Introduction to Reykjavik
On your way to any of the Scandinavian countries, you might want to make a stop in Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland. Iceland is pretty far north, but - unlike what its name might indicate - it actually has a lot of green spots. When you think of hip European capital cities, you may think first of Rome or Paris, but more and more people these days are naming Reykjavik.
The city is clean, modern, and seems to have missed out on the problems that other urban areas have with poverty and homelessness. It's easy to walk here.
There are many museums highlighting all the elements of Icelandic life and culture. People think of coming here in summer, but lots of attractions are open and special events are held throughout the other four seasons, too.
Daytime with its clear air and blue skies is a refreshing experience. This is highlighted when you take advantage of one of the seven natural thermal pools run by Reykjavik city. Food and entertainment in this town can be expensive, but for a very low price of a few dollars you can soak with the natives in a hot pool of naturally warm water. Some of the spots are composed of several hot tubs that are graded in terms of how hot they get. Some are near beaches, where you (or at least the natives) can jump into the cold sea and then into the hot water. There are also changing facilities, towel rentals, and sometimes steam rooms.
At night things get hopping in Reykjavik. It's not a cheap city for this kind of thing, but you'll want to experience some of the night life. You can stop and have a drink in a little pub or you can head out to one of the many clubs.
At Kaffi Reykjavik you'll find the Ice Bar you may have heard of already. The bar, tables, chairs, and accessories are all carved in ice, which lasts because the temperature inside is kept under the freezing point. For $25 you'll be issued a parka and gloves so that you can have your cocktail without shivering too much.
This is a city that you'd never have considered trendy a few years ago, but now it's a must-see, especially if you've been to Europe before and think you've seen it all.
Photo by Stuck in Customs on flickr