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A Mini Tour of Reykjavik

Harpa, Reykjavik IcelandThe Reykjavik city center is super small and easily explorable in a weekend or a day, if you hustle. It’s reassuring, actually, especially when you think you may have gotten punked via AirBnB. I wrote a food-based preview & recap of the city for the Town Dish, but this is a more general mini tour of Reykjavik. It’s interesting: Since our trip in 2012, there have been so many more “Hipster’s Guides to Reykjavik” and “Best Vintage Shops of Reykjavik”-type blog posts. It’s been great to reflect on what I enjoyed most (which, truth be told, was probably the Blue Lagoon), but I wish I had done this sooner. Without further ado:

Harpa Conference Center — Honeycomb glass walls and ceilings makes this brand new building cozy and warm like a greenhouse. It’s a nice break from the windy waterfront, and we were able to connect to the wifi inside to upload photos to Instagram & check Twitter. Because that’s how I do vacation. There are regular music shows, films, theater, and comedic acts featured here.

Hallgrimskirkja

Hallgrimskirkja — Having studied abroad in Spain, I’m pretty over walking around in fancy cathedrals. I could tell that Hallgrimskirkja would be different, if only by the distinct architecture. The whole building turns into a steeple, which feels like it’s anchoring the whole city. It’s worth the few bucks to take an elevator to the top & check out the amazing views of the city, the water, and the mountains in the distance.

Icelandic hotdogs

Baejarins Beztu Pyslur — The oldest and most popular restaurant in Reykjavik is a legit hot dog stand. People pull over or get dropped off at the curb, and flock to this city staple. Icelandic hotdogs are mixed with lamb. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t stop here more than once an afternoon some days. In general, hot dogs are like drunk food of Iceland and you can get them on any old corner but Baejarins Beztu has the best.

iceland-giraffe

Kolaportid Flea Market — Right near Harpa and Baejarins Beztu, the Kolaportid Flea takes place every weekend. It’s pretty overwhelming. I had a recent flashback while walking around the Punk Rock Flea in Philly last weekend, but the Kolaportid is even bigger and more crowded. Rows after rows of vendors sell everything from vintage clothing, costume jewelry, books, and antiques. We sourced Chad’s handmade Icelandic wool sweater from a sweet elderly woman who had learned Danish instead of English as her second language.

reykjavik-vintage

Fríða Frænka — If you’re into more upscale, pre-curated vintage or antiques, you really can’t miss Fríða Frænka. There’s barely room to turn around, but everything is eye catching so it’s difficult to not get sucked in for hours at a time. If only I had a little Icelandic cottage to furnish and fill with the impressive selection of midcentury modern pieces and unique tchotchkes & textiles. Maybe someday.

Red Cross — I got some treasures I still wear at this second-hand charity shop. I may or may not have purchased a handmade baby sweater for, you know, someday. I also scored my most-treasured Icelandic find here — an Icelandic wool blanket that I’ve relied on over and over again during the Philadelphia winters. It’s seriously one of my favorite things we own.

You can read about the rest of our adventures in Iceland in the archives

…also, there were cats. Lots of them.

cat

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Kermit’s Bake Shoppe — An Impromptu Visit

Kermit's Bake ShoppeI was rushing across town to run an errand in South Philly last week, when I spotted this beautiful painted storefront wall on Washington Avenue. I decided that if I had time on my way back through, I’d stop and check it out.

Kermit's Bake Shoppe sticky buns

Kermit's Bake Shoppe sticky bunsNot stopping was never really an option, to be honest. Baked goods are kind of my jam. It has to do with the Amish Mennonite family and heritage and all.

The beautifully painted exterior lured me in, and the varied menu totally sold me on the new bakery and pizza shop. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory, real meals and dessert. It makes sense, really. A place that makes amazing sticky buns ought to be able to also dominate pizza crust. Though they’d been open less than a week, the lunch crowd quickly confirmed those suspicions — people left carrying pizza boxes and bags filled with sandwiches and hot pockets as well as donuts, cookies, quick savory breads, whoopie pies and fudge.

After much consideration, I settled on an almond-cinnamon poptart, a Kermit Hole cookie, and a piece of vanilla walnut fudge, none of which lasted a very long time after I brought them home.

If you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to swing by soon. Even if it’s a little bit out of the way, Kermit’s is worth the trip.

Kermit's Bake Shoppe Poptart

 

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CR Part 3: Food

Fresh Pineapple in Tamarindo, Costa RicaWhen I think of Costa Rica, I think of coffee, pineapple, dulce de leche, arroz con pollo, fried plantains, Salsa Lizano, and gallo pinto. My missions trip to Costa Rica in 2005 was my first independent travel experience, and I have a special place in my heart for the people, culture, and food.

This time around was no different. I met a wonderful barista named Lorena, ate fresh pineapple, got my hands on some Salsa Lizano to bring back with me, and met a older woman who runs the closest thing to a food truck in Tamarindo. Dona Rosa has been selling casado out of the back of her station wagon for over ten years!

I love eating while traveling, and I’m privileged to be able to write about many of my foodie adventures while traveling for The Town Dish. You can more read about my favorite spots to eat in Tamarindo over at the Dish now.

Do you have favorite places to travel and/or eat while traveling?