Our very own Natasha Kozaily of NATULA recently went on a global fundraising tour of house concerts for her golden 30th year. Along the way she played living room shows in cities around the world and raised over $10,000 for the International Rescue Committee! This month she shares her favorite thoughts and spots from the city of Reykjavik, Iceland.
It was April and the city of Reykjavik was small, sunny, snowy, wild and full of color. I landed at night on the surface of the moon. Or so it felt. The airport was small and the bus had wifi. It was a quiet drive to the city and even though I was the furthest north I had ever been I felt more connected to the world than I expected. On my first day I began my mission through the tiny streets of Reykjavik looking for an adapter for my keyboard. It was a Sunday and I walked into Lucky Records where the owner kindly gave me a ride to the only electronic store that was open. It was cold outside but the people were warm. On my walk back to town I stopped at the Kjarvalsstaðir Art Museum and fell in love with the work of Kjarval. That was the first time I saw the hidden faces in the mountains and it began to snow. When I stepped outside the quiet stillness I discovered earlier that day was no more. I wrapped my arms tightly around my denim clad body in a hopeless effort to keep warm and headed back to the city to find myself one of those Icelandic wool sweaters I heard about. The icy wind pushed against me violently and I found shelter in a second hand thrift shop where I left a little broker and a little warmer.
I stayed at the Kex Hostel which felt more like a hip local spot then a tourist enclave. There was a tasty restaurant and bar on the ground floor which served up a truly gourmet selection of eats and hosted live music throughout the week. The decor was on fleek with so many Instagram worthy corners everywhere and a stunning view of the mountains and sea. Throughout the day and night locals and visitors alike came through to hang out and I met so many interesting and creative people.
Rotten Shark Bites
Iceland is known for it's unusual culinary traditions like rotten shark and sour ram's testicles. I didn't find the courage to give any of these a try but I did find some rave worthy food. My most memorable meal was at Snaps and if I'm honest I won't be able to tell you what I had because I don't actually remember! All that remains in my head was the feeling of pure satisfaction and bliss, the look of that cute waiter when he told me they don't tip in Iceland, and the sunlight that fell through the large glass windows all around.
Fire + Ice + Magic
The day after my gig with Sofar Sounds Reykjavik, I made a point to try and see a little bit of the countryside. I booked a tour through the Golden Circle which turned out to be the perfect day trip for such a short stay in Reykjavik. In a small group, guided by a local Icelandic artist named Peter we discovered the volcanic landscape of Nesjavellir, walked along the edge of Gullfoss waterfall, photographed explosions of boiling hot water out of the icy ground and bathed in an old natural lagoon before heading back to the city. Halfway through the tour during a lunch stop on the road, my guide Peter offered to by me a coffee and tell me about his country. It was there between the fire and the ice that I listened to my first stories of Iceland's hidden people and the magic that I had already felt so strongly in that place.
Beside Beloved Bjork
For a population of just over 300,000, Iceland has one of the highest concentrations of artists, painters, writers and musicians in the world. Beside my beloved Bjork, or Sigur Ros there are so many more amazing artists to listen to like Ólafur Arnalds and Soley, to name a few.
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Natasha Kozaily is the artist behind NATULA and co-owner of Kalabash School of Music + the Arts. She enjoys collecting zines and plants, teaching kids how to write songs, eating ice cream, visiting museums and falling asleep under coconuts trees.
Find out more about her Golden 30 tour at www.thegolden30.com or say hello on social media @natulamusic