I remember Iceland

Chronicles of a French man in Iceland for a year

31 Mai 2013

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” said Albert Einstein once. An exile in Iceland seemed like the perfect opportunity to look deep into this wild and cold nature. Let me tell you about a year of experiences, of adventures, of meetings, of surprises and of memories.

@Anthony Manzi
@Anthony Manzi
As I was wandering through the streets of Akureyri for one of my last nights in the country, my mind drifted so far away that the mountains towards me became blurry. They say that at the end of your life the entirety of it flashes before your eyes one last time. This may not be the end of my life, but this is surely the end of a huge part of it.

So I started to remember. To remember the feeling of leaving France for a year to go to a country I almost knew nothing about. The excitement while I was flying in August over the ocean in the direction of Iceland. The sensation of complete freedom: of leaving everything behind, leaving who I was to start everything from the beginning.

I remember my first contact with the country. The flight over Keflavik that was like nothing I’d seen in my life before. The emptiness and volcanic landscape from Reykjavik to Akureyri. At times it’s difficult convincing the mind that you’re not about to land on the moon.

I remember the first Icelandic words that I heard. This indescribable language that I was certain I would never fully understand. All the people: so nice, peaceful and just... different.

I remember my arrival in the north. To Akureyri. My town. My home for a year. The airport surrounded by fjords. These majestic mountains. This deep, calm and cold ocean. This pure fresh air. The chilled breeze against my skin.

@Anthony Manzi
@Anthony Manzi
I remember the first steps around my new house. My first meetings, my roommates, all the mixes of nationalities. The promises of adventure, the expectations, the plans. The feeling of having so much time to realise everything. Picturing myself on the globe: isolated on this tiny island with Greenland suddenly as a close neighbour.

I remember the first snow, the days getting shorter. Creating my own Icelandic routine, my everyday life, my nest. My first Icelandic words, my first Icelandic friends. My favourite places in town, my favourite paths to walk. My first trip to the Eastfjords. The great feeling of driving among the empty spaces on the road N°1 which encircles the whole country. I remember these wonderful waterfalls, these wild landscapes, these gifts from nature: never touched or destroyed by humans.

I remember missing home sometimes. But also feeling at home in Akureyri. Time flying, my first mountain climbed – Súlur. Discovering Reykjavik the capital, with its cute and always animated streets, its charming bars. The drunk Icelandic people suddenly cured of their shyness. Driving around the golden circle: the geysers, the national park - Þingvellir. My first Northern Lights sighting: a magical show in the sky and the most unreal thing that I ever saw. Seeing whales so close it were as if they were planning on boarding the boat.

I remember getting attached to people. Having my own adopted family. Thinking that maybe this place was for me. The daily snow storms, the days without light, Christmas coming. The first goodbyes.

@Anthony Manzi
@Anthony Manzi
I remember Christmas in Akureyri. All the lights around town, all the excitement, all the adults becoming children again. New Year's eve in Reykjavik. All the fireworks that continued over a week: the colourful explosions in the sky above the lake to celebrate the arrival of 2013.
I remember the end of the first semester, and the beginning of the second. The people that we'd lost, the ones that we gained. This new family, this new life, still in Akureyri.

I remember visiting more of Iceland. The glaciers, the iceberg lake - Jökulsárlón – this impression of reaching the end of the world, with its infinite ice and playful seals. The Westfjords and its music festival. The road going around the mountains and the ocean. Travelling to the West coast and to the most wonderful town in the world: Stykkishólmur. Enjoying the sun near the harbour there; laying down on the grass of the hill overlooking the town and the surrounding mountains. Walking around at night there; staying near the lighthouse and watching the Northern Lights with no one and no noise around. The last moments there with a wonderful sunset.

@Anthony Manzi
@Anthony Manzi
I remember swimming in the natural baths, in 40°C water, surrounded by nothing but the hills. The last lessons at university and the warm sun on my skin again. The days becoming longer and longer. The feeling of knowing the town and its people by heart. The feeling of being one of them. To be home.

I remember flying in a little plane over the Mývatn area. The sight of the waterfalls from the sky. The midnight sun and the endless days. The weather changing every 10 minutes.

I remember the goodbyes to this second family. The feeling that everything comes to an end. To know that it's now time for this adventure to end. To think that we will never feel that free again. That this place changed us forever.

I remember wandering in the streets of Akureyri one last time and thinking: “I remember. I remember everything. And will for sure, never forget...”


Anthony Manzi
Etudiant en Master Media Studies à l'Université d'Akureyri, au nord de l'Islande. Diplômé d'une... En savoir plus sur cet auteur