Reykjavik travel tips

I’ve only spent two days in Reykjavik, Iceland in my life, so I’m not ready to write the guide book for Lonely Planet. But so many friends have told me that Iceland is on their bucket list, so I thought there would be some interest in some personal recommendations. I’ll keep this brief: two super hotels, two phenomenal bakeries, and two memorable seafood restaurants.

Our very first stop after driving the 30 miles from Keflavik International Airport to the city was the Braud Bakery. We were hungry right off the bat for breakfast, and I remembered my friend Britt’s words, “best cinnamon rolls I ever tasted.” Well, Britt was not exaggerating. Apparently, the hard working Icelanders practice baking all winter long, as they huddle inside their homes in the 24 hour darkness. And here is your first vocabulary word: Braud means bread. A second and third visit to Braud brought us to the conclusion that cookies and everything else they bake is exceptional as well. (Time to fly home before gaining the Iceland-15!)

#bakery, #reykjavik, #iceland, #bestcinnamonrolls, #firststop, #wheretoeat
The tiny but now world famous Braud Bakery in Reykjavik, Iceland
#bakery, #reykjavik, #iceland, #breakfast, #bestplace
Colorful exterior of the Braud Bakery, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Apparently all tennis players love pastry, and Britt (my tennis buddy) also recommended the Sandholt Bakery on the main shopping street Laugavegur. Eggs are healthy, but they cost $40, so let’s be practical and have another pastry and coffee here. (Warning: everything in Iceland — food, drinks, hotel, wool hats, etc. — all cost twice as much as you expect.) By the end of your trip, you’ll be relaxed and saying, “who cares?”

There are many nice looking and convenient hotels in Reykjavik. We favor Hilton hotels, and I can report that both the Hilton Reykjavik on the north perimeter of the city as well as the centrally located “Canopy by Hilton” were terrific. If you don’t have a rental car and plan to walk the city, choose the latter.

When it comes to food, I doubt that you can get a bad meal in Reykjavik. Literally everything we had to eat was fresh and delicious often with interesting preparation. A shopkeeper where we bought a wool sweater recommended these two restaurants. For a casual bistro, try Salka Valka “Fish and More”  at 23 Skolavordustigur. (Say that fast three times!) The local dish fish stew is yummy. We spoke with some friendly Norwegians there.

Sjavargrillid “Seafood Grill” is on the same street — Skolavordistigur, which you can easily find on foot in the shopping district. I had the perch, creatively prepared. Service was great, and the place was busy. Make a reservation here: +354 571 1100.

Wherever you go in Reykjavik, whatever you eat, whatever you buy – have a wonderful time!

New York State of Mind

Just returned home from three days in Manhattan helping my daughter move into her new apartment. Unless it’s raining, New York never disappoints. There is always a new restaurant to try, a new boutique,  a new walk, a new vista and an old friend to look up. This time we enjoyed two new restaurants: The Smith on Broadway and Lincoln Center (delicious food and delightful sidewalk cafe) and the Boathouse in Central Park for dinner (fabulous food and serene view of the lake at dusk). On this trip, I was too busy unpacking boxes and making trips to Target to take many photos, but I can share with you some keepers from my April 20 trip.

In April, we enjoyed a Saturday stroll in Central Park and enjoyed seeing hundreds of New Yorkers enjoying the spring day. As one strolls in Central Park, the vistas abound. Lots of walkers, runners, bikers and dog walkers share the paths around the frequent rock outcroppings. Trees, lakes, bridges and buildings of the East and West sides provide ever-changing backdrops.

Two young entrepreneurs (one amateur comedian and one gymnast) drew themselves a stage on the sidewalk, called themselves the Powerhouse and posted a can for donations. “Obama wants change, but WE want doll-ahs!” the diminutive comedian shouted. We joined the other passersby along the rectangular outline. After loosening up with a few one liners, urging us not too look so bored and smug, we turned our attention to the gymnast as he sprinted to center stage for three remarkable flips. Notice his position in the air and shadow on the ground:

I loved this view from the top floor of the Metropolitan Club across Central Park from East 60th Street looking west toward the Time Warner towers on Columbus Circle. Want to see what a difference a lens makes? The second shot was taken from the same location, but with a fish-eye lens. In this shot, you can see the Plaza on the left side of the frame, Fifth Avenue across the bottom, the Time Warner Buildings at center and more sky and more Park. Even though the buildings show dramatic distortion, I think the image is more fun. Surely, it is more dynamic with the traffic flow and cloud dotted sky.

For my last image comparison, I’d like to share two architecture images: an Baroque residential building on West 72nd Street and Central Park West, in contrast to the brand new (not yet completed) Millennium Tower, located next to ground zero, the former World Trade Center site.  The Millennium Tower, sleek and ultra modern, is shown from the Hudson River, where we were taking an “Around Manhattan Architecture Cruise” that disembarked from Chelsea Pier — a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. There are so many stunning vistas in Manhattan, especially in fine weather.