Midnight in Reykjavík

The Guesthouse Óðinn in Reykjavík—At Midnight Around the Summer Solstice

The first time I visited Iceland, in 2001, I went in June. In 2013, I went again—this time in June so that I could see “The Land of the Midnight Sun” for myself. My first day back in Reykjavík, I deliberately stayed up late. I believe it turned out to be a 32-hour day, as the whole country is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). It turned out to be a day and evening crowded with sights:

  • I took a harbor tour to see the puffins
  • Twice, I stopped in at Bæjarins Bestu for their famous pylsur (that’s hot dogs in Icelandic)
  • I discovered pear-flavored skyr (like yogurt) at a market on Austurvöllur
  • I had a delicious and leisurely fish dinner at the Fish Company on Vesturgata
  • As a lover of Icelandic Sagas, I visited the Culture House on Hverfisgata to see the original manuscripts
  • I toured the Settlement Exhibition, which is an archeological dig of one of the first settlements in the city dated around AD 871
  • Finally, I took a ghost walking tour of Reykjavík, including the cemetery on Suðurgata

After the walking tour, I was good and tired, but I knew that I didn’t want to hit the sack until after midnight local time to minimize the jet lag. (That actually worked.) Secondly, I wanted to see when it started to get dark. I wasn’t about to stay up until 3 am local time, but I did snap a picture of my bed & breakfast right around midnight. Fortunately, the guesthouse had good blackout curtains, so I was able to drift off within minutes of hitting the pillow.


Midnight in Iceland

My Room on the Top Floor of the Guesthouse Óðinn at Midnight in June 2013

Now that we are fast approaching the darkest time of the year, my mind turns to my visit to Iceland in June 2013. In that Land of the Midnight Sun, I stayed out until midnight. When I returned to the Guesthouse Óðinn in Reykjavík around midnight, I snapped this picture. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep with all the light, but fortunately the guesthouse had good blackout curtains (which you can see on the upper left of the third floor in the above photo).

My first day in Reykjavík was a long one. My Icelandair flight from Toronto arrived early in the morning. I had to busy myself for eighteen straight hours before turning in. Otherwise, I would have awakened in the middle of the night—rarin’ to go. That way I managed to minimize the jet lag which otherwise would have bedeviled me. It was a good thing, too, because the next day I had an all day tour of the Golden Circle (Þingvellir, Gullfoss, Geyser, and the geothermal power plant at Hellisheiði on the return to Reykjavík.).


Running Around in the Land of the Midnight Sun

My Guesthouse in Reykjavik at 11 pm

My Guesthouse in Reykjavik at 11 pm

My first day in Iceland began with my arrival at Keflavík Airport around 6:30 am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). (I should add that it is not Daylight Savings Time, which is not needed when it’s light 24 hours a day.) In Los Angeles time, it was only 11:30 pm on the previous day. I knew that my sleep pattern would be massively disrupted if I tried to hit the sack at that point.

What I did was to go all over the place so I wouldn’t sleep until around 11 pm GMT. To that end, here is a partial listing of what I did on the first day:

  1. The first stop was the excellent information center of The Icelandic Travel Market at Bankastræti 2, where I picked up a 3-day Reykjavík Welcome Card and some local bus schedules.
  2. In 2001, I never got a chance to visit the original saga manuscripts; so I took care of that right away by stopping in at The Culture House.
  3. Then I walked over to the city’s famous hot dog stand: Bæjarins Beztu and got eina pylsur með öllu (what they call a hot dog with everything). Very tasty!
  4. Then it was off to the old port to book a Sea Adventures puffin tour by boat to the Isle of Lundey (“Puffin Island”) in Faxafloi Bay.
  5. I had some time to kill, so it was off to the Settlement Museum, also known as Reykjavík 871±2, where I saw the ruins of one of the original farmhouses from the 9th century A.D.
  6. I hung around the Old Harbor waiting for the puffin tour, which I loved.
  7. Next: Get a great fish dinner, using my Reykjavík Welcome card 10% discount at The Fish Company, where I dined on arctic char and other Icelandic fish delicacies. It was what my British friends would call “splashing out,” but it was worth every penny!
  8. That put me in the mood for GoEcco’s Haunted Walk of Reykjavik at 8:00 pm local time.

By the time the Haunted Walk ended around 10:30 pm, I was feeling a bit haunted myself; so I trudged back to the Guesthouse Odínn, ready to hit the sack.

The Sack

The Sack

I expected to have trouble dealing with the sun being up 24 hours on the longest day of the year, so I had purchased a sleep mask. All that did was make my head sweat, so I decided I would just deal with it. I laid it aside, never to pick it back up, and sank into a deep, dreamless sleep. I woke briefly around 3:00 am and saw the sun still up. Having warn myself out with all my running around, I had no trouble sinking back into sleep.