the grandeur of granda: iceland uncovered

May 21, 2018 brianna 2 Comments

I had a dream.

This dream had been held faster than Chuck Yeager and harder than adamantium in my mind since I was old enough to realize that dreams of such a magnitude seldom came true.

But mine did.

I checked a bag seven pounds shy of Delta’s weight cap, knocked back two glasses of shitty Cabernet at the booze-soaked Buffalo Wild Wings between gates B26 and 27, and boarded a half-empty Boeing 757 to Reykjavík.

Nearly 13 years after my love for the wind-whipped, wave-lashed, lava-carved island manifested in that weird little alcove of my brain reserved for quirks and eccentricities, I stepped out onto the tarmac and breathed my first breath of Icelandic air, relishing the crisp sting of the rain as it soaked my hair. Massaged my skin. Sank, bone-deep, into me, as if welcoming me home.

But let’s begin as I often tend to: at the end.


I spent two glorious weeks in Europe’s northernmost bastion. Every minute of every hour of every day brought something fresh and new to the table of my experience, from grand waterfalls misting my glasses to peculiar cuisines challenging my palate in the best of ways. No one moment, or meal, or sight, or smell, or sensation was ever even remotely the same.

I yearn to return; to do it all again. And I will. I know I will.

But for me, the final two nights spent in this otherworldly stronghold of natural beauty, lovely people, and immense culture, had the greatest impact.

I treated myself, you see. Treated myself to the Aurora Borealis Loft on Fiskislóð in Reykjavik’s up-and-coming Granda neighborhood, a small peninsula at once close to the heart of the city’s pulsing vibrancy and yet, somehow, far removed from the bustle of its touristic presence.

With a view like that, how could I want for anything more?

I connected with my Airbnb hosts, Anna and Elvar, near-instantaneously. We traded conspiracy theories, relished in one another’s open-mindedness, and discussed the magic of the land—including but not limited to the creative energy poured into the loft by Snæfellsjökull, a glacier in the distance, seen like a solid cloud over the cobalt blanket of the sea.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m an introvert if there ever was one. Averse to socialization. Uncomfortable with drawn-out conversations. A veritable Introqueen, if you will.

And yet I felt welcome. I felt happy. I felt stimulated and interested and, had my feet not been aching from all the walking I’d done prior to my arrival, there wasn’t a shred of a fraction of a doubt in my mind that I would have kept that interaction going well after the sun dipped behind the horizon.

The loft was any artist’s dream, whether poet, painter, photographer, or writer, like myself.

This lovely home sat nestled on the coast of Reykjavík’s Granda neighborhood: an up-and-coming habitat reminiscent of Brooklyn in its early transitional days from gritty to glorious, boasting an aesthetic equal parts isolated industrial and postmodern gorgeous, yet to be tainted by the inevitable influx of yuppies. The flat came complete with tastefully artistic interior design, nick-nacks that’d make any creative mind squeal with joy, and a view so many would sin for; kill for; plan extravagant and doomed-to-fail bank heists for.

Not to mention my favorite part: the excess of candelabras eager to stoke the imagination with both atmospheric lighting and the subtle scent of burning wicks; of small flames dancing in the breeze floating in through the balcony door. The clatter of fresh candles falling into a wicker basket… it seems like such a simple, inconsequential thing. But it’s a sound I won’t soon forget.

With none but gulls and ravens to keep me company, I rattled away at my keyboard. My upcoming novel, The Quaking Aspen, wouldn’t be the same without the inspiration that this magical locale injected into my veins. It reawakened my love of writing. My passion for storytelling. My need to put words to paper, to tell the tale I was built to share with the world.

Thank you, Anna and Elvar, for sharing with me your incredible home. Without it, my work would not be the same.

With utmost sincerity, I look forward to returning, and I implore those of you reading this, those of you considering a trip to this beautifully indescribable place, to take the plunge.

You will not regret it.

~ ~ ~

The Aurora Borealis Loft listing on Airbnb can be found here. I highly, highly, highly recommend it – it’s a splurge worth every single cent.

The Quaking Aspen is an existential horror novel with LGBTQ undertones approaching completion. Find out more here.

2 People reacted on this

  1. You FIEND! I have absolutely no money whatsoever, yet this has mysteriously appeared on my bucket list. How did that happen? It’s even slotted above #5, which is to appal the stuffy locals of Richmond-upon-Thames (home of Lord Attenborough) by parking at the side of Richmond Green using a handbrake turn. Ideally outside Lord Attenborough’s home….

    How did a copycat of this trip pip this momentous achievement to the bucket list post? With appallingly compelling prose, that’s how. Tell you what, Lonely Planet is missing out on one helluva travel journalist…

    lotsa luv

    Tig (of Careers Advisors’ Anonymous)

    1. I’d pay good money for front row (read: passenger seat) tickets to that vehicular space opera! Thanks for stopping by as always, Tig 🙂

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