A Day in the City of Reykjavik at the Local Flea Market

HON195 Student Post: Katie Tewksbury, Linguistics Major; Honors Minor, ASL Minor

Career Goals: Speech Pathologist

A Day in the City of Reykjavik at the Local Flea Market

Giggles leaped from booth to booth as children played tag– ducking under booths and racing through the aisles of the Kolaportid Flea Market in Reykjavik, Iceland. The nostalgic atmosphere reminded me of when I used to accompany my parents to the flea market back home in Rhode Island. Our morning bus ride into down town Reykjavik was filled with exciting whispers and eagerness about what the flea market experience would be like. People shouted from one end of the bus to the other “I can finally get my family all their gifts today”, “I can’t wait to try fermented shark!” (yes really), and many other desires for today’s adventure. This chain reaction of commotion filled the van with an exciting energy that made for a promising start to our day.

Once the van dropped us off in front of the Harpa Music Hall we made our way to the flea market. On our way through the streets of the city, walking past a cobblestone corner there was a tent set up with jewelry on the inside tables, which caught our attention. There were three warmly dressed blonde haired women sipping from their hot coffees to stay warm. The lava bracelets around in the gift shops we have visited have been priced anywhere between 50-80 U.S dollars– so it was relieving to finally find some that my friends and I could all afford. The woman who handmade all the jewelry gave us a warm welcome and even discounts on our purchases, saying she understood how tight money can be as a college student. After having this great opening act made us even more enthusiastic about reaching the market.

Once we reached the building everyone was so immersed in different tables that we actually all split up to savor a more riveting one-on-one experience in something that wasn’t considered a tourist attraction and there were, for once, more locals than tourists at an Icelandic event. As I walked through the alleyways and weaved through people left and right I found so many booths to be selling things all the way from lava rock jewelry to books, movies, and even children’s bicycles. All the booths were stocked high with goods. My favorite part about the market was the food section, no surprise there. Samples upon sample starting with fish cakes topped with Paprika and a dessert section with samples of Icelandic Christmas cake! This was a personal favorite of my friend Lexi and I, so we bought an entire case to bring home for dessert that night. The warm gingerbread layered with frosted cream created a tall thick and delicious treat!

Christmas Cake!


As I swam deeper through the sea of people I came across the famous Hakarl– also known as fermented shark. Fermented shark is such an interesting delicacy because the shark you’re eating was actually caught six months ago and was buried under ground with rocks to squeeze out the toxins in the shark’s skin. These toxins are there because sharks excrete their urea through their skin which is why shark [meat] is so full of toxins that need to be pressed out. After this six-month time period the shark is brought up sliced and diced and is served today mostly as a tourist attraction rather than a popular meal at a restaurant. After trying my pungent sample of the shark I can assure you it is definitely something to try only once, to be able to say you did it of course.

Hakarl Samples


After the lively and festive flea market my friend Emma Cost and I decided we wanted to get some hot wieners for a late lunch before it was time to get back on the bus. The downtown “Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur”– translated in English as “The Best Sausages In Town”, are a famously cheap meal for anyone looking for a quick bite to eat– no promises on a short line though because of their popularity with not only the locals but with tourists as well.

Feed the puffins! Tip jar at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

After eating our lunch Emma and I began our walk back to the Harpa Music Hall to wait for the van, but a world traveling street performer reeled in an entire audience to observe his basketball talents. His comedic talents and dribbling skills provoked encore upon encore from the cheering fans. I was even able to take part in this act by throwing in a basketball as he did a trick of dribbling and juggling all three balls at the same time.

After boarding the bus and coming back to Geocamp, located in Keflavik, we enjoyed some pizza and ice cream while discussing the internationally recognized novel Fish Have No Feet by Jón Kalman Stefánsson. We compared this book to our stay in Keflavik as the beginning of the book takes place right here in town and even mentions the former Naval base where Geocamp is [located]. During this discussion Ása, one of the Geocamp staff, thought it was an interesting topic due to all of the opinions people have of Keflavik. It is said to be an ugly boring place compared to the rest of Iceland’s beautiful scenery. Ása informed us all during the discussion that she grew up in the city of Reykjavik and moved here to Keflavik when she was eighteen. All of her friends told her she was crazy to leave the beautiful and energetic city to move to boring old Keflavik. She proceeded to tell us it was the smartest thing she could have done back then; it was cheaper, especially for a college student paying rent and tuition. Ása and many other students stayed in Keflavik while attending Reykjavik University because of the cheaper housing and would commute to class everyday. Ása finished her speech by telling us that people used to think Keflavik was an uneducated place, but they were wrong, it was up and coming, home to many college students who are receiving an education.  

As I lay in bed restless for the excitement of what adventures will come tomorrow I stare out my window at the darkless sky filled with peachy tones splashed across the horizon. I think about all the thrilling and intriguing places we’ve visited here in Iceland and in return I continue to absorb the everyday knowledge the Icelandic culture is teaching me. Every single occurrence whether it’s Seljalandsfoss, the indescribable breath-taking waterfalls we’ve seen every angle from, hiking up a volcano, or just a simple encounter on the streets of Reykjavik, I am learning something new each and every day, and for that I am most thankful for.



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