Happy New Year: Looking back on 2012

Image via Iceland Naturally

Image via Iceland Naturally

As I sit here on New Years Day in Reykjavík, with the boyfriend sleeping in the next room with a flu and the princess watching some cartoon for the 7000th time, I can’t help but feeling very blessed and thankful for the awesome life I have made for myself and the people I’ve chosen to spend it with. We are not rich people (despite our best efforts buying lottery tickets every now and again), our house is a mess and our car on the brink of extinction; but we don’t lack anything and we have each other. I know it sounds like something out of a made-for-TV family drama but it’s really the only way to describe how I feel. Quitting my job, learning how to live off a single income and enrolling for classes I have been too scared to take for years due to lack of belief in myself has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Has it all worked out perfectly? No. Does it matter? No, because it is true what they say about it being about the journey and not the destination.

This image doesn't have anything to do with this post per se - it's just the family's first  Christmas tree and I'm in love with it. We made the ornaments ourselves

This image doesn’t have anything to do with this post per se – it’s just the family’s first Christmas tree and I’m in love with it. We made the ornaments ourselves

One of the things I’ve learned this year is that in the long run, material things is not what is going to make you happy in life. It’s the connections with the people in your life, no matter how briefly they remain in it. I was reminded of that last night when I sat in my living room with 6 complete strangers who we had invited to our home to experience the Icelandic New Year. In a tiny way we helped make their trip to Iceland a more memorable and rewarding experience (or so I hope at least) and maybe we have inspired them to do the same for someone visiting their hometown in the future. From our side it’s also a privilege to be able to expose the princess to different people and cultures in our own home, knowing that she will be a better person for it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that when I’m asked why I do this, why I put time and effort into maintaining this blog, this is the reason. The small impact I have on how people experience my city, brief encounters with interesting people and all of you who reach out through the blog, Facebook and Twitter or by sending me an e-mail. I don’t always have the time to answer everything in a timely manner but I read everything and appreciate the thought.

With that said that I think my new years resolution for 2013 should be: More joy, more laughter, more people. I should probably add more posts too.

Now that all this mushiness is over and done with, here are some of the I heart Reykjavík highlights of 2012:

The Icelandic album of the year: Retro Stefson

Retro Stefson

I’ve been a fan of Retro Stefson for a long time and I’ve enjoyed watching them progress and become one of the best live bands in Iceland. Apart from all that hoopla at their live shows, their music has actually evolved nicely too and despite there being many great contenders for the Icelandic album of the year in 2012, their self-titled album Retro Stefson is by far my favorite. I love every song on it, especially the following two.

 

The discovery of the year: Hrísey Island

Tractor Taxi Hrísey Island

Fantastic sight-seeing tour in Hrísey island.

Last July the boyfriend and I rented a car and drove up to the North of Iceland where we enjoyed a few fantastic days of camping. One of the places we visited was Hrísey island, a somewhat big inhabited island in Eyjafjörður, that can be reached by boat from Árskógssandur. I don’t know what it was but I completely fell in love with this island, it’s small village and the tractor taxi that took us around it – telling us all about it’s history and people. It was different from everything I’ve experienced in Iceland and I can’t wait to get back there one day.

By the way, I do have plans to write more about our trip to the North one of these days. It was in one word amazing!

The disappointment of the year: Not finding that plane wreck in Sólheimasandur

Craig later went to find the plane on his own, the biggest betrayal of our friendship, and took this photo. I’m not jealous or anything.Craig, I’m not sorry for stealing your photo.

In May Craig-o and I drove up to Jökulsárlón with a few Couchsurfers. On the way back we went on a hunt for a plane wreck that is supposed to be located somewhere in Sólheimasandur, pictured above, but due to an ill equipped car and lack of GPS coordinates the results were disappointing. We did get a nice walk in the beautiful evening sun so I guess it was not all for nothing but still – would have been good to actually find the plane. Next time!

The best meal of the year: The tasting menu at Grillmarkaðurinn

Image from grillmarkadurinn.is

Yum. Enough said.

The most random but enjoyable visit of the year: Brainwaves and Zombies with Mindgames

Deepa CEO of Mindgames

In January I got the most random message on Twitter where I was invited visit a Reykjavík start-up that had just released a Ipad app where players control what happens with their brainwaves. It was fantastic in two ways: 1) you can actually control stuff with your brainwaves and 2) there are people out there clever enough to come up with that.

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