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Rye Flatbread newly baked

Rye Flatbread is a traditional Icelandic food and definitely one of the top ten foods to try in Iceland. Every time I ask Valur if he needs anything from the store the answer is always flatbread. He really loves it and actually, so do I and our three year old. It‘s a part of our everyday diet. We have it with butter and cheese or butter and smoked lamb. I had it once with both and that really got Valur going. Cheese and smoked lamb together – how could I! Well honestly, that and so much more is excellent on flatbread. Restaurants are starting to appreciate it in greater numbers, offering it with various salads, smoked salmon and more.

In our Reykjavik Food Tour, we stop by Reykjavik Flea Market: the Kolaportið, if the tour is on during the weekend (As the flea market is only open from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday’s and Sunday’s). You can read our blog about the Kolaportið here. There we have rye flatbread with butter and smoked lamb and you can also buy some in the food stalls, as well as many other traditional Icelandic delicacies.

Rye Flatbread is the poor man‘s bread. It is a thin rounded bread traditionally made only with rye and water. Sometimes barley or moss instead of rye. Rye has little gluten and lacks lifting qualities making the bread only about 2 millimeters thick, which explains the name flatbread. Prior to modern cooking methods, the bread was baked in a pot or directly on a stove. The bread is round shaped and is normally cut in half or four pieces. Today other ingredients have been added such as flour, salt, and even sugar.

The Icelandic Rye Flatbread goes back centuries  – even back to the settlement of Iceland in 874 AD. The Icelandic climate is not favorable to growing corn so the bread was not a big part of the Icelandic diet. People had butter on dried fish, not bread (and we still do sometimes!). But Rye can be grown in cold climates. That is why flatbread was so common and has very strong roots in our culture. For example, it plays a big part in the Thorrablót, the Icelandic mid-winter festivals. The festivals are held across the country throughout the month of Thorri, which begins on Husband’s Day in January and ends on Woman’s Day in February.

If you like to try it just pop into the next grocery shop. With a bit of luck, you can find it in some cafes and restaurants. Or simply join our Reykjavik Food Tour!

BlueLagoon1

Most people travelling to Iceland visit the Blue Lagoon, and no wonder, it is a pretty unique place. The lagoon has a unique composition and consists of three active ingredients, Silica, Algae and Minerals, all supposedly good for you, particularly your skin. The Blue Lagoon is surrounded with dark sandy mountains and fields of lava which creates a beautiful contradiction to the blue bright colour of the lagoon.

  1. The Blue Lagoon is only 20 minutes from Keflavik Airport. If you are arriving at daytime its perfect to visit before heading to Reykjavik. You can store all your luggage there for 4€.
  2. It can get pretty busy so make sure you book tickets in advance. It would be a real disapointment to show up and not get in.
  3. The Blue Lagoon affects your hair. Depending on your hair type and how sensitive you are about it, you might want to use a shower cap or just keep your head and hair out of the water. The Silica in the water is not harmful to your hair but it can get stiff and difficult to manage. There is conditioning in the showers to help but it might take a few washes though.
  4. The rules are clear, you have to wash without your bathingsuit before entering the lagoon. The same thing applies in all swimming pools in Iceland. We locals get really upset when tourists don’t follow these rules so please – don’t be a dirty tourist!
  5. You can rent a towel and a bathingsuit in case you don‘t have your own for 5€ each. You can also rent a bathrobe for 10€ and slippers for the same price.
  6. If you are travelling with children, make notice that children under the age of two are not allowed in the lagoon. For children the age 2-13 entrance is free and teenagers (14-15 years old) do not pay full price.
  7. Make sure you don‘t wear any jewlery when going in. You will have to polish them up afterwards and if you loose it, it’s highly unlikely that you will find it again. The water is thick and you can barely find your own feet.
  8. There is no public transport to get to the Blue Lagoon but various companies offer pick up including entry fee, guided tours which include the Blue Lagoon or just a return ticket.
  9. Finally, take a deep breath, cover yourself in Silica, and relax. That‘s what the Blue Lagoon is for!

On a different note, here‘s a fun fact for you. The Blue Lagoon is actually not blue, its white. If you poor the water in a cup you will see its real colour, but because of the daylight the lagoon appears blue.

Now you go enjoy yourself and hopefully we will see you in the city.