykjavik (pronounced as REYK-ya-veek) sits just above the 64th parallel north, making it the world’s northernmost capital city of a sovereign state.
Located in southwestern Iceland, a Nordic island country that has Greenland as its nearest neighbour nearly 300km away. It is home to more than 123 000 people, or more than one-third of the total population of Iceland.
Reykjavik was believed to have first been settled by the Vikings in the 9th century. There are no direct flights from Singapore, but daily flights from major European capitals such as London or Paris take about three hours to reach Reykjavik. For my trip, I flew with WOWair from Paris to Reykjavik, paying around 150 euros for a return ticket.
Iceland is one of a select group of countries near the Earth’s northern and southern poles to experience the Midnight Sun, whereby the sun rises (or does not set at all) before midnight. This is due to the tilt in the Earth’s axis towards the sun during the summer months. On the other hand, the daylight hours are short during winter time and most people who visit Iceland in winter would try to catch the northern lights (aurora borealis).
Between May and August, you can sit by the harbour in Reykjavik when it is approaching midnight to see the sun dip just slightly below the horizon, before rising for another day again. Other notable experiences in Reykjavik include visiting the visually stunning Hallgrimskirkja church, the Harpa concert hall and the Perlan museum; skating on the frozen Tjornin pond, grabbing snacks such as Icelandic hotdogs or watching rock music concerts from geothermal pools.
In terms of food, fish and seafood are the obvious to have in Iceland. However, lamb, potatoes and a yoghurt-like dairy product called skyr are also other food that you may get to sample. While cod, salmon and lobster are familiar to our palate, whale and fermented shark are also available for the adventurous.
Beyond the lamb, which Icelanders claim to be the best in the world, you can try horse, reindeer or puffin.
Icelandic sausages tend to be made from lamb, as well as pork and beef. The most popular hot dog stand is Baejarins Best Pylsur, where you should order hot dogs with everything on them – mustard, ketchup, remoulade and raw or fried onions. It’s most famous patron to date? Former US president Bill Clinton.