It’s the fifth week in a row that my flatmate Tom and I bail on our adventurous hiking plans. Every weekend it’s the same story: on Thursday, we’ll sit comfortably on our 1940s red and green couches, planning all sorts of activities for the weekend. Then, come Saturday morning, we bail. This time, it’s because I’ve taken an extra shift at the café where I work, and when I get back to the apartment Tom is still recovering from his Friday night out.
Before we become pathetic beyond the point of no return, however, we decide to lay out a more modest plan that will take us on a bike ride along the coastline of our lovely neighbourhood on the west side of Reykjavík.
First stop: Eurasia
As we’ll need sustenance for the road, we decide to begin our trip with a quick stop in Georgia, to make some Badrijani Nigvzit. These aubergine-based rolls hide a soft paste of walnuts, garlic, coriander and fenugreek within their meaty folds. Served with a lettuce and fennel salad, the rolls neither look nor taste as they are supposed to, but they satisfy our palates as we wash them down with a glass of white wine.
It’s already 10 PM when Tom and I hop on our bikes and head down to the bay. The sun is out and even though the wind gets stronger along the coast, it’s still a pleasure to feel the fresh air on my face as I glance down to the ocean. We bike up and down the small hills along the shore of Seltjarnarnes, racing each other on the smooth concrete paths that run parallel to the mountains of rocks which separate us from the waves. As we move away from the city the sky becomes vaster, until we finally spot what we’ve been looking for: the white lighthouse of Grótta.
Second Stop: Grótta
Grótta is now a popular spot for sunset photoshoots and, in the winter, Northern Lights spotting, but until three or four years ago it was still everybody’s favourite place to get sultry in the backseat of a car. Icelanders hang around enjoying the silence, punctuated only by the occasional screech of an Arctic tern.
As we circle the peninsula we bike around one of my favourite spots to do some house watching. Beautiful Scandinavian-style mansions sit just metres away from the water, their curtain-free windows revealing the most absurd living rooms—some come complete with taxidermied bears, others more modest, with delicate décor. My dream house stands right on the shore, its white walls standing under a mossy roof, like a turf-roofed house.
Third stop: Ægisíða
Finally, we find my favourite spot on our way to the local Reykjavík airport. We dismount our bikes and climb down the rocks. They’re perfectly square, as if chopped into pieces with a ruler. The tide is high, and there’s barely enough space to sit on the beach. We opt for a flat rock that’s slightly under street level. Hidden behind the grass with the sun in our eyes we quickly forget we’re in Reykjavík.
The salty air fills our nostrils, while the waves sing a rhythmical song that muffles any sound coming from the street. We sit in silence for at least an hour, our eyes only half open. There’s no need to speak, and as the sun slowly bends down to kiss the sea we can barely believe how lucky we are to live just a bike ride away from paradise.
Distance from Reykjavík: 0 km
How to get there: Ride up the coastal path to Grótta