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Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

Since COVID-19 first hijacked our lives back in late February/early March I’ve experienced every emotion under the sun. I’ve been sad, angry, scared, happy, relieved, and strangely optimistic – all depending on the day you ask me.

Today’s main course on my smörgasboard of feelings is gratitude.

I started I Heart Reykjavík in 2011 for a multitude of reasons: I wanted to help people, I wanted to prove someone who didn’t believe in my vision wrong and I wanted to show people that I thought mattered that I could make something out of nothing.

As time passed, my goals changed. I went from having a hobby to having staff and thousands of happy customers. I got lost many times but always found my way in the end. I’ve been on a journey – as clichéd and apparently millennial it is of me to say that.

When I look back at this time, there are a few things I’m particularly grateful for.

I’m grateful for the chance to learn so many things I never could have mastered any other way. When I started I knew nothing about running a business and although I strongly believe that you should never stop seeking new knowledge in life or in business, I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.

The person I was in 2011 didn’t have the imagination for aspirations to become who I am today. I’ve exceeded even my wildest expectations for myself and although the events of the last few months sometimes made me doubt myself, I am confident that I am someone who has a lot to offer in this world.

I am grateful for all the amazing people I have met through I Heart Reykjavík. You know who you are! The support and love that I’ve felt from this little community and our customers have saved my life many times over. I hope you all know and appreciate how much that has meant to me.

I was blessed with amazing staff that all taught me different lessons that I will take with me in whatever I do. I’ve had great supportive partners who have always been willing to cooperate with me on all kinds of whacky projects and who’ve valued our business as much as I’ve valued theirs.

Last but not least, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to share this with my husband Hrannar. He came into my life when I needed him the most and every single day since he’s been my rock. If our relationship can survive spending almost every waking moment together for four years straight, we can probably survive anything.

I think the biggest life lesson I’ve learned, especially during these strange coronavirus times, is that life is short and you can’t take anything for granted. Through my journey (sorry again gen Zers) I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to take care of yourself. It’s made me realize what is most important to me.

With that in mind, I am here to tell you that I Heart Reykjavík as a business has run its course. We will be closing up shop and handing in our travel agency license to the Icelandic tourist board on September 1st.

We are not bankrupt – it’s just time.

We have already been in touch with all our customers that had money or postponed bookings with us and offered them refunds. We’ll spend the next two weeks offering support to our remaining customers that still have bookings with us until September 1st and making sure we settle all bills with our partners. No one is losing any money (except us, of course).

There are many reasons why right now is a good time for making this decision.

On the monetary side, due to COVID-19, we’ve been bleeding money for the last few months and things do not look like they will improve anytime soon. At some point, I just had to ask myself how much of my family’s savings I was willing to sacrifice for something that may take years to improve.

Even without the coronavirus, tourism is a fickle business and a global pandemic makes it an almost impossible one. The uncertainty is just too great to justify continuing on.

Although money is important, it’s not the only reason why we’ve made this decision. As a wise woman once said to Hrannar: “There’s no point collecting money under your pillow if you kill yourself doing it.”

During these last few months, as difficult as they’ve been, I’ve also felt an enormous relief. For nine years, I Heart Reykjavík has completely controlled my life. I’ve been chained to my phone or laptop every day, every evening, every weekend, every Christmas and holiday. Always ready, always alert.

It’s nobody’s fault but mine but at least I’m taking responsibility for my own wellbeing now by deciding for myself that I don’t want to live my life like that anymore.

COVID-19 has given me time to reconnect with friends and family that I have neglected for too long. Relationships have been mended, new family members that I want to have time to get to know have arrived in this world and I’m not willing to give that up again.

Professionally, I also feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish with I Heart Reykjavík and I’m ready for some new challenges. I want to focus my energy on school for the next couple of months and enjoy getting lost in discovering new ideas. Embrace new opportunities.

I have no regrets about the last nine years of my life. I did what I had to do to reach my goals. In hindsight, I could probably have done many things differently but every mistake I made propelled me forward and left me richer in experiences and life lessons. I’m immensely grateful for that.

However, I don’t want another decade like the one I’m now leaving behind. I don’t want to look back at my life ten, twenty years from now, and have misgivings about time and opportunities lost. This chapter was good but now it’s time to close it.

I know it may seem like this announcement is coming out of the blue. Especially because I’ve said many times over the last few months that we’re not going anywhere. At the time, that was my truth and I really felt like we were going to fight and push through this.

After months of confusion and numbness, something finally clicked in my head and my heart and I knew that this is what I need to do.

A few practical matters:

We're not going bankrupt

I want to repeat what I already said above and assert that we’re not going bankrupt. We’ve made a conscious decision that this is a good time to close this chapter of our lives and we’ll be making sure that we don’t leave any scorched land behind us. The business has enough money to pay off all our obligations so there’s absolutely no need to panic.

 

Honesty and integrity have always been important to me and this decision doesn’t change that.

We won't leave you hanging

If you have an outstanding booking with us for the month of August, we will be here for you in the same way we’ve always been. You can call us or send us an e-mail and we’ll help you with any issues that may arise.

 

We won’t leave you hanging!

 

Our official closing date is September 1st but that doesn’t mean we’ll evaporate from planet earth on that date – we’ll see through any unfinished business in the best way we can.

Everyone will get their money back

As I mentioned, we have gone through all of our bookings and contacted those who had planned to postpone their trips to refund their money. However, we’re only human and even though we’ve tried to be thorough, it’s possible we missed something.

 

If you have money with us and we haven’t been in touch to refund it, please contact us and we’ll fix it right away.

We will be paying all our bills

We will also be contacting our partners that we have outstanding bookings with to notified them. We will be settling all our bills as soon as they reach us and we’ve had time to go over them.

The blog is too time-consuming to maintain

You may have noticed that the blog is gone and you may wonder why. After all, it’s still useful to a lot of people regardless of whether I’m moving on to other projects, right?

 

Although that is in some ways a completely valid point, it’s also incredibly time-consuming to maintain a blog of this size. There’s stuff that needs to be updated, technical issues to be worked out, and information accuracy that needs to be maintained. Plus that it costs a considered amount just to keep it there.

 

I feel that as long as the blog is live and out there, someone will have to be available to answer your questions and comments. That’s only fair. So it kind of defeats the purpose of closing the business if I’ll have stacks of e-mails and messages to answer every day.

www.iheartreykjavik.net will stay

Although the blog and the business will be gone, www.iheartreykjavik.net will remain. I will use it as my personal website and I may or may not decide at some point in the future to use it to launch a new project.

 

Never say never, right?

 

You may, of course, contact me for any reason but please know that I will probably not be able to help you with your travel planning needs after September 1st. I will also not be keeping regular office hours and will answer e-mails when I can.

You can still follow me on social

I will continue to update at least Twitter and Instagram (I haven’t decided with Facebook yet) although my focus may shift. I will still offer good advice and share my travels around Iceland but I have yet to work out the details.

 

So if you want to stay in touch, make sure you follow me there.

I started this statement with a quote about how when one door closes another opens and that’s what I’ve had to keep telling myself throughout the process of making this decision.

Although I now have no doubt that this is the right decision for myself and my family and it may sound like it was easy to make, it’s actually been incredibly difficult. Although there’s been a relief, there’s also been nagging doubt and a sense of loss that I can’t even explain.

I’m heartbroken but hopeful at the same time.

Which is why I’m choosing to focus on all the fond memories. The lessons learned and the amazing people who’ve contributed to this chapter of my life story.

I will forever be grateful in more ways than you can imagine and you’ll always have a special place in my heart.

Takk takk.

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  1. I have deeply appreciated your posts and emails. Each has left me with a more profound knowledge of the country I have come to love so deeply. I have appreciated your integrity and truth-telling as I have experienced it in your work. I will miss the thought that has knocked around in my head that maybe one day I’ll take a tour with you and meet you in person. Darn!

    I wish you all the best. I completely understand your choice. COVID has truly been eye-opening I’m so many ways. I think the earth will be a different place for many once we wake up from this disease-induced fog.

    I wish you all good things. Takk takk for all your amazing work. May you have a wonderful life! I will miss your presence in my life. You matter to me.

  2. Þetta reddast, Auður. You will be a big success at whatever comes next for you. Thank you for all of your 9 years of work and I’m so glad that I got to meet you at least once!

  3. I’m really sad that you don’t continue the blog.
    It was so useful for our trips to Iceland and it made me feel connected when we were at home.

    I wish you all the best for both your monetary and private situation.

  4. Dear Auður, I know these Covid times have been challenging for your life and business..and sometimes stuff just gets wrapped up and it’s hard to separate one from another. But, I want you to know how much I appreciate you and I have always considered you a friend who’s 7 hours and a Customs clearance away. I wish all the best for you and you’re right..the opening doors and new trails of life’s journeys are ahead. All the best to you, dear Auður. Let’s have coffee when I get back to town..it would be great to see you and you know you and Hrannar are most welcome to visit. Be well, my friend.

  5. I am so sad to read this. I expect if Covid19 was not happening, you would be continuing in business. One more Covid blow. You have been my favourite Icelandic blogger to follow. I am so glad to have met you and Hrannar at the Christmas Dinner you held. It was wonderful to learn about Icelandic Christmas traditions while in your home meeting you. You wore such a pretty dress and Hrannar was such and exemplary chef, both of you were the best hosts. I will always remember that Christmas dinner as I was there to create new and positive Christmas memories after too many holiday downers. As a business owner myself, I can relate to the challenges of making your decision. I’m still sad to see you go, but I do wish you all the best for your future adventures.
    Signed,
    One of your many global fans,
    Elinor in Vancouver

  6. You helped make my last trip to Iceland an amazing, unforgettable, and completely stress-free experience thanks to all the information shared in your blog. Your blog is actually what inspired me to travel to Iceland in the first place. I came upon it by accident and am so grateful I did! I’m sure so many people feel the same way I do. Thank you for being so generous with your time and knowledge. I look forward to following you on Instagram, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors!

  7. Thank you for making Iceland a part of my life. Best of luck to you and your family!

  8. Thanks so much Auður for all you’ve done to showcase Iceland and what a welcoming and rewarding place it can be. I’ll always have a soft spot for iheartreykjavik – your tour and blog were a big part of my decision to move to Iceland five years ago, and it remains the best decision of my life.

  9. Oh, I’m sorry to hear this news. I love the work you do and follow you on social network. I wish you nothing bit the best of luck on your next steps!

    Be well!

    :*

  10. Thank you for sharing your beautiful country with the world! I visited Iceland in 2014 and have followed your blog ever since. We will definitely return when it is possible. You are a gifted writer and I hope you continue to write in some capacity. Thank you, and be well.

  11. Thanks you for the past nine years of your blogs. I first came to Iceland in 1988 (and many times since) and your posts have kept me up to date on your amazing country. Best wishes for your future plans and a huge “Thank You”!

  12. I’m so glad that I got to go on one of your tours, you really made it easy to figure out how to get around by foot & by bus, And gave us insider tips on what not to miss!

  13. You have been a wealth of knowledge and shared so much with us. We’ve visited Iceland twice, with plans to return when we’re able, and I can say, our trips wouldn’t have been what they were without you. Thank you so much for all you’ve shared with us. You’ll be missed!!

  14. I have been visiting your blog for 3 years now and your posts had inspired me to visit your beautiful country! I live in the US. My husband and I had vacationed in Iceland to celebrate his 40th birthday in 2017. We did a Reykjavik walking tour and Hrannar was our guide. He was an unforgettable and fantastic tour guide! I have not met you in person Audur, but I had felt as though I did by reading your blog! I will miss your posts greatly, but I completely understand your decision and the world pandemic has not been nice to anyone! I wish you and Hrannar the best and I know you will be successful in anything that you do!

  15. I’m so sad to hear this. We planned on using your service the next time we came , our third, to your amazing country. Although, I totally get it and I’m excited for your future. Change is good. Wishing you success and happiness in your future endeavors.
    ~Lynn

  16. I gotta ask. Is it AW-thur or OW-thur? At any rate we have lived and appreciated your trip reports, sharing your country and family with us. I am sad that we have not taken your tours but we shall still follow you on ig! Best, Stella.

  17. Dear Auður,
    I wish you all the best for future! Just want to tell you that I always enjoyed reading your blog and I am glad to had a walking tour with you in Reykjavík!
    Kind regards
    Doreen

  18. Beautiful post, it has been a pleasure reading your posts throghout the years. Good luck on your next adventure.

  19. You have dealt with this so beautifully! So professionally! So genuinely! You will inspire many for years to come ?

  20. All the very best to you, Hrannar and the Princess! Have Fun, and enjoy your new chapter!

  21. I’m sorry he hear this, but also not sorry it sounds a well-considered décision that’s is entirely right for you. I have immensely enjoyed reading your posts over the last few years and I feel fortunate that we were able to use your generously published knowledge to build our own epic trip to Iceland last summer. Good luck for future, and I hope to see more amazing photos of your stunning country on insta.

  22. Over the years, I’ve loved reading I Heart Reykjavik and learning about Iceland, though I haven’t been able to visit yet. Thank you so much for all the great info you’ve provided over the years and best of luck to you and your family in your future endeavors!

  23. All the best Audur and Hrannar. You offered great tours and we will fondly remember our Icelandic Christmas dinner with you a few years ago. Iceland is such a special place and we hope to return again. Yes, life is too short. Enjoy your new beginnings!!!

  24. We wish you and your family the very best! We have had such wonderful times traveling around your beautiful country and will never forget it, especially the Autumn we were able to take our two young home-schooled lads around the entire country camping and learning. It was our first time seeing the Aurora and we will never forget the fond memories we created as a family there. You inspired us to explore Iceland and we will always be grateful for that. Takk Takk

  25. This is sad news to read but totally understandable in the current climate.
    Your site and blog were such a useful resource when planning my trip to Iceland a few years ago, and reading your words have kept the joy of that holiday in my mind for the years since. All of the best in whatever you do next and thanks for all the hard work and the joy you’ve sent out into the world.
    Good luck

  26. Thanks trom Australia for your humanity!!!! Beautiful!!

  27. Thanks trom Australia for your humanity!!!! Beautiful!!

  28. I’ve been reading your blog for years ? I’m sorry to hear that you’re closing up shop, but I completely understand. Wishing you the best in whatever you decide to do next!

  29. Thank you Auður and Hrannar for everything you have given to your customers over the past years! It was a literal Godsend when I discovered your blog last year, as I was planning my (very last minute) trip to Iceland. You were so helpful and friendly. You gave me great practical advice and booked my tours for me. You really took the stress out of the situation. I went to Iceland already feeling like a local because of the many tips and information on your blog. Iceland was one of the most memorable trips of my life, and I will never forget it – or you.

    May God bless you and your family in this next life chapter. I hope we will still hear from you about your new adventures.

    All that’s left to say is…TAKK FYRIR!!!

    From an extremely grateful customer,
    Sharon

  30. I just read your post! I have been reading your blog probably from the time you started. I love Iceland and have visited many times. My sister and I took your walking tour and also a fabulous small tour with one of your partner tour groups. My husband and I did a cooking class at Salt last time we were in Reykjavik.
    I’m sorry to hear that you’re no longer blogging . You were wonderful to read and gave us many good ideas for exploring. But our lives change and we move on to new adventures.
    As soon as this virus settles down we will be back in Reykjavik and maybe travel to the north.
    Best of luck Audur.

  31. I chanced upon an article in BBC News recently that led me to your soundcloud explanation about þetta reddast. One thing led to another and I found your blog (though now extinct), that you are in the travel business until the day after tomorrow, September 1!
    We are a very small travel company located in a much bigger suburb of Los Angeles that has also seen some rough times albeit since 1973 – not as long as Icelandic history, I’m afraid! We continue to rough it out thru this pandemic – but hope to be able to come out of it – as they say þetta reddast!
    Would enjoy connecting with you to see if there’s any way we can help you thru what must be an incredibly difficult choice/experience!
    Cheers, Sanjive.

  32. Thank you for all of your hard work and thoughtful input on behalf of your many fortunate readers and guests. My experience in Iceland last year was immeasurably richer for it. Your readers will miss you! May the next chapter in your life be everything you want and need it to be.