From Iceland — Arepas & The Midnight Sun: Helen Cova's Perfect Day

Arepas & The Midnight Sun: Helen Cova’s Perfect Day

Published July 1, 2020

Arepas & The Midnight Sun: Helen Cova’s Perfect Day
Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Helen Cova is a Venezuela-born author. Most recently, she published a children’s book—‘Snulli likes being alone’—in English, Icelandic and Spanish. Here’s how her perfect day in the city would unfold.

Early morning

I am gently woken up by the sunshine leaking through my window. It’s the summer solstice. My husband has set the east balcony of my apartment with the perfect breakfast: Arepas with cheese, black beans and plantains, with avocado on the side and coffee. It’s sunny and there’s no wind; maybe just a soft, fresh breeze. Good enough to keep me from sweating.


In the perfect world, the whole planet enjoys an abundance of water, just like Iceland. And so, on this day, everyone in the city is invited to a water game. Children and grown-ups alike run around with bottles, buckets, toy water guns—any container does the job. We throw water at each other and laugh as downtown Reykjavík is transformed into a huge playground. All of our pain is washed away with the water as we embrace the excitement of childhood once again.

When we are done, my friends and I go to Nauthólsvík where today, magically, the sea water is not Arctic cold but rather Caribbean warm. We grill and eat lunch, staying until the afternoon.


After lunch, I bike with my husband to Café Flóran in Grasagarðurinn. There, we share a slice of carrot cake and cheesecake, and I write or sketch. Afterwards, we stop at Klambratún for a quick round of frisbee golf and to check on Kjarvalsstaðir, my favourite museum in Reykjavík.


After an early dinner at Sjávargrillið, we go to Stofan to play board games with our friends. I usually host the board game nights there so I don’t get much chance to actually play, but today I play with friends for an hour and a half before heading to the re-opened IÐNÓ. An intimate crowd has gathered to watch sóley, Sin Fang and Örvar play their album ‘Team Dreams’. I lay back into one of their sofas with a glass of white wine. Just perfect.

Photo by Art Bicnick

The end of the day

It’s close to midnight and to end the day, I have prepared a literary camping trip. Writers gather in Heiðmörk and set up their tents. We hold a reading by a fire and the song of their voices reading in different languages creates a path to the dream world. The temperature in the air never drops below 16°C, so it’s just nice to be outside, with the midnight sun setting in the distance, covered by the orange-purple light it creates. When I am tired enough, I go inside the tent and without even needing a sleeping bag, I fall asleep in my husband’s arms.

You can buy Helen Cova’s newest trilingual children’s book here. Check out more Perfect Day articles here.

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