A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: keithyuenck

6 things to do in Reykavik

People always relate Iceland as cold, boring, and mysterious place in earth. True in certain extent that Iceland is cold (not as cold as you think) and mysterious due to the rich land forms caused by the volcanically and geologically active nature. But Iceland is never a boring place! The only way for you to get into this amazing piece of land is via Reykavik, the capital city of Iceland, home of two-third of the entire Icelandic population!

Before you submerge into the beauty of Icelandic fields, plateau which characterized by lava, sands, mountains and gorgeous glaciers, you will find many interesting things to do in Reykjavik, the northern most capital city of the world! Here are the 6 you mustn't miss out:

1) Hallgrímskirkja Church

Hallgrímskirkja Church is Reykjavik's main landmark that you surely won't missed (unless you are not in the capital for some reason). It's tower can be seen from almost everywhere in the city!

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The church stands on a hill, Skólavörðuholt, which is situated in the center of the city and is visible from all over Reykjavík and surrounding areas, making it a great landmark.

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The tower with the observatory is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm. The price is 400 ISK for adults and 100 ISK for children 7 to 14 years old. You buy the tickets from the church-shop on the left hand side inside the church. The view is breathtaking, you can see all of Reykjavík from it really, the Atlantic ocean, the mountains, the mountain Esjan being the closest to Reykjavík. The church bells ring every 15 minutes so be aware of that. From time to time the church bells play tunes, which is lovely really.

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2) The Harpa Conference & Concert Hall

Located by the old harbor between Reykjavík city center and the North Atlantic, it stands out as a unique landmark in continuous interplay with its surroundings. The design was influenced by Iceland‘s dramatic nature. Situated on the boundary between land and sea, the building is a gleaming sculpture reflecting both sky and harbor, as well as the vibrant life of the city.

I was blown away by this building. Quirky, futuristic design on the outside; art, culture and shops selling unusual design on the inside. Fantastic cafe with fabulous cakes. Wonderful views of the harbour. Sophisticated, stylish and every superlative you can mention.

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3) Sun Voyager

Sun Voyager is a dreamboat, an ode to the sun. Intrinsically, it contains within itself the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom. Indeed this gives you an idea how magical Iceland is and you will be surprise Icelandic people are superstitious and superstition has remained an important part of the nation’s culture since the island’s settlement.

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Walk along the old harbor in Reykjavik, past the Harpa concert hall, and you come to what looks like the skeleton of a Viking ship, facing east. You're at the Sun Voyager, a beautiful view point. The only thing that spoils it is the traffic whizzing by at all hours of the day and night.

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It was my first day in Reykjavik and I decided to do my first KJS in Iceland! :-)

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Well consider my luck to get someone to take this amazing Iceland KJS for me! More to come...

4) Laugavegur Street

Laugavegur is the major commercial veins of downtown Reykjavík, Iceland and one of the oldest shopping district. The name derived from"wash road", as it used to lead to the hot springs in Laugardalur where in olden days the women of Reykjavík took their laundry for washing.

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This is the main shopping street in the city. It started out out as Bankistraeti and as you go up the hill away from the old town it turned into Laugavegur. The shops range from high fashion to dollar stores to fine home furnishings to kitchen gadgets. There are many vegetarian restaurants at the bottom of the street and they were awesome. Always interesting shops and restaurants and very friendly people.

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As shopping streets in most capitals go, it really has not much to offer, other than a special little charm and a few really nice restaurants and coffee houses. Prices are on the expensive side, but then don't forget you get tax-free refunds when flying out. Don't forget Iceland is still part of Scandinavia, so as the price as well! :-)

5) The Vegetarian Options in Reykjavik

Gló
Raw and Vegetarian Food
Rope yoga center, Engjateig 19
Tel: 553-1111
http://www.glo.is/
Mon-Fri 11:30-20:00 and Saturday 11-15

Is the only restaurant that serves raw food, but they also serve some cooked food. Note their website is only in Icelandic. Very centrally located restaurant on the first floor. Largest of the local veggie spots. The wrap I had was fantastic as were the salad choices and dessert. However TAKE CARE as there was a chicken or meat dish on the menu. The one thing that lets the place down. They are not 100% vegetarian and some dishes contain onion and garlic. Salads and potatoes are available. Soups contain onion and garlic unfortunately! Still, a good options to get fresh and raw healthy vegetarian meal. :-)

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Graenn Kostur
Vegetarian
Skólavörðustígur 8b
Tel: 354-5522028
Mon-Sat 11.30-9.00, Sun 1.00-9.00

Walk down the main shopping street from the church, Skolavordustigur. Keep going- eventually on the LEFT side of the street, there will be a turning called 'Bergstadastraeti' with a shop called 'Lundinn the Puffin'. Walk BEHIND the puffin store, If you reach the end of the road and meet Laugavegur- you've gone just a bit too far!

Given the lack of vegetarians in Iceland, it is great that they have this place! I had a spinach lasagne which was great (and healthy!) and also had a curry platter, loved both meals. Expensive (but everywhere in Iceland is) but the portions were great for the price in my view. They did also have a vegan treat/cake of some sort on offer. Lovely staff, highly recommend stopping here- plus it was always busy with locals, surely a good thing. :-)

Somehow, it feels like fine dining cafe when I was having my meal there. Nice ambience and beautiful scenery with delicious Icelandic food. What else can you ask for?

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6) Northern Lights In Reykjavik

First of all, northern lights are (usually but not always) green lights that can be seen from places in the far north such as Iceland, Scandinavia, Alaska and northern parts of Canada. Because of their nature it looks like the lights are moving around the sky, dancing if you will, and it’s a pretty spectacular sight. I heard from some locals, in Chinese and Japanese culture it’s believed that a child conceived under the Northern Lights will be blessed with good fortunes.

The official Aurora season in Iceland is from October till March but like with so many other things that have to do with Icelandic nature it’s not something you can say with any certainty. For example, the first Northern Lights of the season in Reykjavík this year were seen around the middle of August. The ideal conditions to see them are when it’s cold and dark outside and the Aurora activity is high.

So I was very fortunate to be able to catch a glimpse of the northern lights as there was a huge solar activity or wave from the sun. That night was particularly cold and unbearable. As that was not in the "season of northern lights" there wasnt any tour operator going out away from the city to see the lights. Monitoring the northern lights forecast http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora I know that night is my only chance and in the city!

Some tips I have gotten from my Icelandic friend, if you’re going to want to photograph them, you’re going to need: A camera that can work in manual mode, a tripod, remote timer, fastest lens you can get your hands on (f/2.8 or faster preferred, but any will work). Get the camera on the tripod, set the ISO to the highest your camera can handle without significant noise (this is typically around ISO 1600), open your lens up to it’s widest aperture and start exposures off at around 5 seconds and and up until you find the sweet spot. Typically you don’t really want to go longer than 15 or 20 seconds as the motion in the aurora will blur in the photograph.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my tripod with me for this trip! Yes, my bad! I regretted! So that's my best photo I have got!

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Reykjavik in a nutshell

Reykjavik is an amazing city, small and charming. Perhaps I am from a tropical climate, my personal opinion that the Icelandic 10 minutes weather is a little unbearable (heavy downpour of snow --> hailstones --> rain --> sunshine --> cycle goes again). But Reykjavik is a charming city, I am referring fog on the bay, lush green fields and the Reykjavik city scape set against snow capped mountains. That's the view you will get to see ONLY in ICELAND! :-)

Posted by keithyuenck 00:43 Archived in Iceland Tagged in to things do iceland 6 reykjavik Comments (0)

Ice Climbing Iceland

Mountain climbing is like a life lesson... when you climb you need courage and strength with prudence of course! Step by step, one at a time you conquer each step to achieve greater heights, ultimate goal is to reach the top!

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A minor momentary negligence can cause a fall and may destroy everything. So that taught me not to do anything in haste in life, look well on each step, and plan from the beginning what I wanna achieve to reach the top!

I totally have no more strength after that climb! haha

Posted by keithyuenck 15:16 Archived in Iceland Tagged ice climbing iceland Comments (0)

Lava Caving in Iceland

A great day out Lava Caving at Leiðarendi! Met new friends from Germany, 2 cool OZ boys and a nice Russian couple... small but really cool grp... not forgetting our superior Icelandic guide!

Lava Caving was small... some parts were pretty narrow and really hard to navigate especially me bringing 2 cameras and with a sling bag.... people with Claustrophobia a BIG NO NO! haha

Hurt my hands in the cave as it was really cold and forgotten abt my gloves, bits of cut here and there... well bad on me but still... an amazing sight I have captured in the lava cave!

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Posted by keithyuenck 14:59 Archived in Iceland Tagged lava caving iceland Comments (0)

Harry Potter Day in England

I am getting lazier in getting facebook updates... sorry.... It's just sooooo much to do in Edinburgh! haha Still have things I havent update for Iceland and Scotland...

Anyway, will try to keep up to it.... just had something fun today with the wizard professors!!! Learn how to use the magic spells and fly a broom! Well... my Gryffindor Professor said I can represent Gryffindor and kick some butt against the Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff & Slytherin! Oh yea! Bring it on... haha

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Posted by keithyuenck 12:32 Archived in England Tagged england castle harry alnwick potter Comments (0)

Beautiful day in Dublin

I am really very fortunate!!! It's 10 degree celsiums with sun today! Caught my with my best German buddy Martin Leonhardt, havent seen him since 3 years in New York! He moved to Dublin now so it's awesomeness to the max to hang out with him today!

He told me according to Irish weather, it's NEVER as clear and beautiful as today! Guess I am fortunate, cos I also heard my Scottish friend said the same to me... seldom to have a beautiful sunny day!

So many photos today but just show some for now!

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Posted by keithyuenck 12:29 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland dublin beautiful weather sunny nice Comments (0)

Desert Treats in Dubai

A very fun day in Dubai. To be honest, I am really surprise of how much fun I had in the desert! Everything was great... and that sort of immune me from the harsh hot weather!

Dubai is a small middle east country and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed once said something on aspiring to be ‘number one’:
“We, in the UAE, have no such word as “impossible”; it does not exist in our lexicon. Such a word is used by the lazy and the weak, who fear challenges and progress. When one doubts his potential and capabilities as well as his confidence, he will lose the compass that leads him to success and excellence, thus failing to achieve his goal. I require you, youth, to insist on number one.”

I really think U.A.E. has a very good leader!

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Posted by keithyuenck 12:25 Archived in United Arab Emirates Tagged desert dubai uae Comments (0)

A day in Mumbai

Mumbai (the locals pronounce as mum'ai also known previously as Bombay) which is named after a goddess; is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. A financial and entertainment hub (think Bollywood) of India with an official population of 22 million people, it is truly a vibrant city of natives and migrants from the rich to the poor - a remarkable melting pot of cultures and communities.

We truly enjoyed viewing the sights and learning about the history and local life of Mumbai like the Dhobi Ghaut laundry men, Ghandi's house, Crawford Market, Victoria Train Station, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, The Queens Necklace (Marine Drive) and Gateway of India.

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We were also heartened and humbled to learn more about the slums and homeless in Mumbai, Ghandi's struggle for peace & independence and the sad events of terrorists attacks on the Leopold cafe and Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Trident Hotel, Train Station and many other places which we visited and saw the traces of pain which were left behind!

Too bad its was the monsoon season, if not we would have better photo opportunities and see more sights like the Chowpatty Beach and Hanging Gardens. It was interesting to note that locals really love walking and enjoying the rain with crowds strolling and gathering without umbrellas at the beaches and food markets.

With wet sandy feet and a joyful heart, we brothers look forward to our next league of our trip!

Posted by keithyuenck 12:08 Archived in India Tagged india house mumbai cafe leopold ghandi Comments (0)

Serengeti Leopards

Didnt manage to complete my Big 5 Mission in South Africa last year! Only managed to see a dead Leopard in Botswana!

This time, we managed to catch 2 Leopards on a same day (separate occasion of course) in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania! I asked my driver what's the odds of seeing a Leopard, he said we were very very very lucky to see 2 leopards on a same day! usually people can't see any leopard, and it is the hardest of the big 5! 20% chance of seeing a leopard in a national park!

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We are truly blessed and fortunate! Well, exchanged with our patiences cos we spent abt 1 hour to 2 hours waiting for each leopard to show up after seeing the kill on the tree! We also had a strategy to lure the leopard out, by driving away and come out with a sudden surprise! haha

Experience only in Africa!

Posted by keithyuenck 19:03 Archived in Tanzania Tagged animals africa safari tanzania serengeti leopard Comments (0)

Sleepyheads in Ngorongoro National Park

A siesta is the way to accomplish longer distance and great tasks!

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Posted by keithyuenck 10:38 Archived in Tanzania Tagged lions sleeping hippos Comments (0)

Masai Tribe

The Masai Mara Tribe Warrior taught us how to set-up a fire using nature tools (wood and sticks), in exchange, we taught the Masai Mara Tribe Warrior how to use a touch screen phone! haha

Such feelings, is hard to describe the interactions we had with them!

Sincerity is the key which will open the door through which you will see your separate parts, and you will see something quite new.

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This part of my experience almost makes me teared! Along the journey, we saw many beautiful kids, running or walking along the road of Kenya and Tanzania... most of the times, we felt we were like celebrities cos the African kids are soooo adorable... will run towards the vehicle and wave hi and smile at you!

The only opportunity of interactions with them is when we visited the Masaai Mara Tribe in Kenya. The kids were sooo innocent and adorable! Probably because being an uncle of my 5 monster at home (uncle of 4 nephews and 1 niece), I was able to hit off well with the kids easily!

When I first saw the kids, they were so innocent, and soooo happy! Although they have no toys, no clean beautiful clothes but their smile is always there for you! Something must be really keeping the kids happy... well I guess... Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication and hence keeps them happy! Singapore kids do not run to strangers with a smile... even if u give them iphone, ipads, handheld game sets and expensive toys.... always a problem, sometimes also tough to make them greet adults... but not so much of a problem for the well mannered African kids! So, I wonder myself... whether Singapore kids are happier or African kids are happier??? Bear in mind, the only things that the African kids have were the irritating flies that we hated...so many flies were on their faces! Such poor kids already lived with it...

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A young Kenyan man told me in real... he said "yes, we are poor but I always thank god and know god has a reason for giving me such life. God still gave me a healthy hands to work hard for my family and myself". I felt I'm much weaker as compared to the Africans because if we put on such situations... would we be as tough as them??? Perhaps? I don't know....

Posted by keithyuenck 10:33 Archived in Kenya Tagged children africa tribe kenya masai Comments (0)

Masai Mara National Park

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer!

Seeing one of nature's biggest wonders - the Wildebeest migration is truly a spectacular sight witnessed by a lucky few. Counted among the Seven Wonders of the World, this overwhelming natural phenomenon is something you can experience with only your own eyes. If you are a nature enthusiast looking for an experience that will change travelling forever, head down to Kenya and Tanzania and watch nature in its full and unforgiving glory!

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Theme Song: The Lion King - Can You Feel The Love Tonight - Elton John

The Great Migration Updates (River of Life or River of Death):

The Wildebeests walked miles and miles from Tanzania through some big African Lion's pride and passes through many danger zones of natural predators i.e. Cheetahs, Leopard, Hyenas etc... finally reached the river (border between Kenya and Tanzania). The grass is indeed greener on the other side, for greener pasture, millions of wildebeest crossed the river....

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In the struggle to cross the Mara River, many are drowned or swept away by strong currents.
The crossing attracts crocodiles who each year wait for the season's bounty.
Lions are frequently seen attacking the herds especially at night dragging down weaker individuals.
At the same time, packs of Hyena weave throughout the herds, singling out and separating the young and the weak.
By September the herds have reached their destination spreading out to graze across the Mara.

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Indeed a spectacular experience to witness the annual great migration!

Posted by keithyuenck 10:19 Archived in Kenya Tagged animals park safari national kenya mara masai Comments (0)

My Collections - Flag Badges

New collections to the badges of country flags I have visited! Truly blessed and thankful for everything..... will work harder to travel more... share more stories and capture more beauty of the world! For peace and harmony, i truly believe!

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Wherever I go will become part of me somehow and I travel not to escape life but for life not to escape me! Traveling doesn't become an adventure until you leave yourself behind and discover yourself again! You don't need to be rich in order to travel cos a journey is best measured in friends rather than in miles!

May god bless the world with peace and harmony and i have many more country flag badges to grab!

Posted by keithyuenck 10:17 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Vegetarian in Tanzania

A lot of questions on my meals for East Africa trip! Gotta say we hired GREAT driver/guide who knows his stuff in Africa Safari animals, road and safety + we also had a GREAT COOK Abraham Philipo who travels with us in Tanzania!!! Great awesome delicious and sumptuous food and he tailored to my vegetarian diet needs! He is awesome and u gotta travel with them if u hit in Tanzania!

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Posted by keithyuenck 10:11 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

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