“This is my favourite spot in the whole of Reykjavik”, Jon told me as we looked out towards the lighthouse. Located just a few minutes drive from the centre of town, it was almost as if you were in the countryside. “When I was young, you could come here and no one else was around. But now they’ve put in a path, and lots of people come here to walk their dogs”, he added.
Jon is a friend of a friend who has lived in Reykjavik most of his life, aside from a few years living in Canada during the early part of the 200s. He came back to Reykjavik in the mid 2000s, when the economic boom in Iceland was beginning to be felt. A few years later, of course, it was a whole different story with the economic collapse. “A lot of people bought big cars during this period”, he said, “and they have nothing to show for it”. I knew about the collapse, but I didn’t know about the economic boom which had preceded it.
When I first mentioned I was planning to visit Iceland, my friend in Sydney said “oh you must meet Jon”. She introduced us to each other via email, and we made plans to catch up. Sadly there was a death in his close family, and so it was only on my final day in town that we firmed up plans.
Over a couple of hours Jon showed me around some of his favourite spots around the town. Within minutes of leaving the centre of Reykjavik, I was surprised to find us in seemingly remote areas. “This is like parts of The Northern Territory”, I thought to myself as we went through grand landscapes.
“I understand quite a few films made have been made in Iceland?”, I asked him, as I’d heard Batman and James Bond movies had films with scenes made locally. “You see so much variation in the landscape in such a short space”, he told me, adding “You would need to drive for hours and hours in parts of North America to see such variation”. Indeed, he was right, as we passed large lakes, mountains, saw snow in the distance, and took a close up look at some boiling water and mud.
Jon also had some great stories to tell from his life, including memories of an early performance on Icelandic television of a young, very pregnant Bjork wearing skimpy clothing. “I almost got the sack over that” he told me.
It was a really lovely way to spend my last few hours in Reykjavik. Jon is a really lovely bloke, and I thank my friend for the invitation, and Jon for taking the time to catch up. “It would have been nice to have caught up earlier for a beer”, Jon said, but sadly due to a death in his family that wasn’t to be. Hopefully next time, because I certainly think I’d like to return to Iceland at some stage. It’s a great country, with lots to see, and lots of friendly people.