Ingrid K. Williams shares exhilarating news in The New York Times about Iceland’s recent upsurge. The article describes Reykjavik as being “where this year the capital’s impressive new concert hall won the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award, the European Union’s top prize for contemporary architecture. In other parts of town, new restaurants are embracing fresh local fare, and the bacchanalian night life is thumping with a crop of new bars and clubs.”
Mapping the city with 36 hours of fun, Williams recommends taking “the elevator to the top of the austere Hallgrimskirkja, an imposing pale gray church whose distinctive stepped-slope facade frames a tower (admission, 700 kronur, or about $6 at 118 kronur to the dollar) from which a bird’s-eye view of the city’s colorful rooftops and compact downtown awaits. Then return to sea level to marvel at the city’s newest architectural landmark: the Harpa concert hall, unveiled in May 2011, is a dazzling geometric structure that sits like a jewel on the waterfront.”
Next would be Tonar for live performances by musicians from Iceland’s experimental music scene on Fridays, followed by a stroll to Bio Paradis, an independent film house. Then taste Icelandic tapas at Forrettabarinn near the harbor and craft beers at the Microbar, a pub in the City Center Hotel.
Start your Saturday by meandering along the waterfront walk into residential Seltjarnarnes area and toward the lighthouse on Grotta Island, then dip your feet into a geothermal footpath which is “Kvika,” a sculpture by Olof Nordal. You will be ready for Mokka-Kaffi, a coffee shop specializing in homemade waffles with jam and fresh cream (850 kronur) before heading over to the Kiosk, a co-op featuring the creations of eight young designers. In a dizzying tour, Williams takes you on to venues for lobster mini burgers, dill aquavit and Birkir snaps where you may revel all night.
Wake up to white hot dogs with fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, rémoulade, sweet Icelandic mustard (380 kronur). Then take the ferry from Skarfabakki pier to the uninhabited island of Videya for a leisurely walk along meadows, beaches and past American artist Richard Serra’s installation of basalt columns.