So, I have been attempting for more than a month now to write about my Iceland experience over the Christmas holiday. Between dealing with some sudden heavy depression (which rendered me useless save for going to work), and WAY over thinking my writing, I was not being very successful in creating this post. I realized over the past couple days however, all of that has been completely counter intuitive of the purpose of this blog; simplicity and peace.
Immediately upon arriving in Reykjavik, I noticed something which I do not typically experience among the hustle of my every-day life. Serenity. Calm. Silence. Things of that nature. After being surrounded by city noise, nonstop media sensory overload, and getting into an argument with some pony-tailed hippie in the security line at Portland international airport about throwing my water bottle in the trash can, the stillness when I stepped off the Flybus onto a snow-covered parking lot was almost overwhelming.
It was only 8am on Christmas Eve. All the shops were still closed and I immediately noticed their window displays were almost completely devoid of holiday sale ads. A dimly lit stringed instrument repair shop was playing soft classical music through inconspicuous speakers to the empty city sidewalks. Suddenly, life felt sacred again as I stared into the shop window at the surgeon’s table. Perfectly placed hand tools awaiting steady fingers to tend to a patient in disrepair; an aged, but charming violin. It seemed mystical, and I could already tell there was something very different about this place.
A couple hours later, after meeting up with my lovely travel companion, I was enjoying a decadent breakfast of toast with butter, orange marmalade, and swiss cheese with a Swiss mocha at a cozy spot called Mokka Kaffi. This, followed by a frustrating quest to find and access our Air B&B, and we were finally settled in and ready to see the city just after noon. During the commotion of trying to access the apartment, the owner explained to us that Christmas Eve is the beginning of the most sacred of holidays in Iceland; three days of Christmas. The shops and cafes were mostly closed. The restaurants which remained open placed a lit candle on their front steps as a signal to passersby.
After exploring the streets of Reykjavik for a couple hours, we decided on a wonderful restaurant called Mezze, where we enjoyed warm Christmas wine and Viking beer, fresh Salmon with veggies and an unexpectedly heaping plate of lobster tails (eight lobster tails to be exact). The staff at Mezze explained to us that it is almost damn near illegal to be open after six o’clock p.m. on Christmas eve, and that the restaurants must pay an extra fee to remain operational for the holy night. I cannot explain how refreshing it was to experience a Christmas untainted by the chaos of consumerism and greed. After dinner, we went to the local grocery to get enough food to make a nice Christmas breakfast, then returned to our Air B&B to watch some holiday movies and open the few gifts we had brought for one another (opening gifts on Christmas eve being tradition in Iceland).
The next couple days were full of charming coffee shops, snowball fights, and strolls along the boulder covered beach; once interrupted by a freak snow storm which blew through without warning. After having to walk backward to avoid a sudden barrage of ice shards in my face, I can tell you the erratic changes in weather in Iceland is by no means a myth or an exaggeration. Nonetheless, Iceland simply radiates peace. You can feel it in the air, hear it in the music, see it in the art. I spent a good portion of the last day taking pictures of the beautiful murals and colorful houses which lined the streets. I could not get enough of the city. Even though I was only there a short time, I had fallen in love. I was sad to go, and hope to return soon.
Immediately upon returning to Seattle I was met with a wall of intense energy and big city anxiety. I didn’t know it was possible to experience culture shock after such a short time, but it was happening. I was suddenly back in the throes or regular life; the peace was gone… For months before the trip I had forgotten to take breaks from my chaos to find my peace and after two months since returning of sloth, self-pity, and guilt from being irrationally unmotivated, I realized the piece of my life that’s been missing, is peace.
Tell me, where or how do you find your peace? (comment below)
Vaya con Dios,
Some of our favorite services and places we went to in Reykjavik:
Of course, Flybus
and last but certainly not least, Icelandair