Iceland– bring a load of cash

Since my long ago days in university, I have longed to visit Iceland. Okay, it was initially inspired by the dozen or so very hot Icelanders who were recruited for our track and field team, but in the intervening decades, I’ve found out that Iceland has a lot more to recommend it than just really hot men.

For one, there’s knitting. Lots of knitting. Even men knit. I know other men knit, but even Franklin Habit isn’t as cool a name as Þórgnýr Thoroddsen. In fact, so many people knit, that hand-knit Icelandic sweaters can be had for very reasonable prices, even from the souvenir chains. I settled for some Lopi wool (okay, not the softest stuff) which I will eventually knit into a lopapeysa. I know, Freyja isn’t the most challenging of lopapeysur, but I know myself, and stranded knitting is not my thing.

Yarn bombing, Reykjavik style.

Yarn bombing, Reykjavik style.

 

There is also so much hand knitting, that you can score yourself a major deal at the Red Cross, or any other used clothing store. I was too cheap to splash out 25,000KR on a new sweater, but I did get a used one for 4,000KR. That’s less than we paid for a lunch of soup and coffee for two!

Hand-me-down hand-knit lopapeysa!

Hand-me-down hand-knit lopapeysa!

Bargain hunter tip: the Red Cross outside of the CBD has lower prices and a better shopping experience. As in, it (unlike the other location) does not resemble Filene’s Basement. Both locations are on Laugavegur: 12 and 116. Here are some other second hand shops in Reykjavik.

The Reykjavik Red Cross where you won't get in a slap fight over a sweater.

The Reykjavik Red Cross where you won’t get in a slap fight over a sweater.

While you are walking up to the good Red Cross, you can stop in at the Phallological  Museum. It’s a bit pricey (1000KR, I think), but it was raining, so it seemed like a good way to spend thirty minutes waiting for the weather to clear. It is surprisingly informational, but some of the displays are a bit odd– home decor fashioned from foreskin, anyone?

Horny old goat

Horny old goat

Another bargain hunter tip: stay in an apartment. It’s about the same cost as a hotel, but you have cooking and laundry facilities. Food is seriously expensive in Iceland. That 4,500KR lunch was not atypical. At one place, we paid 6,900KR for a bottle of wine that cost 7,000 won at Emart.

Caviar disguised as toothpaste. Approximate cost: $1 bajillion.

Caviar disguised as toothpaste. Approximate cost: $1 bajillion.

I’m sure there are hidden gems serving delicious food at reasonable prices, but we didn’t come across any of those. In fact, everywhere we ate, all we heard was English and German being spoken, even in little towns far from the usual tourist spots. It really seemed as if restaurants existed for the tourist trade, regardless of how out of the way they may be.

You can also bring in 4kg of food, 3l of wine, and a 12-pack of beer. We did not know that, and were flying Easyjet, so it didn’t really matter, so we did our shopping at the baggage claim duty free. It doesn’t really sell food, other than the usual assortment of chocolate, though.

We saw the sights, hiked, and watched soccer, but I’ll save all that for next time.

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