Top 10 Reasons Iceland May Not Be Your Jam

Skógafoss

Or your gig, or your bag or whatever it is the kids are saying these days. Iceland is not for everyone and that is OK. Not all people, places and things are for all people. I get into the reasons Iceland may not be for you Late Night with David Letterman-style down below.

10. You’re a big fan of carrying a personal firearm. Iceland just doesn’t get down like that. Nobody carries guns, not even beat cops.

9. You like your day/sunlight and night/darkness in moderation. You’d be fine in the spring or autumn but the 24hrs of daylight in mid-summer is not everyone’s cup of tea. Similarly, the deep, dark, dank winter months are ROUGH.

8. You like warmth. Iceland NEVER gets hot. NEVER. Not even at the height of summer. You might get a warm day or hour here or there but walking around all day in shorts, skirts, summer dresses, tank tops and sleeveless shirt is not a thing here. Layer up children.

7. You hate nature. One of the best things about Iceland is that draw dropping, stunning, gorgeous natural beauty is all over and easy to get to. If hiking up a mountain at midnight in summer and driving out into the middle of nowhere in the cold-ass winter to look at the northern lights sound like torture, yeah, Iceland is not for you.

6. You love the noise and hustle and bustle of big cities. Iceland is fresh outta big cities. Reykjavík is a small city with a tiny bit of hustle and not a bit of bustle to be found. It’s so quiet, I couldn’t sleep through the night for a few weeks after moving, and I live in “noisy” downtown.

5. You hate to drive. Reykjavík has a serious car addiction. If you live anywhere but downtown Reykjavík and the immediate neighborhoods you have to drive to get just about anywhere. The city buses in Reykjavík aren’t too bad but they ain’t cheap. 

4. You really like keeping to a schedule and for everything to be orderly and organized. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen or it might…there’s a possibility but I wouldn’t count on anyone knowing anything about whatever may or may not be going on at any given time. Good luck with that. Þetta reddast.

3. You believe variety is the spice of life. Not much in the way of variety in Iceland…except maybe the various kinds of crap weather. Iceland really knows how to diversify in that sector. Everything else, you’re gonna have maybe two choices and it’s gonna be expensive.

2. You love a bargain. Kiss your coins goodbye cause just about everything on this island has to be imported and it costs a pretty penny to get it here. Get ready to shell out more money than you ever imagined you would for produce, books, electronics, video games–you name it, you’re gonna pay for it. The good thing about this is that you end up getting your priorities straight on what you’re willing to spend your hard earned cash on.

1. You’re a horrible person who hates sheep. I mean really, how can you hate sheep? It’s not their fault people brought them here and they aided in the deforestation of Iceland. Damn, can’t sheep get a break?! 

Best Places to Get a Good Cup of Tea in Reykjavík

Icelanders LOVE their coffee so you can get a great cup just about anywhere. But my Icelandic peeps aren’t too hip to the tea jive, which makes it difficult for a tea drinker like myself to find a cafe that serves a good cup of tea. In two years of living in Reykjavík I’ve managed to find a few places that know how to (to misquote Missy Elliot) put the kettle on, steep it and (re)serve it…with cake, yummy, yummy cake.

Kaffi Laugarlækur

Laugarnesvegur 74a, 105 Reykjavík

This place is kind of a hidden gem. It’s not in downtown Reykjavík but in a neighboring emerging hipster (not the kind you want to trip because they’re so freakin’ pretentious but maybe just poke really hard because they’re on the verge) neighborhood. They serve a lovely pot of tea and have great vegan and vegetarian options on the menu. Two pinky fingers holding a fancy tea cup up from me.

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Kaffi Brennslan

Laugavegur 21, 101 Reykjavík

Kaffi Brennslan is smack dab in the middle of Laugavegur, has a small yet carefully selected variety of loose leaf and bagged teas and has yummy cakes. All of these elements combined make it the bees knees in my book. Did I mention they also have waffles? Served with chocolate and whipped cream? Yeah. Tasty.

Slippbarinn

Mýrargata 2, 101 Reykjavík

Amid the mid-century chic with a sprinkling of industrial decor, Slippbarinn serves a pretty decent little pot of tea (and a yummy slice of carrot cake) with a view of the old harbor. One of the things I love about it is that you can sit at the bar, at one of the nearby tables, or take your pot o’ tea to a little nook surrounded by shelves decorated with all manner of interesting knick-knacks. 

Te & Kaffi

Laugavegur 27, 101 Reykjavík

There’s nothing spectacular about the tea here and some locations serve the tea after it’s been steeped so you can’t be sure of the strength. Stay with me here. The thing I like about Te & Kaffi is that they sell loose leaf tea. I can get my Earl Grey at a fairly reasonable price and brew it to my liking, in my kitchen and then watch a Korean drama or work on my novel manuscript which I am sure I will finish in the next few years or so.

How I brew it up in my kitchen.

Súfistinn Kaffihús

Strandgata 9, Hafnarfjörður

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but this cafe is actually in downtown Hafnafjörður. The cafe itself is cozy with two creaky floors of old, small town charm. I will say that they were a little heavy handed with the tea leaves but I prefer my too strong than too weak. Added bonus, you can sit upstairs by one of their old school wood frame windows and watch the denizens of Hafnafjörður go about their…Hafnafjörðuring.

Honorable Mentions:

Stofan Kaffihús

Aðalstræti, 101 Reykjavík

You’ll get your classic eclectic coffee house vibe here but what you won’t get is freshly boiled hot water hitting your tea leaves. After I ordered my tea I was given a tea cup, tea bag and pointed in the direction of a hot water dispenser. Not ideal but not bad. And since is right downtown, if you hang out long enough (and by that I mean a few seconds) you’re bound to run into someone you know and possibly even like.

Cafe Haiti

Geirsgata 5C, 101 Reykjavík

This is another case of nice vibe and OK tea. Cafe Haiti is right by the old harbor and has a whimsical ocean theme going on and the chocolate cake is tasty. That said, my tea was served as hot water in a tea cup, with a tea bag on the side. It’s a common tea-serving/making problem in cafes in Iceland but, as I said about Stofan, the atmosphere and location make up for the lack of exceptional tea.

There you have it folks, the tea hot spots of Reykjavík (*whispers* and Hafnafjörður). Check them out if you’re in town. Tell them Lydia sent you. They’ll have no idea who I am but it will make you seem quirky and memorable and possibly get you an even better cup of tea…and a bigger slice of cake.