Travels

When the snout leads the truffle pig to far away lands

A Guide to Reykjavik, Iceland …

A Guide to Reykjavik, Iceland …
Guide to reykjavik

Views of Reykjavik

visiting iceland

Shopping for warmth

Long before I visited Reykjavik I was so intrigued about what this tiny island capital would have in store. It didn’t fail to disappoint my high expectation. The city looks like a small village but has a big city attitude with modern dining, an awesome bar scene and more art and culture than you can poke a herring at. Here is my guide of what to do to do and where to do.

Top tips for  reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja church

Icelandic street style. Image courtesy of Pinterest

Icelandic street style. Image courtesy of Pinterest

What to do:

  • Swim: Icelanders take their swimming VERY seriously, so a pool visit is a must. The Grafarvogslaug pool has 5 pools ranging in temperatures and a steam bath. So head there, de-robe and get wet.
  • Explore: The city is small but it is full of surprises. Take some time to wind in and out of the streets to admire the colourful buildings, street art and great shopping on Laugavegur, the old fishing wharfs down by the bay and the pond next to city hall.
  • Listen to music: Icelanders are avid artists and everyone is a slashie. Teacher/snow plougher/drummer or Model/Chef/Singer, and as a result, the music is mind blowing. I was lucky enough to visit while Iceland Airwaves was on which is the best way to enjoy up and coming artists performing in random locations across the city including book shops, art galleries, the blue lagoon sidewalks and Harpa, the stunning concert hall by the harbour.
  • People watch: Iceland boasts some of the most beautiful people in the world – the girls look like super models and the men looks like hipster lumberjacks. They all have an incredible sense of individual style, making it ideal to sit, stare and marvel at their coolness.
  • Enjoy the view: Hallgrímskirkja church is the main landmark in the city and can be seen in almost anywhere in the city. Climb to the top and enjoy sweeping views across the city, harbour and across the mountains.

best things to do in iceland

hamborgarabulla-tomasar

Inside Hamborgarabullan’s beautiful restaurant by the harbour, home to the best burgers in the city

k bar food

Soft shell crab sandwich from K-bar

Where to eat:

  • Kex Hostel: is home to some of the best food in town and it won’t break the bank. You can enjoy beautiful Icelandic seafood, burgers and bar snacks like the braised reindeer shank in crispy batter with herb cream.
  • Grillið: is located on the top floor of the Radisson hotel overlooking the whole city of Reykjavik. So while you’re enjoying the stunning views you and feast on some of the best fine Icelandic dining in the city.
  • The Laundromat Café: is super cute, super cosy and super central. It has big beautiful windows perfect for people watching. and is a great option any time of day, from breakfast through to dinner.
  • Stofan Café: Icelanders are obsessed with coffee and have some of the highest consumption in the world. Café Stofan is an ideal place to get a strong coffee and get comfortable on some of the many vintage couches if the weather is woolly outside.
  • Hamborgarabullan: This is Iceland’s answer to a good old fashion diner with crisp fries, juicy burgers and heart stopping shakes on the menu. There harbour side restaurant is a must visit at night, as it is a tiny little building lit up by hundreds of fairy lights.
  • K-bar: perhaps my favourite place in the city, maybe because I dined next to BJORK! What a way to top off the ultimate Icelandic experience. K-pop serves up Korean fusion treats including fried chicken, Korean seafood Bouillabaisse and kimchi sliders.
There I am, exploring the streets of Downtown Reykjavik

There I am, exploring the streets of Downtown Reykjavik

Street art reykjavik

Reykjavik Street Art

 

amazing things to see in iceland

Gullfoss waterfall

 

Where to drink

  • Slippbarinn: the bar is located right on the harbour so you can enjoy beautiful views sometimes even of the northern lights if you’re lucky. The bar is one the newest in town and they serve spectacular cocktails.
  • Snaps: the walls are plastered with newsletter and plenty of hanging pot plates throughout giving this funky bar a homely atmosphere. This lovely little low key bistro is the perfect place to start the night by enjoying some local beers like Borg and some killer cocktails like the Snaps Margarita.
  • Kaffibarinn: you will often see a line to get in here as crowds flock here to enjoy the live music and thumping dance floor. Icelanders LOVE to drink and party, and there is no better place to live like a local than here.
  • Prikid: This place is home to one of the best coffees in Iceland, but by nice the caffeine is replaced by booze and the tables are pushed to the side to create room for all the thirsty locals and tourists.
Blue lagoon

The Blue Lagoon

 

Guide to reykjavik  glacier

Getting lost in the ice

Day trips:

The benefit of Reykjavik being so small is that getting out and in is a breeze. If you’re not planning on traveling around the country I definitely recommend a few day trips to see some of the incredible landscape.

  • Snorkelling or Scuba Dive: Yep, you read that right, snorkelling. Take a deep dive in a dry suit between the two tectonic plates of America and Europe and admire the endless depths of incredibly fresh (and freezing) water. Scuba Iceland are the best company to do this through, and try and see if you can go with Nina or Wouter as your guides, they were incredibly friendly and fun.
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon: Hire a car, grab a GPS and drive towards Iceland’s largest glacier lagoon. On the drive you will pass snow-capped mountains, beautiful little towns, incredible waterfalls and endless lava fields.
  • The golden triangle: This is a well-travelled trifecta of sights to be been that requires some more driving. If you follow the trail you will visit Geysir where hot spring water shoots 25m into the air, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall and the Þingvellir national park where the tectonic plates are slowly being pulled apart right in front of your eyes.
  • The Blue Lagoon: Mineral-rich hot water from far beneath the earth forms this spectacular, super warm lagoon. You can float all day while soaking up the view of the rugged lava landscape.
Guide to reykjavik road trip

Road tripping through the lava fields

Planning a trip to iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

 

Where to stay:

  • Hotel Borg: A beautifully restored historical building in the centre of town. The rooms are sophisticated, the beds are comfortable and the location couldn’t be better.
  • Kex Hostel: Don’t let the title fool you, Kex is just as good as many of the hotels I have stayed in if not better. Home to live music, a great bar and restaurant and some of the coolest, quirkiest interiors I have ever seen. You can get private or dorm rooms, all at a ridiculously cheap price (for Iceland) and all with amazing views across the water to snow-capped mountains.

best things to do to rejkjavic

Tips:

  • Grapevine Reykjavik is an awesome online and print magazine that is a wealth of knowledge of the latest updates on new restaurants, gigs and galleries.
  • I Heart Reykjavik is another great source of info, you gotta love a blogger!
  • Iceland is expensive, buy booze duty free on our way in
  • The name ICE-land says is all – pack warm clothes that can handle some rain and snow and some good walking shoes
  • Read Burial Rites by Hannah and Tales of Iceland by Stephan Markley before you go as well as my interesting facts about Iceland post.
  • Travel during the Northern lights seasons between October and March, they are truly amazing.

How to get there:
Iceland Air has many direct flights from capital cities across Northern America and Europe.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Guide to reykjavik 1

Until next time….

 

Posts cards from: Havana, Cuba …

Posts cards from: Havana, Cuba …

I recently returned from my Central American trip and my last (but certainly not least) destination was Cuba. Lots of people have asked me about what I thought of the country that is so well known for all the wrong reasons – the best word I can find in my limited vocabulary to describe it is fascinating. Despite having next to nothing and being ruled by one fierce leader after the next, the people I met were incredibly hospitable, happy, generous, creative and optimistic. Havana, the decaying but incredibly beautiful capital, was a feast for the eyes with gorgeous colourful buildings and people everywhere. Here are a few of my favourite photos…

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Top 10 Best things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize

Top 10 Best things to do in Caye Caulker, Belize

I recently returned from a trip to Caye Caulker in Belize and it is safe to say that I absolutely loved it. It was paradise. So, if you find yourself in that idyllic part of the world then follow my guide below and you will be guaranteed to have a good time.

  1. Go Slow. That is the motto on Caye Caulker and you will see it plastered everywhere. This little island is located far, far away from anywhere and the perfect place to just relax and go slow.
  2. Strap on a snorkel or tank. Belize boasts some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world. You can touch a shark, swim with a school of fish and admire endless coral through the crystal clear water.
  3. Drinks at the lazy lizard. Google Caye Caulker and you will see a million photos of the Lazy Lizard, it was enough to make me book a ticket and it didn’t disappoint. Yes, it is full of tourists, but what is better than dangling your feet in water, listening to music, being surrounded by happy party people while downing some pina coladas? Nothing!
  4. Eat a Fry Jack. A Fry Jack is the traditional breakfast dish and it is a fried tortilla stuffed with your choice of fillings and hot sauce if you’re brave enough.  The best place to do this is Errolyn’s House and the best combo is pulled chicken, cheese, beans and eggs. One of these suckers will only set you back a couple of bucks.
  5. Go to the movies.  The ‘Bondi Bar’ has a lovely little outdoor movie screen under the stars where you can sit back on a sun chair and enjoy copious amounts of popcorn and local beer.
  6. Eat lobster. Lobsters are as cheap as chips here and are served straight from the sea to your plate. The best places to enjoy a lobster is at Terry’s Grill and Fran’s Grill, both located on front street and cooked on a street-side coal BBQ.
  7. Fly over the blue hole. After many discussions with many divers, the consensus was diving in the blue hole (Belize’s most famous attraction) is not amazing, because it just looks like a lot of dark water when you’re there. So the best way to experience it is from the sky, which is actually cheaper than diving. The joy flight run by Tsunami Adventures and they takes you over not just the blue hole but give you a your of ship wrecks, private islands and coral as far as the eye can see. Plus the pilot is a legend!
  8. Beers at sunset. There is a jetty not too far away from Terry’s Grill, at the end of Hattie Street near the spit – it is quiet, peaceful and the best place to set up shop with a few Belikins (local beers) and watch the stunning sun set over the water.
  9. Talk to the locals. The beauty about this island is that it is so small that tourists and locals blend seamlessly. They are all friendly, relaxed and always blasting Bob Marley.
  10. Get on a bike. The island is flat and relatively small, perfect for cruising around on a cruiser. It is a great way to get your bearings of where everything is, including Chinatown (yes, there is even a Chinatown!).

How to get there:
If you’re visiting from Mexico, it is a 4 hour boat ride from Chatamal – get there an hour early as you will have to come from customs. There is also regular ferries from Belize City and access by plane but that will cost you a pretty penny.

Where to stay:
All accommodation is pretty basic. If you are going in the warmer months, definitely book somewhere with aircon. We stayed at the Stoned Crab Cabana, which is a basic, self-contained little hut in a great location.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review: The Standard Hotel, New York

Review: The Standard Hotel, New York

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The hotel has become an icon itself thanks to its patchwork of glass towering into the sky enabling you to view inside peoples rooms and vice versa. And as I mentioned, it is positioned above the beloved high line and more than an arm’s distance from any other buildings (very rare for NYC). Views in every direction, no matter what floor you are on, a bonus because there is nothing worse than forking out a few hundred for a nice hotel to look onto a barron parking lot or a brick wall.

The Hotel is home to the uber exclusive club the Boom Boom Room, the popular German style beer garden and The Standard Bar and Grill, home to potentially the best burger I have ever tasted. And I don’t take such claims lightly.

Restaurants aside, the hotel is quintessentially New York. The rooms are small but trendy and boast views of the highline right underneath it, the Hudson River and the never ending city skyline of Manhattan. Centrally located with some of the city’s best shopping and dining right at your door.

  • Service: friendly, casual and helpful.
  • Room service: A good variety of options, served quickly and good quality. Watch out though, it’s expensive!
    Rooms: compact but functional – you want to be sure you’re comfortable with any others staying with you, there is zero bathroom privacy. On the plus side, you can wash your hair while admiring the city skyline and highland below.
    Amenity: A roof top gym, pool, free wifi, plenty of dining options – the hotel has everything you will need.
    Best for: a holiday or weekender for couples or friends – not ideal for the business traveller as there are no meeting rooms.
    Price: It is expensive given it is not a luxury hotel but worth the money if you have it for the views and experience alone.
  • Location: The meatpacking district is central making travel uptown, downtown and Brooklyn easy. Some of the restaurants best shopping and dining is right at your door.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.

Review: The Crown Metropol ….

Review: The Crown Metropol ….

Metropol

Southbank is a great alternative if your visiting Melborune to explore the city because you get to admire the views of the city and other Melbourne landmarks like Flinders Street station, the Yarra River and Federation Square from your room. Crown has plenty of hotel options in close proximity to their casino which is home to some of the biggest names in Australia’s restaurant scene (Rockpool, Spice Temple and Heston Blumenthal ‘s Fat Duck to open there soon).  The best thing about the Metropol is that it is brand spanking new as far as hotels go, so no feeling like you stepped back in time into a bad 80’s movie set here. The views are incredible, especially if you are awake for the sunrise and watching the hot air balloons descend over the CBD.

The service: Professional and friendly
The food:  Fantastic. Not just your normal room service here, you can order selected items from the resort’s restaurant menus and the breakfast buffet is -Off. The. Charts.
The rooms: Generous with space, open bathroom lay out with separate toilet and showers with an open large bath tub, a good variety of magazines and TV channels. Great modern design, natural light and comfortable interiors, definitely a room you want to spend a bit of time in.
Amenity: my favourite part of staying at the Metropol is doing early morning laps in their roof top pool with double height ceilings with views spanning across the city. The roof top bar and gym are also get the nod of approval from me – nothing better than working out and drinking on top of the world.
The Lobby: Huge, grand, modern and it features a stunning piece of colourful art I would love in my own home.
Best for: Work travel or Melbourne weekender.

Oink oink,

Truffle Pig.