Reykjavik

I have only a few scattered notes from the trip to Iceland, where I spent a week with a friend and two weeks alone, exploring by day and working remotely from a hostel at night.

 
 
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The Sun Voyager Sculpture, Sólfar, was created by Jon Gunnar Arnason, it faces the sunrise and is meant to be a “dream boat” carrying it’s occupants off to a place of light and hope.

 

Fermented shark, or Kæstur hákarl, is made of a Greenland Shark, the meat from which is poisonous for human consumption until it is processed. Traditionally, the meat was buried under pressure in a sand pit for 6-12 weeks, then cut into strips and dried before consumption.

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Ramen Momo is a tiny hole-in-the wall restaurant that can hold maybe eight at a time — it’s the first and only ramen station in Iceland. It was opened by a Tibetan man, Kunsang Tsering. The only real place to eat is at the bar, and we spent an hour comparing our favorite dumplings and talking about travel in Asia, and he told me some of what it was like to be an immigrant into such an insular culture as Iceland's.

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The first day we spent in Reykjavik, this group of artists were putting on a performance piece — walking painfully slowly through downtown in the rain. We saw them multiple times the day, and none of them spoke, nor did we ever find out the meaning of this piece.

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Harpa Concert Hall’s glass facade was designed to mimic the basalt formations of Iceland’s unique geography. It was designed by Henning Larson Architects and artist Olafur Eliasson, and was in construction during the Icelandic Financial Crisis of 2008 — reported to be the only major construction in existence during that time.

 
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I had the chance to interview ceramicist Kolbrún S. Kjarval, a member of a group of all-female potters and also the granddaughter of Iceland's arguably most famous artist, Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval — who is pictured on an Icelandic krona bank note.

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The other interview was a tour of Omnom Chocolate, Iceland's first bean-to-bar chocolate makers then located in a revamped gas station outside of the main city of Reykjavik. I was led on the tour by Kjartan Gíslason, who was also working in high-end Nordic Cuisine at the time.

 
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Hallgrímskirkja was designed by architect Guðjón Samúelsson in the 1930s, but wasn’t completed until the 1980s. It’s a Lutheran Church, and it’s enormously tall because the church leaders at the time of construction wanted it to outshine the famous Catholic Church of Iceland, Landakotskirkja.