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Reykjavik Travel guide

Now I’m not self proclaiming that I’m worthy of hipster status but I can appreciate an 80’s bomber jacket, graffiti as art and smashed avocado as a brunch staple so I think I can offer a thing or two about Reykjavik and what it has to offer.

It’s a cool place (excuse the pun!) that isn’t trying too hard. That’s hipster in itself right?!

Pretty streets, cool shopping boutiques and cafes in abundance, it’s a great place to stroll around and not doesn’t have to be a stopping point en route to the wider country. Here are some top tips for your stay..

View Point…

The Church of Hallgrimur is the icon of this city. Walking towards it along the vibrant streets will take some time as you will want to stop for lots of pics! You can head inside and walk to the top tower to see beautiful views of Reykjavik’s colourful rooftops and further out to sea. The design was intended to resemble the natural landscape or Iceland with its ice caps, volcanoes and basalt columns. It’s a must see landmark in the city.

Insta Shot…

This was an easy decision and it just has to be the Harpa, the striking Concert Hall and Conference centre and recipient of the prestigious Mies Van Der Rohe award for architecture. It is situated in the heart of the city and features stunning views of snowy mountains and across the Ocean. Wander inside and take a good look at the different light that the centre draws to it. There are shops that offer Nordic designed crafts and gifts. We didn’t watch a concert but I’d love to check out the listings if I was heading back.

Something different…

For a population of just 320,000 people, Iceland has produce chart topping music from well known, respected artists Björk, Sigur Ros and Of Monsters and Men to name just a few. Reykjavík feels like the beat of the country and is home to a buzzing live music scene. Café Rosenberg was our favourite evening choice playing live jazz and some of Iceland’s breakthrough bands. An awesome stop during the daytime has to be Kaffe Vinyl, a new bar/cafe and record store. It wouldn’t look too out of place in Dalston and also hosts live performances in the evening.

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Something active..

So Iceland is renowned for its hot water springs but what about its cold water swimming! Not to be put off by ‘ice’ being the former syllable in the country’s name and being quite used to a cold lake or sea swim training for triathlons in UK’s great excuse for a summer I was quite up to the challenge. Close to Reykjavík town is the Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, where the sea temperature can reach minus 2 degrees in the winter. After a very short swim attempt, when actually deemed a terrible time of year to try it we committed ourselves to the hot springs close by. All year round, people enjoy the use of the geothermal beach’s hot-tubs, steam-bath, changing facilities and showers, even when the water drops below freezing. Whichever you choice it’s a great addition to a stay in Reykjavík.

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Something to eat…

So when we think of a hipster, what culinary choice often comes to mind is street food, or pop-up style, cheap and inventive food in a minimal setting. This could not be a better choice for a pricey country. We tried Icelandic Street Food, considered the first fast food concept in Iceland with traditional Icelandic food. It is a family owned business with recipes made from the owner’s Grandmother. He was in attendance on the evening we visited and pointed out that his Grandmother had made the cakes, which meant we just had to try them! I tried the seafood soup, and ordered a can of beer. This came to less than £20 so still expensive but much more reasonable than other options, and a lot more tasty than an overpriced spaghetti Bolognese.

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Something to drink…

Named after two Icelandic words for birch, Birkir (birch schnapps) and Björk (birch liqueur) are a fantastic showcase of native Icelandic ingredients.

Birkir, the stronger of the two at 35%, has a boozy and earthy aroma and mixes well with soda water or tonic for an easygoing cocktail. We bought some at the airport to take advantage of cheaper prices. Most of the rest of the team we enjoyed a beer or two!

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Something interesting…

I’d recommend a city tour with I Heart Reykjavik. They take you to their own favourite places in the city centre and teach you a few words of Icelandic. This is a great tour to get an overview and introduction to the city. I was amazed to see so much awesome graffiti art dotted around!

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My next post will share some of my favourite stops along the Golden Circle.

Have a great weekend all.

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CityGirl x

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Cheers to Champagne – Travel Guide

Champagne is the closest wine region to drive to from London so what better place to enjoy a sophisticated road trip with friends. It took us 8 hours on a leisurely drive and watching the French countryside pass us by was all part of the adventure. Champagne houses and the pretty French towns of Epernay and Reims were a delight to witness and the whole weekend felt like a chic, giggly and tipsy getaway. Where else in the world can you walk along the Avenue de Champagne and sample some of the greatest fizz on Earth.. So I say cheers to that. Here are some top tips..

View point…

Not only does the Notre Dame in Reims boast an amazing view as you walk towards it, a climb to the top of the Tower gives a beautiful view of the city. All of the steps to get there are well worth the effort. It’s a great view and a unique chance to see the architectural details and superstructure up close.

Insta shot..

There are lots of opportunities to take photos of thousands of bottles stack up in the champagne caves. These cellars are miles long and have existed for centuries which makes them remarkable to observe whilst learning about the process of champagne making.

Something different..

We noticed that although Reims has a quiet small-town feel, the evening plays host to quite a few rock music bars and events. For a great experience meeting the local crowd here I’d venture to Meltdown. Serving traditional saucisson as a bar snack which I’d recommend trying with a  Liqueur de menthe which is also a popular regional beverage.

Something active..

There are a few tour operators that organise bike rides between the champagne cellars in Epernay, along Avenue de Champagne, and further afield along country roads and past pretty vineyards. Just be careful to not drink too much Champagne before riding back.

Something to drink..

This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise but I think we’d have to choose Champagne! My favourite tour and champagne in the region was Tattinger. We thought the tour was the most informative, and personally thought the champagne itself offered the best taste to cost balance. We ended up taking some bottles home with us  – and enjoyed quite a few with dinner.

Something to eat..

A beautiful restaurant that I’d recommend booking in advance is Le Millenaire. It has a contemporary setting and an inventive menu. It’s a chance to feel glam and enjoy champagne in a perfect setting. this michelin starred restaurant is an ideal way to celebrate an evening in Champagne.

Something interesting..

The Villa Demoiselle is neighbour to the Pommery cellars and it’s an incredible sight – and well worth taking your camera for.  As the flagship of a blend of Art nouveau and Art déco, Villa Demoiselle was built in the early 1900’s by the architect Louis Sorel. Stop off here for a glass of champagne and marvel at the beautiful surroundings.

Enjoy, City Girl