What is your relationship with Reykjavík?

I‘m a city girl.  Born and raised in Reykjavík, so Reykjavík will always be my hometown. At the same time I still feel that my home is wherever I live at any given moment, a fundamental outlook on life for people who choose diplomacy as their career.

To me, Reykjavík is a collection of memories, especially downtown where both my grandmothers worked, and I used to accompany them sometimes as a kid and visit them when I got older.  Also, several of my aunts and uncles had businesses downtown, and I had a lot of aunts and uncles as my maternal grandmother had 14 siblings. 

Cafe Paris, a place I frequent when in town, used to host a sophisticated clothing store for men owned by one of my uncles.  Every year, on 17th June, the Icelandic National Day, photos of newly graduated college students, proud with their white hats, were on display in the windows of the store.  These photos came from my aunt‘s photo studio,  ASIS, which was well known in town at the time.   


What is your personal recommendation of what to do in Reykjavík?

I find the museum of Einar Jónsson and his sculpture garden magical and one of the many gems of Reykjavik. Looking at it from outside you cannot imagine the treasure it beholds.  If you have time, make way to Elliðaá, which is a salmon river in the middle of the city and experience nature. Have a sweet tooth? Try to get tips from locals on where to get Icelandic cakes, so-called Hnallþóras.   Afterward, you might want to walk off the calories by taking a stroll along the coast at Aegissida in the West part of town „Vesturbaerinn.“  For the brave and unconventional I recommend a swim in the ocean in Nautholsvik.  Many of my friends are really into this these days and claim that the health benefits of swimming in the icy cold water far outweigh the discomfort involved.


A perfect day in Reykjavík

A perfect day would be going for a swim in one of the many pools and then head downtown for a hotdog, which is usually one of the first things I do when I‘m back in Reykjavík.

I would then stroll through Austurvöllur which is by far my favorite place in the city with the statue of Jon Sigurdsson and the crown on top of the Althingishusid (the Parliament) as important reminders to us as a nation, that we have not always been independent.  I also enjoy visiting Icelandic design stores like Spakmannsspjarir and Steinunn. And jewelry stores like Orr which has unique and extravagant pieces and Gudlaugur Magnusson who is more known for designing silver cutlery and the so-called Christmas spoons.  I also pick up souvenirs for friends abroad at Thorvaldsens Bazar in Austurstraeti where I know the proceeds go to a good cause.

Going out to dinner for the Icelandic lamb or lobster and all the flavourful Icelandic veggies is something I always look forward to closing off an eventful day.


What is the oddest thing about Reykjavík? 

The oddest thing about Reykjavík is that the inhabitants look at their city as precisely that, a city like any other capital, despite the size.  With the risk of stereotyping, we think we can do anything. This is why the city vibrates in all areas, not least in the cultural life where we have everything a capital should have. And there is room for all generations, in some cities, for example, you hardly ever see children.

Another odd thing is the ice cream eating all year around.  Whether rain or shine, hot or cold people go out for ice cream for an everyday-treat– we even have a word for it „ísbíltúr“ (ís=icecream, bíltúr = short car ride).