“It can’t rain all the time,” Eric Draven famously said. However, in a town with weather like Reykjavík, it can definitely feel like it does. Listen—we all have bad days, so take a page out of the Grapevine’s book and fight away those blues at our favourite local places.
Andie Sophia Fontaine
I feel best when I’m not reminded that I live next to the sea, aka the world’s toilet. So to cheer myself up here in Reykjavík, I like to walk up to Öskjuhlíð, the forested area that surrounds Perlan, and just kinda wander around. Going off the marked trails and into the denser part of the woods is especially relaxing. Half an hour in this setting and I feel a great deal better. If it happens to be raining out, though, then I like to go to Borgarbókasafnið, the library on Tryggvagata. Pick up literally any book, or a stack of manga, then head up to one of the top floors and sit by a window in the “study area” to read in peace. It’s quite lovely.
The best cure for a sad day is some confidence, sun and a little bit of fight-or-flight induced dopamine. I’d start my day at the aptly-named Adrenalíngarðurinn with a group of friends for some bonding. The little ropes course an hour away from the city gets the blood pumping with a series of climbs and jumps that can’t help but induce smiles. Afterwards, it’s a vegan mukbang at KFC whose vegan chicken is, like… scarily real. Then, it’s a hop over to Vínstúkan Tíu sopar for some natural wine, which I’ve convinced myself is healthy since it has “natural” right in its name. Voilá. (Then I go home and binge-watch ‘True Blood’.)
Whenever I’m feeling down, I remind myself that I’m probably just missing out on Vitamin D, “the happy hormone.” The best thing one can then do, is to rush to Nauthólsvík. Reykjavík’s geothermal golden beach—with just the right amount of imagination, you’ll feel you’ve been transported to the Mediterranean. Never forget sunscreen; sunburns are surprisingly easy to obtain on this cold rock. If the dopamine levels are not high enough yet, I highly recommend going to Elliðaárdalur and watching all the adorable, wild bunnies roaming around, munching on some treats. Speaking of treats: A good way to end a day is at Ísbúð Vesturbæjar. Mix in your favourite candy and you’ll be happy as a clam again.
If I ever start feeling down or homesick, a full-on recovery day commences to fight back the blues. There’s little that I love more than being outdoors and moving my body, so seeking out a good hike is my ultimate remedy to any hint of sadness; a recent favorite of mine is Glymur, followed by its leg numbing river crossing halfway through the roundtrip venture. Anyone with a hint of sanity would grab food afterward––the core of any good hiking trip. Once I’m hangry and hiked-out, I fuel back up with Dragon Dim Sum and their heavenly, plumptious dumplings filled with flavors that will send you straight to Valhalla. If dim sum isn’t enough to drag me out of a rut, I love to toss in a climbing session at Klifurhúsið––a sure-fire way to pull any active guy or gal from any depths of despair.
As a family man and therefore no longer an individual, but some kind of slave of entertainment for my children, the best way to spend the day is to get in the car and head south over Hellisheiði. First we would visit the wonderful old school swimming pool in Hveragerði. It’s beautiful architecture and the view over the town is nothing less than sublime. Afterwards we would drive all the way to the small petting zoo in Slakki, not that far from Geysir and Gullfoss. There we would pet some silly little kittens and visit the feisty parrots. This would be followed by a round of minigolf. On our way back, we would head to Selfoss to visit Mathöll Suðurlands and grab a bite at one of the many places you can find there. If the kids are not already asleep in the car before you get to Hveragerði, we would take a left turn before we go up to Hellisheiðin, and drive Kambar back (the south road to Þorlákshöfn) and pretend that we are on a another planet while navigating the narrow pass back to Reykjavík.
The birdlife around Reykjavík’s lakes and ponds offers the world-weary a natural source of therapy, free of charge. At Tjörnin—a.k.a. “Honky Pond” due to its noisy avian residents—one can enjoy the company of greylag geese, whooper swans, mallards and sometimes even eider ducks. Take some seeds or sweetcorn niblets to feed them, but not bread as that’s not good for them. The experience is sure to ground you and soothe your soul, (assuming you have one). Be careful of those goose turds on the surrounding paths, though. They can reach a considerable size—greylag geese can get through one hell of a lot of seeds and sweetcorn niblets—and slipping on one might shatter that new-found peace of yours.
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