Nostalgia on Laugavegur

Standing on the corner of Laugavegur and Klapparstigur in Reykjavík, a sudden feeling of sadness struck me last week. I noticed that an essential part of my youth has been closed down. Sirkus closed down in 2008, 22 changed his name over the years and has now turned in a way too neat bar called Trúno (or something like that – my mind refuses to remember it).

Sirkus in 2008: closed

22 was an incredibly important spot in my life. Downstairs, I found my best friend Manu(ela). We took the same lessons in Icelandic, but we had never really talked until that Wednesday night. My Italian housemate Ester introduced us, we started chatting and laughing and basically never stopped doing that. Upstairs I found the confidence I had lacked until then … I learned how to flirt with men and how to catch the fish.

But especially the downstairs part is very dear to me. Karamba, the bar that was there until a few months ago, had the same look and feel, the same soul as 22. Slightly alternative, a bit overcrowded and most importantly, I could still point at the table where Manu and me really met.

Sirkus was completely alternative and completely overcrowded too back in the days. Every weekend I queued up to go in there. Well, until that lovely black bouncer let us skip the line because he liked me and Manu so much. I spent many happy nights there. This year I saw a guy back that used to be there every single time. I never knew his name and I think I never will, but he is listed in my photobook as the guy that I have never seen sober. I still remember him falling of his chair five times, then they chucked him out of the place.

On that corner, becoming really nostalgic, I kept wondering: has Reykjavík changed this much? In a way it has. Walking down (well up, technically) Laugavegur, I noticed how many shops had disappeared. Kreppa has struck suite hard … So many new and/of empty shops. Many good new shops!

But I wasn’t panicking. Kirkjuhúsid (the church shop) and Litla Jólabúdin (the little christmas shop) and Esja (the beautiful mountain) are still there (I need to check this during the first 24 hours that I am in town – i have this strange superstition that I won’t return if I don’t). But most importantly the vibe that I sensed in Reykjavík in 2002 is still there. The pub Bakkus is reminiscent of the atmosphere of 22 and Boston reminds me of Sirkus. The vibe just moves on to these (relatively) new places. And that’s why I keep returning to the most beautiful city in the world


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