Driving my way around Iceland

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kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 13:55:37 (permalink)
And since I mentioned how, in much of Iceland, the best option for food is the gas station... I present a typical higher-end N1 station:

The N1 Station in Hvolsvöllur. 

N1 is probably Iceland's largest retailer, running a rather large (by Icelandic standards) chain of over 100 gas stations, ranging from self-service kiosks (which proved to be relatively good at defending themselves from any attempt of mine to exchange a credit card for diesel) to full service stations.

But one thing is almost a given if you are doing like I and travel around Iceland, you will eventually find yourself hungry and in need of food, and through location, time, or other factors, N1 is going to be your best option.

But if it's an N1 that's at all staffed, there's a good chance they at least have hot dogs, and probably a full food menu as well:



Both a burger counter:



And a hot dog counter:




kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 13:56:38 (permalink)
Well, we came to  Hveragerði, and thought that stopping by their nice outdoor heated pool would be pleasant.

After August 20th, they shifted to autumn hours, and weren't open when we showed up.

So we decided to check out the river in town, the Varma (literally, "Warm River").  To get to the source springs, it's a fairly long hike.  They warn you that some of the springs are literally boiling hot:



For some reason I didn't take pictures of the springs themselves, but around 5km back into the hills, the river is nice and pleasantly warm (around 85 degrees).  If it hadn't taken so long to hike back here, I would have taken a dip.





Looking back at Hveragerði as we leave town, seeing one of the greenhouses lit up radioactive orange.


Coming back to Hveragerði was a bit of a sad moment, since it meant our trip was near an end.  Comparing this photo to the one taken one week earlier, you can see that with this image we have literally gone full circle, and completed our Great Circle tour of Iceland.  That's it for the driving tour.  A few more photos of Reykjavik food still to show, but that was the loop.  2600 km of driving, 9 days.
post edited by kaszeta - 2012/10/11 13:57:51
agnesrob
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 14:04:45 (permalink)
Sad for the end of this report but anxiously awaiting the last pictures!
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 15:28:33 (permalink)
The hot dogs you've shown look to be pretty substantial...do they average around 3-4 oz. in weight?
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 15:35:47 (permalink)
Probably around 3oz.  They were pretty big (and about halfway in length between standard US and footlong dogs)
ann peeples
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/11 20:43:21 (permalink)
I cant tell you how much this trip means to me. My friend(and exchange student to Whitefish Bay, Wi) was Thorfinnur Gudnason. He became one of my best friends in 1974-1977. My best friend dated him until 1987. She visited Iceland twice during those years. He shared so much of his country, and thank you for extending the beauty!We still talk after 40 years..............
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/12 08:28:20 (permalink)
With our various diversions, we got back into Reykjavik rather late, but were able to get into Sjávargrillið  ("Seafood Grill") for dinner.  It was delicious:



While we really liked Sjávargrillið, it started a little odd, with them serving the butter on a lava rock.  This was unusual, and not all that practical (the butter had a tendency to tip itself off onto the table).



Despite the odd start, our dinner at Sjávargrillið was fantastic.  We both opted for the catch of the day, which was perch served up with a nice sauce and some barley. 



And we finished with warm chocolate cake (which was on *every* menu in Reykjavik, it must be the trend) with walnut, raspberry, yogurt, and rhubarb (and little bits of what appeared to be free-dried strawberry as well):


kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/12 08:28:57 (permalink)
Our last full day in Iceland was mostly spent tooling around Reykjavik.  In the morning, we spent most of our time in Reykjavik's heated pool, Laugardalslaug, which was nice (but wasn't conducive to cameras...)

Afterward, we wandered around downtown again.  One place we really wanted to check out was Noodle Station.  Located on Skolavordustigur just down from Hallgrimskirkja, we couldn't miss Noodle Station on our first day in Reykjavik; they were prepping for the day, and the entire place smelled of star anise and wonderful soup broth.  But that first day, we were never in that part of town when they were open.

But this time we came back.



Noodle Station is basically a counter and some stools.  The menu is rock simple: it's basically soup, with the choice of chicken or beef, and whatever you want on top (garlic, onions, hot peppers, peanuts, etc).  We both opted for beef.



This was a delicious broth and some good rice noodles.   The broth was rich and aromatic.  The noodles tender.  The beef flavorful.

This was a seriously good bowl of soup, and a nice change of pace from the rest of our Icelandic treats.


SeamusD
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/12 13:28:15 (permalink)
I just had soup for lunch and now I'm disappointed in it after seeing that bowl! Have to find or make something like that this weekend.
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/19 21:21:26 (permalink)
And our last food stop was Rub 23.  Rub 23 has been one of the trendier places in Iceland in recent years (it's actually a pair of places, the original is in Akureyri), but despite its trendiness, it's actually pretty easy to get into on a Saturday night if you are flexible with a reservation.

 Rub 23 is basically an Asian Fusion place that pairs Icelandic ingredients with Asian ingredients (the name comes from several specialty rubs, their schtick is that you can pick your own combination of meat and rub).

We, however, did the tasting menu.

First up, the appetizers:  10 spice popcorn (which was stunningly spicy) and pickles:



Course #2 was a combination of tempura arctic char, as well as a "sushi pizza".

The char was really, really good. After this trip to Iceland, I'm almost addicted to char.

I'm usually skeptical about things on sushi menus with Mexican or Italian names (I've suffered from several "Nacho rolls", for example), but this actually worked pretty well:



The next item was a sushi sampler including a spicy tuna roll, hot and sweet roll, flounder sashimi, and tuna and arctic char nigiri:



The next course was Icelandic Cod and a Langoustine tail.

The cod was phenomenal.  Perfectly cooked, tender, and flaky, with a nice rub of rosemary and thyme; I was enjoying it so much I forgot to take a picture of that half of the plate.

The langoustine tail was also really good; the quality was overall about the same as in Hofn, but here they had a really pleasant rub on it and was served with a sauce that was really similar to a Mexican salsa.



The main course: lamb with an Indian rub.  Perfectly tender and flavorful, this combined already-excellent Icelandic lamb with a pleasant spice rub rich in cardamom.


kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/19 21:21:42 (permalink)
And the next day, it was back to Keflavik to the airport.  The duty free store was notable since (a) liquor was actually cheaper there (a lot cheaper), and (b) they had these cool "Learn to Speak Icelandic" kits:



Our airplane, however, was very ominously named.  Who names an airplane after a volcano that disrupted millions of air travelers?


kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/19 21:22:00 (permalink)
That's pretty much the whole story. 

Some random comments I'll make in case other people are planning on visiting Iceland:

1. It is a bit expensive, I won't kid you.  But there are occasionally some really good deals.  A lot of people we met up with were traveling with a different booking service than our, farmholidays.is, that seemed to put people up in slightly more interesting places than most of the ones we stayed at, and for slightly less money.

2. Gas, in particular, was very expensive.  If you do like we do and take a small 4x4 SUV around the island?  Expect to spend almost $1k on diesel.  Ouch.

3. The food is phenomenal.  What little international reputation Iceland food has is bad, and that's completely unfair, since the lamb and seafood in particular were some of the best I've ever had.

4. It's only 4.5 hours from Boston.  It's amazing how different it is for being that close.
 
Any questions?
mr chips
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/20 00:55:44 (permalink)
Magnifcent report.Hope someday to go there. Thanks for your postings.
FriedClamFanatic
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/21 19:52:52 (permalink)
My only sadnes is that's it's over.  But my desire has been inspired!
 
Thanks again for the most phenomenal presentation, perhaps ever, on here
slaveforpizzaandsushi
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/22 14:32:03 (permalink)
what a treat to read this today. Thank you for sharing with us.
Ivyhouse
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/22 17:28:02 (permalink)
I agree very much with all of the praise -- this is a great report.
 
A couple of friends went on a 3 day trip to Iceland last year and tried to convince me to go with them.  It didn't seem interesting enough, and when I saw their pictures when they got back I thought I had judged correctly (lots of moss and rocks).
 
However, I have forwarded this trip report to them and now we are inspired to repeat at least some of this adventure.  We'll see how successful we are in coordinating 3 calendars!
 
Thanks again -- very beautiful.  The basalt and the black rock beach are breathtaking.
post edited by Ivyhouse - 2012/11/05 13:52:48
kaszeta
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/23 21:41:52 (permalink)
Good luck.  It is a beautiful country, and, sadly, the area around the Keflavik airport doesn't sell the country well (it is indeed moss and rocks...)
Extreme Glow
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/24 09:11:14 (permalink)
Really enjoyed the trip report.
 
Regarding the duty free shops and the price of alcohol; Icelanders will take a round trip flight to Greenland just to get into the duty free shop and stock up.  It's cheaper.  At least that's what they were doing back on 2003.  Similar to Brits taking the Channel ferry to France for the day to stock up.
Ralph Melton
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/10/26 17:02:07 (permalink)
This was a splendid report.
Shara
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/11/05 12:51:53 (permalink)
What an amazing report, really well written and entertaining! It is stunning to think there's a world so utterly different from the one I inhabit and yet so close. Your photos are just wonderful. Thanks for sharing it. 
Hepcat
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Re:Driving my way around Iceland 2012/11/05 13:45:13 (permalink)
KaszetaJust got back from a 12 day trip to Iceland.

 
Great trip report! I've often wondered about Iceland as well.
 

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