Everyone and their mother leaves Iceland with some Brennivín, lakkrís, a stuffed puffin, lopapeysa and a 66°NORTH hat. And don’t get us wrong, those are great, but for those looking for some deep cuts on the souvenir/gift scale, here are the Grapevine’s picks.
Bookstores in Reykjavík & Geysir
Yeah, trekking onto Sólheimajökull is great and all, but that memory will only last until your dementia kicks in. To get a true glacial experience that’ll last a lifetime, pick up Ragnar Axelsson’s stunning photo book ‘JÖKULL’ (‘Glacier’). The 200-page book features ethereal, eerie, and intimate portraits of the glacial landscape taken over a 5-year timespan. Some are aerial views, others textural close-ups, all providing a timeless look at the structures which, to be blunt, will be gone within the next two centuries. Thanks, conservatives.
Hildur Yeoman Dress
Yeoman, Skólavörðustígur 22
If you genuinely want to fit in with the stylish Icelandic woman crowd, start donning Hildur Yeoman. Yes, her works are a bit pricey—expect to pay something in the 40,000-60,000 ISK range for a dress—but they’re timeless works of art that’ll fit any occasion. Yeoman is known for mixing loud, elaborate prints with classic, elegant cuts, so you’re guaranteed to find a fit that’s comfortable for you.
Lady Brewery, First Lady IPA
Vínbúðin (and on tap at many bars around Reykjavík)
Icelanders love to drink—it’s the #1 way they reproduce—so it’s no wonder a host of lovely microbreweries have sprung up in the city over the last few years. Our favourite is Lady Brewery, created and run by designer Þórey Björk Halldórsdóttir. Their signature IPA is a delicious blend of fresh citrus and mellow floral notes all in a heady, hoppy brew. Inspired by “beer witches”—medieval female brewers who eventually became the archetypal witches (a very interesting thing to research on a rainy day)—it’s the perfect thing to binge drink as you sit in your house alone crying over a Netflix Christmas movie.
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’
Bookstores in Reykjavík
The best way to enjoy the Icelandic psyche is to slip into the head of the country’s crime queen. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is one of the most successful crime writers in Iceland and has sold over five million copies of her books around the world. But here is a little pro-tip when it comes to Yrsa: She’s most in her element when she combines ghost horror with crimes, so if you need something to read in the dark, ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ is both horrifying as well as a slick mystery. The first pages of the book will freak you out, but, trust me, keep reading. You won’t regret it.
Literally Any Not-Internationally-Famous Icelandic Record
Ask any pretentious guy at various Reykjavík record stores
So you’ve got every Björk b-side, a ton of illegal Sigur Rós merch, and three Klemens from Hatari fan Instagram accounts. We get it, you love Icelandic music. Deepen your clout with the best souvenir—a record you can show off to your annoying I’m-indie-but-really-only-listen-to-múm friends. If you like classical, Gabríel Ólafs’ calming piano works come highly recommended. The wistful, yacht-rocky stylings of Bagdad Brothers are great for indie folk, as is literally everything produced by the Post-dreifing collective. For metal, Andavald’s recent ‘Undir skyggðarhaldi’ is a quick [kvlt] classic. And of course, you can never go wrong with any of our Grapevine 2020 Music Award Winners… you know, the cover story of this very magazine? Yeah, give them money.
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