Reykjavík, IcelandVacationer to play at the annual Iceland Airwaves music festival.
I got into music because: I had an attraction to music from a very early age. My dad would play Van Morrison and Creedence tapes on road-trips when I was young and I can remember loving it. Now I've identified what I like so much about it: music is completely unconditional and reliable to make me feel good. Music is love and ever-rewarding. It's the only vice I've held in my life that seems to reward me the more that I do it.
I went here to: I went to Iceland to experience as much of it as I could. I got what I hoped for and more. I toured the Golden Circle, bathed in the Blue Lagoon hot springs, I shook Bjork's hand at the art museum, and I saw one of the most intensely artful concerts delivered by Sigur Ros (their first show home in 5 years). Getting to add my band's performance to that stacked list of red-letter moments in my life is indescribable.
The best way to travel here is: The ideal way to get there is to start a band and get asked to perform at Airwaves. Reyka Vodka put us up and gave us unbelievable treatment. I don't mean to come off as gloating -- it's just the only frame of reference I have with my experience of Iceland, I can't imagine it being topped. It was literally the time of my life.
I stayed at: A hostel called Kex. Don't be put off by the word hostel, this pad was head-over-shoulders more charming than so many hotels I've frequented in my travels. The staff was generous and friendly. The food was delicious! The most memorable, and possibly most rewarding aspect of the trip, was a strong feeling of community within the housing. Every night we would socialize, laugh and converse with our new friends who were also staying at Kex. Some of my favorite memories were in the common kitchen area in the late hours of the night trading stories with travelers from all around the world.
When it comes to packing, be sure to bring: Warm clothes, especially if you are traveling in the winter months. Don't let the "Iceland is green and Greenland is icy" rule of thumb misdirect you, it gets very cold!
The best thing I ate was: The lobster soup from Sea Barron was incredible. The lobster melted like butter in my mouth.
The best performance I saw was: My favorite performance was delivered by Doldrums. I went to see them completely on a whim with the rest of my band. We were all blown away and danced up a storm. It was a wild night.
I wish I hadn't: I'm not one for regrets, and I can't think of any from this particular experience. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.
Don't miss: Don't pass up the hot springs of the Blue Lagoon. It may be an obvious tourist destination by Icelandic standards, but it is unlike any place I've ever been. It's like being on another planet, and it's endlessly relaxing.
Next time I will definitely: Next time I'm bringing boots, I soaked through my shoes on the last day (luckily).
My favorite part of the festival was: The 40 minutes we were allowed to spend on stage at Harpa were by far my favorite. They were the fastest 40 minutes of my recent memory.
My advice would be: Talk to as many locals as you can and heed their recommendations. I did not meet a single Icelander who was unfriendly.
Iceland Airwaves is different from other music festivals because: It was so well organized and easy to navigate for a multi-venue festival. It was impressive to see how smoothly it ran, and also how laid back and peaceful all of the people in attendance were behaved. The quality control is on another level at Airwaves. I was not familiar with most of the bands who were on the roster, but I was impressed by almost every act that I came across. I hope I get the chance to go back as soon as possible.