Days 1 + 2 in Iceland

Days 1 + 2 in Iceland – Northern Lights, a tall Church, and Bonus Supermarkets

Our trip to Iceland started off with us landing at 6am in Keflavik Airport, which is about 45 minutes away from the city of Reykjavik. Bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived, we made our way to the FlyBus for our ride into the city. After dropping off our luggage at the hotel (quick shout out to Centerhotel Midgardur, which I really loved), we set off on Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik, to look for breakfast.

I highly recommend Sandholt. They open super early and stay open later than a lot of the shops and cafes on Laugavegur, so I really like them. We would often stop in for a mid-afternoon or post-dinner treat since they sell all sorts of goodies – sandwiches, bread sliced to order, pastries, desserts, etc.

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After breakfast, we ventured down to the waterfront towards Harpa, which is a really pretty concert hall/conference center. It’s beautiful during the day, but absolutely stunning during the night when all the colors are reflecting off of the façade. It features a very distinctive colored glass façade that was inspired by the basalt landscape of Iceland. The inside is free to visit and explore and there are several gift shops inside as well.

 

We spent the rest of the day exploring Laugavegur and doing some souvenir shopping. Yes, that’s right, we started souvenir shopping on our very first day!

The rest of our first night was Northern Lights hunting! The forecast for the night was between a 2 to 3, which is about a mid-range forecast. We drove out about 1.5 hours away from Reykjavik before we could see it. And when we did, it was glorious. I can’t believe we were so lucky to see the Northern Lights on our first day! Being from the city, I have also never seen quite as many stars as I had that night in the middle of nowhere Iceland. Truly a beautiful and unforgettable night!

 

Our second day in Iceland started off pretty late. We had breakfast at the hotel and made our way down to the waterfront to check out the Sun Voyager or Solfar. It is described as a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. It’s really cool and very large. I enjoyed seeing it.

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We then made our way to Hallgrímskirkja, one of Reykjavik’s most iconic sites. You can see this church from a lot of places in Reykjavik. It’s pretty striking when you’re walking up one of the side streets from Laugavegur and spot it on the hill top. At 74.5 meters high, it is the largest church in Iceland and one of the tallest structures as well. The structure of the outside of the church, in my opinion, is the most interesting part of visiting. It is said to have been designed to resemble the trap rocks, mountains, and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape.

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You can visit the top of the church to get a fantastic 360 degree view of Reykjavik. It costs 900KR.

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After our visit to the church, we checked into our AirBnB, which I am linking here, because I absolutely loved it and want to share it with everyone. It’s just a short 5 minute walk from Hallgrímskirkja, meaning you can use Bus Stop #8 for any drop offs or pickups for tours.

After settling into our AirBnB, we made our way over to the Bonus supermarket. I am completely in love with Bonus. I love their logo. I love their prices. I love their selection. I just love everything about them!

The prices are legit about half of the prices in all the other stores in Reykjavik and most of the time the selection is exactly the same. They sell pretty much everything that you need – except maybe razors. I’m the type that loves to buy candy and snacks back as souvenirs for friends and family and Bonus was THE SPOT to do it. They had all sorts of local Icelandic candies and snacks.

 

 

Labor Day Weekend in Chicago

When it came time to plan our activities for September, we figured we could work around Labor Day and do a small trip somewhere close to Michigan. We bounced a few road trip ideas around and settled on Chicago since I have never been. It’s about a 4 hour drive from Dearborn, Michigan, so not too far but also not too close.

We began our drive on a Saturday morning and arrived in Chicago around 11:30am – we had not accounted for the one hour time difference! Our first stop was Superdawg’s Drive In, which was a recommendation from a coworker. She highly recommended Superdawg’s for a Chicago-style hot dog. It was pretty darn good and I am also highly recommending it!

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We hit the Lincoln Park Zoo and Conservatory after a quick lunch since our AirBnB was in the Lincoln Park area. Linking it here for anyone who’s interested because we had such a nice stay there, I feel like I need to tell everyone about it!

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The Zoo and Conservatory are both completely free, but you will have to pay for parking if you cannot find street parking. You can probably spend a solid 3-4 hours at the Zoo – there is so much to see!

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Our second day in Chicago began with a visit to see the Cloud Gate, or the Bean, in Millennium Park. We tried and failed to take some selfies. Much fun was had.

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We then wandered to Grant Park to check out the Buckingham Fountain, which is HUGE! If you’re into fountains, I highly recommend this.

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Then we walked some more and got to Museum Campus for a visit to the Shedd Aquarium. Bank of America actually offers free general admission to the Aquarium for the first full weekend of every month, so we took advantage of this. We spent about a solid 3-4 hours in the Aquarium and thoroughly enjoyed our time.

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After a brief break, we headed over to the Field Museum, which is a natural history museum. If you’re a fan of totem poles, you’re in for a treat! There is a lot to see at the Field Museum, so plan to spend at least 3-4 hours here.

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Dinner that night was one of our only sit-down meals of the trip. We went to The Purple Pig on a recommendation of a friend and had a lovely meal. Definitely get the Uni Toast and the Chocolate Blackout Cake!

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Our last day started off with a nice walk along North Avenue Beach, which is a beach along Lake Michigan in the middle of Chicago! The walk was really nice and we wished we had brought our bathing suits!

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We ended our trip with lunch at The Little Goat Diner, which was jam packed! We split an order of their Dark Chocolate Crispy Pancakes and a Goat Patty Melt, which were both delicious. Ask for their special condensed milk creamer for your coffee, you won’t regret it!

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We had a lovely time in Chicago and I definitely wouldn’t mind going back to check out a whole bunch of other attractions we had missed. Until next time!