My trip to Iceland two weeks ago was full of a lot of touring and seeing some pretty wicked things, along with eating some interesting food so much so that I didn’t have as much time as I would of liked to enjoy the finer things that Iceland has to offer, like their beer. I did spend one night enjoying it though.
The following are some of my tips on how to enjoy yourself in Iceland, aka have a few drinks, aka get drunk
1. Buy beer/wine/alcohol at the Duty Free shops in the airport before you exit the baggage claim area.
As soon as I decided I would go to Iceland I was immediately told by a few people that whatever I do make sure I buy my beer / alcohol at the Duty free in the airport as it was more than twice the cost in the stores in the town as the government taxes by alcohol percentages. Not knowing if I would party the whole time there or if I would have a chance to at all I went straight for the beer and purchased a 6-pack of tall boys for less than 2,000isk which is roughly $16.00 ouch! You can buy one tall boy for $2 to 2.50 Canadian at home (but of course its not Icelandic beer) and this was me buying it where its cheaper, I can’t even imagine what they pay for it in the real stores. (Tip: Drink purchased beer with Americans in their hotel room after the brewery tour and odd food dinner before going out on the town with locals – continue reading so this tip makes sense.)
Up until this point, since I was staying in a hotel and not a hostel, I hadn’t really socialized with too many other travelers and then I jumped on a tour bus to the brewery with nine lovely Americans. We arrived at the Ölgerðin brewery (Öl = Ale, gerðin = maker) sat down and were immediately given our first beer called “Gull”. I have been on a many a brewery tour in my life (including the Alexander Keiths brewery tour at least six times) and I know that if you want to get your moneys worth you don’t just sip the beer, you have to be a serious drinker. The minute I finished my beer the girl giving our tour filled me up, while most people were still only half way through their first. Filming was sadly not allowed on the tour (boooo) however she told us the history of beer and alcohol in Iceland (more details to come in a later post). However the gist of it is Icelanders have only been allowed to have beer since 1989 and before then they would put vodka and Brenevin (aka black death) into their near bear to make it more enjoyable, so of course they made us try beer with that in it like they use to, but then also we were served shots of the nasty Brenevin. As soon as I got my shot I knocked it back before everyone else… oops…. the girl noticed and said “No we must all shoot it together” and poured me another (darnit) which I gladly shot with them. A few more interesting drinks later and the tour was over and I was good to go.
3. Eat food that comes with obligatory shots
A delicacy in Iceland is fermented shark (Hákarl), (well at least thats what the tourists are told) and its a must for everyone to eat when you visit. The shark comes with an obligatory shot of schnapps aka Brenevin black death…. ugh. However this shark was so disgusting I wouldn’t of wanted to chug it down with anything else, the deathly taste of the Brenevin quickly hid the almost-made-me-throw-up-three-times taste that was in my mouth from the amonia smelling shark. But it was another shot of something (sucess!)
While fact checking for this post I am happy to find out that Gordon Ramsay himself couldn’t even stomach the stuff and that “Eating hákarl is often associated with hardiness and strength” and I kept it down! woot woot! But I will never ever try that again. NEVER.
(See Tip #1 drink pre-purchased beer in hotel room after dinner before going out on the town)
4. Meet up with some lovely locals
People in Reykjavik don’t usually go out on the town before 1am and some stay out until 6 or 7am. Crazy I know, but these guys really know how to drink and have a good time. Through twitter I met the lovely Inga and Hjortur a married couple that live in Reykjavik and they invited me out for drinks. At this point I didn’t need much more than one and I finished my night off with them two of my fellow American brewery tour friends and a cold glass of Gull while listening to some lovely Icelandic music at Cafe Rosenberg.
5. Stumble back to your accommodations
The next morning I woke up feeling like black death as I shook my fist in the air cursing Brenevin but I think it might of also been the shark, reindeer, foal and puffin that I ate that also may have factored in to the horrible way I felt that morning...
And that is how you get drunk in Iceland. Stay tuned for more posts on Iceland a wicked video or two or three coming from my trip soon!