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    • CommentAuthorCraig Shaw
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.1)
    I'm off to Iceland over part of the Christmas break, specifically Reykjavik, and as I recall Engine and WEF inhabitants had kind words to say about the place. I thought I'd put the request out there for any information or recommendations.

    Places to eat, not to eat, comic shops, music shops, good museums (though I already know about the penis museum), cultural norms I should know about, hand gestures to avoid etc.

    Mainly I'm looking for ideas and tricks that aren't going to be covered in the normal, Lonely Planet stlye guide-books everyone has bought me for Christmas!

    Thanks in advance!
  1.  (336.2)
    Eat at the Hotel Holt restaurant.

    Do NOT drink Viking Beer. Do NOT drink Brennivin. Do NOT eat hakarl.

    There's one comics shop in Reykjavik, I believe, the excellent Nexus-VI. Say hello to Petur and Gisli for me.

    I seem to remember two or three record stores on Laugavegur -- I think the big one, Skifan, was the better one (the other one seemed not to open regularly, but I'm going back a few years now).
    • CommentAuthorAngurvaki
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.3)
    Icelander here!
    You should be able to get at least half a day out of Laugavegur in Reykjavik, be sure to visit the artist design stores there ( Ósóma, Nonnabúð/Dead and Nakti Apinn), and Nexus (They dropped the IV a few years back) is close to the top.

    Viking beer is alright, better than the Egils dregg any day. Brennivín is awesome, but I agree with hakarl (Shark).

    I live up north, so I'm not up to date with the good eateries down there, but wherever you go, make sure to get the seasonal Hangikjöt and laufabrauð.

    "Ha" is equivalent to the much used eh?
    When someone messes up, trips, etc, say "Kemur"
    Don't make eye contact with the drunken ones, unless it's an attractive female.

    There are some good museums and galleries at the center of the town (Laugarvegur) and around, the big ones being Listasafn Íslands and Kjarvalsstaðir.

    If you're really going all the way to Húsavík to see the phallological museum, stop by the Listagil in Akureyri for a cup of coffee.
  2.  (336.4)
    Viking Beer is pisswater. Seriously, it gives beer a bad name. I'd rather drink a generic Norwegian draft like Ringnes than Viking. Terrible stuff.

    And I would remind everyone that the poisonous Brennivin is also known as The Black Death.
    •  
      CommentAuthorhmobius
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.5)
    Isn''t Brennivin so called because when the icelandic authorities actually allowed commercial alcoholic production they came up with this so gave it a 'bad name' rather than ban it again? I seem to recall something like that in the duty free at Keflavik.

    @Craig. I know it's a bit cheesy, but go for a swim in the Blue Lagoon. Perhaps on Xmas day at sunset. Like swimming on Mars is probably like. (but with a breathable atmosphere). Or if you've got the cash it might be the season for the Northern Lights if that's your thing. OK, they are in the guidebooks, but...
    • CommentAuthorAngurvaki
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.6)
    @hmobius:

    Black Death is a nickname, but you're partially right. They gave it a big black bad looking label to scare people away from it.
    It was marketed as a brand name in the 90's though, sold with in a black coffin adorned by a top hat wearing skull, but that disappeared from the market in a few years, plus it was not from the same manufacturer as the classic icelandic Brennivín.
  3.  (336.7)
    They gave it a big black bad looking label to scare people away from it.

    While, of course, selling it cheap.
    • CommentAuthorAngurvaki
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.8)
    Hey, since there's money to be made from people getting drunk, why shouldn't the government cash in on that instead some private party.
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      CommentAuthorExploder
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.9)
    Not totally sure about this, but: Isn't Iceland the location of a trio of giant stone swords (they're not ancient or anything, just giant and stone and swords)? I'm remembering this from Metal: A Headbanger's Journey, but it seemed like a nice place to take a picture. They're on an outcropping overlooking the ocean. That's what I'm remembering somewhat vaguely, anyway...

    Being a huge nerd, I would probably try and see those. You, perhaps, are not quite as inclined toward ridiculous photo opportunities as I am.
    •  
      CommentAuthorhmobius
    • CommentTimeDec 18th 2007
     (336.10)
    It was marketed as a brand name in the 90's though

    In that same kind of way Death Cigarettes are a brand name. It's not a deterrent - more of a challenge
    • CommentAuthorCraig Shaw
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2007
     (336.11)
    Many thanks to everyone. I think I'll have to now try Viking Beer, just to see, but I consider myself warned!

    @Angurvaki: is there anything I need to know about driving, as it's the only part of foreign travel that ever concerns me in advance? We're having a car just to get out the city for a day or two; are Icelanders cool and calm road users?
    • CommentAuthorredcrow
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2007
     (336.12)
    If you want booze in Iceland, make sure and buy it in Keflavik airport on your way in. You'll get a cheaper price than in the country at large, and if you gift some bottles to the natives you will make fast friends.

    Definitely check out Nexus; its a great little shop. If you're in Reykjavik on Friday or Saturday night, you can go around downtown and sample a lot of great bars all night long, but make sure you drop in at Sirkus. As for CD shops, my favorite is 12 Tonar on Skolavordustig. They'll give you a nice cup of espresso, and you can lounge on the couch and sample the cds. Get something from the current Icelandic bands, since most of them are unavailable outside the country. Jakobinarina is a good pick, Olaf Arnalds too if you lean towards acoustic. Sigur Ros and Bjork can be found everywhere, so save your kroner for the rarer stuff.

    I highly recommend a trip to the Blue Lagoon on your way back to the airport at the end of the trip. Make some time to do this, and you won't regret it. Even if it's a frozen windy wasteland kind of day, the waters and the sauna will be great.

    I've got some photos from my last trip here.
    • CommentAuthorAngurvaki
    • CommentTimeDec 19th 2007
     (336.13)
    It's the roads not the icelanders that cause the problems. Narrow and curvy.
    It gets dark very early, and although there isn't much frost in the roads, it tends to sneak up behind you.
    And the cops are out to get you if you break the speed limit.
    • CommentAuthorredcrow
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2008
     (336.14)
    The best bar in Reykjavik is closing.This place has been ground zero for a lot of creative thinking and drinking for me and many of my co-workers. I'll miss it. If you're in Reykjavik between now and February, stop by Sirkus and raise one for me. It can look like shit, and sometimes smells like piss, but thats all part of its charm.
    •  
      CommentAuthorNygaard
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2008
     (336.15)
    @Exploder - the three swords are a 1983 memorial of the last battle in the unification of Norway. They're at the innermost point of Hafrsfjord on the west coast of Norway. Three kings fought a naval battle in the fjord in 872, and the swords represent them. For pictures, google "sverd i fjell".

    They're stuck in the rock to symbolize unity and peace - "they will never be drawn again" kind of thing. I guess the artist meant to add "Except for in all those little vendetta wars, civil wars, religious wars, wars of succession and colonial wars fought during the 500 years after the battle of Hafrsfjord", but never got round to it.


    @Redcrow - damn. Always sad to see a good place go. Smoking law and drinking regulations strangled several good ones here, so I know the feeling. On the upside, the "grave beer" for a good bar tends to be memorable. :)
    •  
      CommentAuthorphil.lunt
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2008
     (336.16)
    Sorry for resurrecting this but I'm off to Iceland next week to teach 3ds Max to some guys, fairly certain it's in Reykjavik... Anyway, i'm gonna be working 8.30am till 4pm everyday and was just wondering what time the music/comic shops closed coz all work and no play make Jack a dull boy etc... I'd like to sample the beers but lots of concentration will be required during working hours :(
    • CommentAuthorredcrow
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2008
     (336.17)
    I think the comics shop, Nexus, closes around 5:30 on weekdays. Most of the music shops are the same, though I think Skifan on Laugavegur is open later. My favorite cd shop is 12 Tonar; check it out if you get a chance. CDs (and hell, everything else) are expensive, but try and stock up on some Icelandic bands. There are some good ones you can't find outside of Iceland. The Kitchen Motors Family Album is a good sampler of recent stuff.

    I wish I could point you to Sirkus, the best little bar in Reykjavik, but it closed for good a few weeks ago. Sigh.

    Definitely get one "all the way" at Baejarins Bestu. Best hot dogs in the world, and they're open real late on Fri-Sat (as is everything else). The perfect thing when dragging yourself home after a late night.
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      CommentAuthorphil.lunt
    • CommentTimeApr 8th 2008
     (336.18)
    ta for that, redcrow! Hopefully I can get away from work on time each night to do some browsing!! :)

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