Reykjavik Centrum Hotel in Reykjavik – What a great hotel only opened in 2005 with part of it situated in a building dating back to 1764. Perfectly situated right in Reykjavik centre overlooking Parliament Square but on the right side of the square to distance yourself from noise. Reykjavik is a party town and at weekends can get very noisy!
Restaurants are close by with a very quirky one just across the square, though the hotel has the Uppsalir Bar & Bistro with special lunch and dinner offers, as well as their claim of being one of the best happy hours in town between 5-7pm!!
The Team are friendly and helpful and there are 2 styles of rooms. Modern and the more traditional feel with panelling. Both have a great feel and space, but for me the more traditional ones had the edge. The Museum next door should have been their car park but as they were digging it out Viking remains were found and so it was converted into a museum with the quirky name Reykjavik 871 +/- 2 which of course relates to the date of the exhibits! As a result Car Parking is Metered Parking on the street – though it is free at night (please check locally in case this changes!).
And if you are looking for a quirky local restaurant just across the square is The Icelandic Bar which offers traditional Icelandic ware in an authentic laid back atmosphere with plenty of old style photos. On offer are Puffin, Reindeer and Minke Whale though less controversial fish stews and lamb are also on offer. The Creamy Seafood soup is excellent and filling. Starters are @ 2,000 isk and main courses range from 3 – 4,000 isk.
To see our Iceland breaks
When we walked outside Reykjavik airport and saw the light aircraft before us, the excitement started to build. It is pretty much a rule of thumb that boarding a light aircraft means an awesome adventure is on the cards. The anticipation of venturing to a far off icy land was mounting, as we flew over the ocean towards the world’s largest icecap. One of the best decisions of the trip was to book window seats, as the view was extraordinary. The rocky volcanic landscape was soon replaced by vast ocean, as we flew steadily north-west, across the Arctic Circle, towards the edge of East Greenland. The scene from our tiny airplane window was truly breath-taking. Massive icebergs scattered across the water like a giant jigsaw puzzle, flanked by towering snow topped glaciers meandering to the sea, cutting a path across an untouched white blanket. Tiny freshwater lakes showcasing a broad palette of brilliant blue and green waters, like paint stains on a white canvas. It took an hour to cross the ice sheet from east to west, the snow so white that sunglasses couldn’t bar the blinding glare off the unpolluted, untouched snow. A true polar wilderness.
When the longest road in the area is a 10 minute drive from the airport to the town, you realise how remote you really are. The clear blue skies and warming sun was a welcoming surprise, as being 69 degrees north you think you would be entering a world of fur coats, not sunglasses and t-shirts! Home to a mere 4,000 people, Greenland’s third most populated settlement is a true gem for scenic vistas. Perched on the edge of fjord slopes, wooden houses in red, blue and green look out to the sea, towards the giant icebergs on the horizon. An ancient 18th century church overlooking the fjord provides the perfect postcard photo opportunity, its dark wood exterior starkly contrasting the pure white bergs behind.
Hotel Arctic grandly overlooks the town and bay, with sea views from the rooms which are impressive enough to keep anyone from wanting to sleep. Looking out the window, a dozen Siberian huskies lounge on the rocks, the only thing between you and the vast expanse that is the bay. One lifts its head towards the sky and howls, breaking the silence. These magnificent dogs command respect and awe. The icebergs drift serenely and silently with the evening tide. I close my eyes and breathe in the cool, crisp Arctic air, feel the cold wind gently brush past my face, the warm summer sun radiating on me. The occasional howl from a husky and the gentle lapping of the water is most soothing. You truly feel like you are in a distant wilderness that must be appreciated. Global Warming is changing the landscape at an unprecedented rate, yet as I look out to the sea, time seems to slow and worldly problems seem almost insignificant. This is a place to visit to get perspective, clear your head, and think about what is important in life. Whilst looking out at one of the world’s greatest views of course!
And all this beauty and emotion is before we even started any of the activities that we had planned!!; Whale Watching boat cruises in amongst the Icebergs, The Calving Glacier of Equip, Kayaking amongst the Icebergs, Broadwalk Hike to the Unesco protected Sermmiut Icebergs, Midnight sun Iceberg Cruise!! To see the Greenland under the Midnight Sun break we went on
With Brexit now confirmed we wanted to update you. Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein has changed.
You may need to renew your British passport earlier than you anticipated if you’re travelling after Brexit. The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 3 months needed.
Please see a link below with further details and also a link for you to check your specific passport
For many travelling on the Venice Simplon Orient Express is on their bucket list and is a “Once in a Lifetime Special Experience”. For me I thought it would be an outstanding way to travel between two fabulous cities, but I did not expect the journey to be as unusual and as special as it was. I had not prepared myself to “step into another world”, and to enjoy the 24 hours as much as I did.
Your Steward will escort you to your cabin and whilst you settle into your home for the next 24 hours ease yourself into the mood with a glass of Prosecco.
It is a very different atmosphere from the busy, often manic, lives that many of us live. On the Venice Simplon Orient Express you will be forced to unwind and as a result have the time to enjoy beautiful craftsmanship, indulgent service and unexpected companionship.
Many people leave their cabin doors open during the journey in the daytime. Partly it is so as to not miss the scenery on the other side, but it is also a different way of “living”. There is a real companionship on the train and you will see people leaning in to have a chat as they pass by. It would feel positively rude to close your cabin door for the first couple of hours.
The food is quite exceptional. Right from the delicate afternoon tea that is served in your cabin by your Steward, to the exquisite dinners that are freshly prepared and served from the tiny kitchens, to the scrumptious croissants that you can eat whilst still in bed in the morning.
There is a wonderful amiable atmosphere in the 3674 bar carriage. This is where you are encouraged to dress up and you will see the range of 20’s flapper dresses with feather boas, black tie, Scottish Trewsers and sparkly full length dresses as well as the more usual suits and cocktail dresses. The pianist plays all the great classic hits such as “New York New York” on his baby grand piano and occasionally someone will burst into song to accompany. It almost has a jazz club feel.
This carriage is popular pre and post dinner and as people walk down with the train gently rocking you will find yourself “handed along” so that you don’t stumble. The carriage is lined with sofas and padded stools either side and you will quickly find people making space for you and yourself engaged in conversations with them.
Travelling on the Venice Simplon Orient Express does feel like “going back in time” – not only in style of the carriages but in how people act. The atmosphere facilitates connection and conversation. The fact that telephones are frowned upon in the restaurant and bar carriages means people instead engage with each other. I wasn’t able to make the WiFi work in my cabin, and for me this was a joy as it meant I could truly relax into the rhythm of the train.
There is a very special atmosphere that is hard to explain , but it felt very “in the moment” and your focus was totally on what was happening on the train, and what you could see through the window. Past and future issues were parked as you focused on your train community.
The recent “Murder on the Orient Express” movie did not fully show the glory and beauty of the Venice Simplon Orient Express train with it’s inlaid marquetry and Lalique glass, but it did showcase how the train “becomes a world and community” in its own right. In this day and age anything that can trigger that openness and willingness to engage and connect with strangers is to be treasured.
There are many different journeys that can be undertaken on the Venice Simplon Orient Express. I would personally recommend the Venice to Prague, Venice to Budapest or Venice to Vienna route as you have longer on the Orient Express train as the full journey is on the Orient Express train, rather than connecting with British trains (as the train is not allowed to run through the EuroTunnel), and you have 2 wonderful cities to visit and explore either side of the journey.
For most the pull of the Unesco protected Sermermiut Icebergs, the calving Equi Glacier, and watching whales under the midnight sun are the main pulls for going to Greenland in the summer, and the Husky Sledding, Snowmobiling and Northern Lights are the reasons given in the winter.
However there are some other activities that we would recommend you also do whilst in Ilulissat in Greenland to add richness to your Greenland holiday.
The Kaffemik short visit to a local family is much loved by our guests – Luc explains why:
Visiting a Greenlandic family home and being part of the traditional “Kaffemik” gives the unique opportunity to experience this local tradition in a close and cozy environment, whilst enjoy a hot drink and delicious cake.
“Kaffemik” is an expression for the openness and solidarity of the people in Greenland – it combines the celebration of important festivities with the need of companionship. A Greenlandic “Kaffemik” is the perfect place to enjoy a good cup of coffee and meet a local family in a homely setting.
You will leave the “Kaffemik” with a filled stomach and many impressive stories about the daily life in Greenland.
It is a great opportunity to ask about the local customs and to understand current Greenland culture and ways of life. This 1 hr excursion has proved popular as an insight into the “Greenland Way”.
Click here to see our range of Midnight Sun breaks in Greenland and our Icebergs and Northern Lights adventure in the winter in Greenland