This past April, my younger brother and I embraced the far-away country of Iceland as our destination of choice for this years holiday. Being an Australian, I am used to sun. I like the sun. In fact, I love it. Give me 30 degrees celsius over snow and ice anyday. But I told Luke he could pick. And pick he did.
We were up in the hemisphere of the north, England specifically, for my fabulous cousin's wedding. As a side-holiday from the family, an adventure to somewhere unusual, with a non-english language and fabulous photography opportunities was warranted. Iceland was the perfect getaway.
April is technically Spring, and Google directed me to websites assuring a range of 4-7ºC, dropping below zero in "approximately one day out of 10"... it was probably below zero every day except one. And probably the last one. But despite the chill, the country is absolutely, hands down, phenomenal. I recommend it to EVERYONE. Kids will love the horses which look like they should be giant Shetland Ponies but apparently are "Icelandic Horses". The elderly will love the huge ships that pull into the docks and the quaint timber houses perched on the cliff verges. The everyone-else-inbetween will love the huge mountains, the thundering waterfalls (all of which are called beautiful names that end in "foss"... Svartifoss, Gullfoss etc.), the absolutely stunning views and the thrill of the hunt for the Northern Lights, which alone made our entire holiday worth it.
Words and photos, do not do the country any justice. The water that runs straight off the mountains is as clear as glass, footprints tracked through the snow were literally frozen in their shape. It was like running your fingers across a perfect silicon formed rendition of the bottom of a bloke's hiking boot.
On our very first day walking through the country's capital, Reykjavik, the two of us noticed the overwhelming presence of street art. Firstly let me point out, every kid is a hipster. To buy the only good coffee outside of my home town (am I biased?) you have to know which book store to climb to the top floor of, but when you do find it (Eymundsson, on Skólavörðustígur), you get free refills! Kids wear skinny jeans and army coats, bought from the handful of individual boutique vintage stores that make up the entire youth culture's fashion range. They ride skateboards on cobble stone streets, and live in brightly coloured houses. And they love street art. It's everywhere.
Down every alley, around every corner, on every surface there was a different expression. The colourful, magical pieces came alive on the back walls of Reykjavik. From window-writing to murals painted up the walls as advertising, from carefully planned large-scale pieces to the simple runes sprayed onto old brick walls. Graffiti is traditionally controversial, abstract and widely outlawed. Reykjavik has embraced every aspect.
Hidden off the main street is a skate park. Between Laugavegur, Hverfisgata, Klapparstigur and Smidjustigur streets in downtown Reykjavik. This is the hub of Iceland's street culture. There is no more I can do to describe it. Have a look for yourself...
I am lucky enough to have an AWESOME little brother and thus starts the beginning of the Great Sibling Holidays. Luke, I hope that we can explore many more crazy cultures together, each is bound to be as interesting and fabulous as Iceland!