Oh wow. This place was new to me – and - I’m going to have to say this again - wow.
I packed well. I knew it would be cold; we shot this in late February and it’s the most northerly capital on earth. Steve The Soundman and I travelled together on the 1pm from Heathrow, arriving in Iceland at 4pm. We were booked into an apartment hotel and my room was on the top floor – which always makes you feel a bit special, doesn’t it?
Iceland has a tiny population, dwarfed by the number of tourists who visit the place. The landscape is amazing and you don’t have to travel far from the city to visit the dreamlike coast or countryside. We filmed in both. Breathtaking.
So is the sky. In the evenings, cold as it was, I would stand on my balcony watching the northern lights. Another first for me. Thanks again to the hotel for my top floor room!
The city is full of arts and crafts - leather, paintings, glass, ceramics. It’s also got the most fabulous coffee houses. I’d have breakfast (toast, egg, coffee), in the craft shop/café next to the hotel most mornings, but to be honest I was spoiled for choice. There are loads of them, in every nook and cranny.
Reykjavik is cool. No other word for it, really. There’s a lot of graffiti art, encouraged, I believe, by the city. I loved it. Loved the edge it gives the place. Friday and Saturday night people go mad for a party. Between 1 and 2 am, everyone has a really smashing time - literally. Then, at 5am, the trucks come around, cleaning up the mess, and by dawn you’d never know the weekend had happened. I know many north European cities have a lively night life, but I’ve never before witnessed glass smashing as part of the cultural heritage.
One of my favourite sights was a collection of single gloves. It’s a low tech, but witty and charming, dating site! If you find a single glove, you stick your phone number in it and pop it on a railing. The owner knows where to come to retrieve their lost glove and if they’re in the mood, they can give you a ring. Or not.
You’ll see from the programme that this is a very foodie place. Nordic cuisine is rocking at the moment – and Iceland has many chefs at the forefront of that movement. But street food? Well – because of the weather, street food here is often served indoors- markets, cafes, stalls. You need to redefine how you think about the street. In terms of ingredients, Iceland has lots of fish, as you’d imagine, but very little of it served fresh, which surprised me. But then, everything about this place surprised me. Iceland is like no other city on earth.