REYKJAVIK — Iceland is quickly turning into Europe’s hottest spot for wonderment and geothermal activity. Not only is the country equipped with an emotional landscape full of volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and caves, it also boasts a nightlife on the weekends fit enough for the most modern-day Viking party monsters.
Reykjavik, the capital, is where all the action takes place and it’s only a five hour flight on Icelandair from Boston. There are an array of lively bars and cafes located in the main shopping area on Laugavegur Street and on the roads off of it.
I stayed at the Hotel Fron on Laugavegur and I was less than a block from a handful of bars like Sirkus, Pravda, Oliver’s and Nelly’s Caf©, which is known for having the cheapest beer in Iceland. And believe me I took full advantage of the chance to save. Although the city has a great variety of tourist activities, the price you pay for food and alcohol is sinful.
Viking, a premium golden lager with a hint of malt, maize and hops, is the best selling beer in Iceland, with the draft version being the most popular in the pubs and restaurants. Its lightness and sweet taste caused me to drink so much I think I saw the ghost of Leif Ericson — and that was at 600 kronas ($8) a pint with 5.6 percent alcohol content.
Most locals counter the expensive beer prices by consuming a lot of alcohol at home before they go out. The bars and clubs are open until 5 a.m., so nobody heads out until midnight. Their pre-game drink of choice is Brennivn, a type of schnapps made from potatoes that is referred to as "Black Death." I took a shot of it and I found it to have a bitter taste of Drano with a hint of cardboard.
Going out to eat in Iceland, although expensive, is well worth it. The country has the freshest, untainted fish in the world. The swordfish I sampled at Vegamot was the best I have ever had and the mountain lamb at Caf© Victor was as tender as the hearts of the beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed women I had to break upon my departure back to Beantown.
Between my partying antics and affluent dining habits, I was able to take a few quick day trips with local touring company Reykjavik Excursions. The must-see destinations in Iceland are Blue Lagoon, a luxurious spa with geothermal seawater known for its positive effects on the skin, and The Golden Circle, a collection of historical sites that include The Kerith Volcano Crater, The Gullfoss Waterfall, the geysers of Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park.
With a population just under 300,000, Iceland is one of the least crowded countries in the world. It also has the longest life expectancy, no pollution, and the cleanest drinking water, which you can get right from the tap or even a stream.
For a truly unforgettable vacation you may add Greenland to your Iceland visit. After all, Greenland’s East Coast is only a two hour flight away.
And if all that doesn’t stir your fancy there’s always Bjork. You can pound liters of Viking beer and enjoy the clean air and eternal sunshine while you search for the little musical dwarf and beg her to let you wear her swan dress back to South Boston.
For more information check out the Iceland Tourist Board at www.whatson.is.