Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Wednesdays in Iceland - #1

Eight weeks from today I’ll be back in Iceland for a little mini-vacation—catching some culture on my favorite rock in the North Atlantic.

In light of that fact I’ve resurrected my Mondays in Iceland series, but now on Wednesdays. These will be a bittersweet visits, my attempts to recapture the magic until I can be there in person. My one-bedroom apartment (with kitchen) will be my home base. We’ve lost a lot in the four years since my last trip. The Iceland Airwaves music festival is but a shell of what it had been pre-Covid (and pre-Brexit) and my theatre options are fewer now. The charm of the Old Harbour, which has been under ruthless attack for many years, has almost completely succumbed to the cancers of commercial development. Construction of new commercial buildings and hotels isn’t a bad thing in itself, but the uninspired and charmless architecture displayed there could have reflected the culture and heritage of the area in better ways. It has displaced the very things that brought visitors to the area.
One such casualty was the short-lived but much beloved Hjartagarður, the heart garden, a grass-roots “pop-up” park that existed for a while, starting in 2009. My long-time blog-pal Maria Alva Roff posted the picture below and wrote extensively about the park and its meaning for the people of Reykjavík, its creation and its destruction:
A Hilton Canopy Hotel is there now. The once-vibrant courtyard is now a sea of gray concrete. There have been efforts to rebuild it, but without success. I’m usually not impressed by graffiti art, but what once adorned the walls around Hjartagarður was exceptional; vibrant displays of craft, passion and emotion:
Nostalgia may well be a sucker’s bet but my 25-year obsession with Iceland has enriched my life in many ways. The country and its people and culture have been a pleasant obsession; my attempts here are to make some sense of it all and to share with you, dear reader, some of the joys of my discoveries. These posts may be rambling but they are simply a way for me to prepare for my return, Rick Steves would probably not approve of this approach.

By Professor Batty


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