Iceland Up Close: MTV Chills Out In Reykjavík With A Stopover Buddy
Icelandair's new stopover service is AWESOME.
TRAVELLING. It’s good, isn’t it?
Literally very enjoyable. Only a crazy person would disagree with the notion that going from A to B (with A being your boring house and B usually being somewhere exotic or fancy-looking or maybe both, who knows) is fun, and at MTV we like going to places and having a bit of a poke around and generally having a nice time if we can.
But even though the internet is like, amazing and you can wander into a new country knowing absolutely zero about everything and STILL figure it out yourself, sometimes travelling blind can be a bit of a disaster. Especially in a country like Iceland, where they have thirty-six letters in their alphabet and some of them look familiar, but don’t sound anything like you’d expect them to.
In short: the potential for things to go wrong and you to look like a right muppet is DANGEROUSLY HIGH.
So what can you do? Well before you book your next holiday closer to home, somewhere safe and familiar like Stevenage or Hull, shut up and listen. We were invited to Iceland by Icelandair on a very important mission: to go and have a very nice time and take advantage of their new service that lets you hang out with local experts who will take you by the hand and show you the best things to do, drink, scoff and dance in the vicinity of. Easy.
So that’s what we did. By harnessing the sheer power of the buddy service, we were able to take in loads of ridiculous and amazing things to do in a short space of time and we can proudly present a guide to Reykjavík that will make you say: “cancel the trip to Stevenage, we’re going to Reykjavík”. Possibly.
DRINK THIS: ICELANDIC WHITE ALE
Yeah so basically, Iceland are killing it with the craft beer thing at the moment. And while we drink loads of IPAs and pale ales and other things in England, white ales are predominantly brewed around Belgium and the Netherlands.
Everywhere we went you could get Einstok, and it is something you should drink because it tastes nice and has an extremely dude-y Viking on the bottle.
You might be thinking: what is the science behind how the beer has a sort of white, hazy quality to it? Unfortunately we have no idea but we can say with confidence it is delicious and refreshing and quite crisp, and very nice. Also when you raise a toast, stop saying ‘Cheers’ and triumphantly roar “SKÄL!” instead.
DO THIS: SEE SOME COOL BANDS AT AIRWAVES
Our buddys took us down to Airwaves, the annual music festival that sees the entire city engulfed in amazing, eccentric Icelandic music. While there were a few non-Icelandic acts playing (Dizzee Rascal, Kano, Santigold) there were even more ridiculous local bands that we got to watch. Here are some of our faves:
• Vök - Dreamy electro-pop tunes
• Kiasmos - Really euphoric dance music set to a weird light show
• Auður - Minimalist Justin Timberlakey heartache from a platinum-quiffed troubadour
• FM Belfast - Sassy and ridiculous bleepy carnival music.
• Gaika - Moody, atmospheric R&B (this guy is actually from Brixton but was extremely good, so there you go)
That’s not to mention Of Monsters & Men, who in addition to their slot on Friday performed a secret gig in a cathedral, which combined all the euphoria of folk-pop with all the enjoyment and comfort of sitting in a pew. Amazing.
Oh also we saw demure pop elf Bjork do a gig in a concert hall which was quite something.
RELAX IN THIS: SECRET LAGOON HOT SPRINGS
Okay so Iceland is legit amazing, because listen: the country runs almost entirely on renewable energy, because of the volcanoes and natural heat that comes through the earth. That means one of the most enjoyable things you can do is dunk yourself in one of their many hot springs, which are heated by the Earth. It is ridiculous.
A lot of people go to Blue Lagoon - you’ve seen your mates frolicking in that one on Instagram, haven’t you. Well skip that one and try the Secret Lagoon, near the small village of Fludir. It’s where the locals hang out, and on a cold day the heat from the springs causes so much steam to rise from the water you can barely see in front of you. To call it relaxing is an understatement: it is the most relaxed I have been in my entire life. Even more relaxed than when I was a baby. Think about how relaxing that must be.
EAT THIS: TOMATOES
There’s some amazing restaurants in the city center, but if you’re exploring try and visit Friðheimar, a vegetable farm-turned-restaurant just outside Reykholt. They specialise in tomatoes - loads of tomatoes, tbh - and recently opened up their greenhouse to serve the produce they make to customers.
The tomato soup, with freshly baked bread to dunk in it, is a thing of beauty. And the whole operation is done with zero pesticides, so it's pretty great for the planet. Who knew tomatoes could be so amazing?
MAYBE DON’T EAT THIS: FERMENTED SHARK
See those cubes of, well, they look a bit like the bastard child of fudge and parmesan, don’t they, well this is fermented shark, a “local delicacy” that is categorically the worst smelling thing in the world. The buddies swore by it, but after the smell made my face nearly collapse in on itself like a dilapidated building, I had to run off and seek refuge elsewhere. DO NOT SMELL THIS STUFF IF YOU HAVE A HANGOVER.
EXPLORE THIS: THE WHOLE PLACE IS FLIPPING GORG
See this kinda prehistoric looking scene of natural beauty, where nature is sort of beating itself up and it all looks a bit apocalyptic? Yeah we saw this on the way to the airport. THE AIRPORT.
In short, the views in Iceland are amazing, so if you like that kind of exploring it doesn’t take much for a buddy to whisk you around the back roads and show you the unfiltered awesomeness of the country. You can almost imagine a pterodactyl swooping around here, can’t you. FYI there were zero dinosaurs, but still.
Written By: Chris Mandle
MTV Travelled With... Thanks to Icelandair for sending us out to Reykjavík. For more information on the Celebration Stopover Buddy Service, and to book a buddy to hang out with, visit http://www.icelandair.co.uk/stopover-buddy/.