The guesthouse had little to distinguish it from the other homes on the street. Most held four or more apartments, clad in a glittery stucco that couldn’t quite conceal their drab concrete construction. Nothing special. I stayed there in 2004, on my first solo trip to Iceland. On the second day of my stay the house filled with student teachers from the US. I shared breakfast with them, but didn’t see them much as we all had many things to do during the day. Thursday night, when I had just gotten into bed, I heard a tapping on my door. It was a young woman, one of the students, asking me if I wanted to join them in drinks and discussion. I got dressed and went up to the third floor, to a commons area under a dormer, where they had gathered. I could see into some of their “rooms”, they just cots and a couple of bed-stands, pretty basic compared to my “luxurious” accommodation, which was on the second, with a private entrance and still furnished with artifacts from its previous tenant. As the “party” progressed, the young woman and I began a long talk; mostly about Iceland, but it was also about other things: careers, education, music. She was intelligent and perceptive, qualities I found in short supply among the other students.
The guest house evidently went out of business soon after, when I planned my return trip in 2006 there was no mention of it on the internet. There is currently a link to the address but it looks to be inactive. Residential housing in central Reykjavík has become extremely scarce in the last few years, if this house was reconverted to apartments they would be immediately rented. A recent Google Maps survey
shows that it hasn’t changed much. It is just a place where I once shared a nice talk with a young woman, and that makes it, for me at least, special enough.