Trip report [Iceland]

Haven’t sampled the Arctic thyme (or if we did, I didn’t realize it). I wonder if those types of herbs are being used in fancier joints (ie, Dill or Matur og drykkur) which we definitely steer clear of with spring onion.

All you Hungry Onions are going to think I’m crazy…we went back to Iceland for a 4th time this past late March-early April. B saw an unbelievable fare on WOW (more on that later) and flew the 3 of us there round-trip from Boston for less than $600 TOTAL. Insane, non? We spent most of our time in Akureyri (Northern Iceland). Unless otherwise noted, all meals out were in in Akureyri. The US dollar was quite strong, getting even stronger while we were there…an ominous sign of things to come.

We didn’t eat out much, it only took 3 trips to get through our thick skulls that eating out in Iceland, especially with a preschooler, is usually not rewarding. We don’t mind high prices, but the value ratio has been on the low side on our previous trips (eg, paying nearly $20 for a pizza that was basically at supermarket level). I gotta say, I did some of my best travel cooking on this trip, using lots of canned beans and Linda McCartney veggie meat substitutes. I actually like meat substitutes and more importantly, so does B.

Trip started off with a bang when we inadvertently drove through a blizzard as we were crossing a mountain pass. You think you’ve seen a blizzard? You’ve not seen an Icelandic blizzard. Your truly was behind the wheel. I’m a very calm driver and even I was jelly-legged by the time we reached Akureyri (B and I couldn’t even switch when we were in whiteout conditions…opening a car door would risk having the car door blown off and I’m not exaggerating). Spring onion happily and obliviously watched “Octonauts” in his car seat. By the time we reached Akureyri, I was glad we had purchased a box of wine at the airport and I got down to cooking…I made a veggie chili that hit the spot. And did I mention, lots of wine?

I restricted my grocery purchases to produce that was not packaged up in plastic. Some of the Linda McCartney stuff was in plastic bags, which made me sad. And we bought canned beans, dried pasta, rice, onion, garlic. Some things I made were: veggie sausage+chickpeas over pasta; black bean soup; baked potato+broccoli+cheese; fried rice+broccoli+red bell pepper+vegan shredded hoisin duck (I loved this); chickpea veggie soup.

Other food moments included:
-Really good bread from Bruna (much lighter crumb than back home, but good crust; we had spinach olive sourdough, seeded sourdough, and our favorite, a sesame sourdough). We had several “meals” in the car of bread and cheese from Bonus grocery store
-Bryggjan for the lunch buffet. It used to be only pizza but they have expanded it. There were dreamy mashed potatoes; fish with red bell pepper, potato, leeks; potato soup; meatballs; pizza; french fries. ~$20 per adult and spring onion was free. A second visit was not as good (different cook?). Dried out lasagna, fish and chips, boiled potatoes, yummy mushy peas, pizza.
-Happy hour at Olegard/Einstok is awesome
-Gamli bautur [Husavik]: Tasty lunch of grilled prawns on salad (a bit overdressed, but plentiful and perfectly cooked prawns) and cod with delicious barley salad (see attached photos). Spring onion turned his nose up to grilled chicken with a drizzle of chimichurri (from the kids’ menu! B was like, I’d eat that any day…we took it home and put it in B’s portion of veggie soup).
-Happy hour at Backpackers is fun and raucous as usual. Only cheapo beers are discounted at HH, to B’s chagrin.
-Lunch buffet at Rub 23: Best restaurant meal of our trip. I can’t believe it took us this long to try this place out. Not necessarily the best makimono/sashimi, but it’s all fresh and plentiful. There are also 2 different fish dishes (salmon and cod, both perfectly cooked), a Korean-y beef dish, pork katsu, plenty of different salads. It’s a great value and the restaurant is fancy! It’s a welcome change. ~$25 per adult.
-Happy hour at R5 also has only the cheapo beers discounted. BOO.
-Stedji Brewery is interesting and fun until…we see “Whale Beer,” which has components of fin whale. Which is a big bummer, because we liked the IPA.
-Fun last lunch at Grandi Matholl in Reykjavik. We only wanted a snack, so we went with french fries through the eyes of a nutty Korean cook. They were so good - kimchee, chilis, bulgogi, with a creamy sauce on top.

We were scheduled to come back on Saturday, March 30. We found out Thursday, April 28 that WOW had grounded all flights. Luckily, B didn’t have to be back in the office until Wed, April 3. We managed to find an Icelandair flight on Tuesday, April 2. I did a little jig when I found out that our vacation would be extended. And I knew I was coming back to some newly-developing health issues for my mom (my dad had already been struggling, post-stroke). I know that makes me sound like a bad daughter, but the additional days away were welcome.

And I got to watch “All the President’s Men” on the flight home (WOW didn’t have in-flight entertainment). I’ve seen this about 6 times now, and it never gets old. And it’s as relevant as ever.

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Terrific report.

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WOW. You are inspiring to go! How old is your little one and how old was he on your first trip?

You don’t sound like a bad daughter. Health issues are hard. Hope your mom is ok.

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Lovely vacation, you worth that! I should get off my butt and do it one day. LOL!

That light!

BTW, have you ever traveled to Faroe Islands? This is the place I want to go, it’s strange that it is Danish, but they are closer to Iceland.

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Enjoying these reports each and every time!

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Spring was just over 2.5 years old when he first went to Iceland. He’s now just over 4. We’ve been keeping him on the go since his first international trip to Turks and Caicos at 4 months old (although I don’t really count beach vacations as a trip since there is no culture to speak of).

Our Icelandair flight home was delayed due to 2 mechanical issues as we sat on the tarmac. As a seasoned traveler, spring onion took it all in stride. (And the in-flight entertainment didn’t hurt.)

I have mentioned Faroe to B a couple of times, so yes, we are interested. I think our next international trip will be to the Azores this July since we are tagging along with friends. Yes, we like islands!

I forgot to mention that Grandi Matholl is a small food hall in the Old Harbor area of Reykjavík and the food stalls are actually reasonably priced by Icelandic standards. The Korean French fries were from the “Kore: Korean street food” stand. They say they are the only Korean restaurant in all of Iceland so I had to try something even though we weren’t hungry yet.


That is excellent. My girl will be 2 next month and we are tossing around a South France or Milan-ish trip when her school is closed late June. Love to hear about other parents traveling with their little ones that isn’t just to Disney.


Loved your trip report as always. Those Northern Lights!! And the kimchee fries, yum…

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“ The US dollar was quite strong, getting even stronger while we were there…an ominous sign of things to come.”

Your comment caught my eye the first time because Wheel of Fortune was pushing trips to Iceland instead of the usual Mexico, Turks and Caico Islands, Panama etc. They still are… I notice things like that.

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