All slideshow images by Krysta Jabczenski
“Travel is not transcendence. It’s immanence. It’s trying to be here.”
–Eileen Myles, The Importance of Being Iceland
In the summer of last year, my wife, Krysta Jabczenski, and I were married. We live in Tucson, Arizona, which is calm, cool, and somewhat perfect for nine months out of the year. That is, until right before summer hits, and temperatures persist in 3 digits for 120 straight days. Faced with the option of being a newly married couple unable to leave the house, or a newlyweds able to roam the world, the decision seemed relatively clear.
Iceland was first on our list. We’d had friends who’d visited the island the summer before as apart of their Nordic coffee project, Takk Travels, and spoken glowingly of the Western Fjords, and a small cafe called Simbahöllin.
Simbahöllin coffee shop in Þingeyri, Iceland
Housed in what was for decades an old grocery store in the TINY village of Þingeyri, Simbahöllin is a beacon for travelers wishing to explore the Western Fjords at leisure. Anyone that has been to Iceland knows it’s “expensive”. $11 dollars a gallon for gas expensive, $20 dollars for a cup of soup expensive.
Simbahöllin exists to bridge that gap for a small group of international travelers. Open for only 2 months during the summer, they trade room & board, food, and a small stipend for 7 hour shifts in their gorgeously restored cafe. My wife and both had “previous lives” as baristas, so this seemed a natural fit.
You may wonder why we’d agree to spend our honeymoon “working”, but it made total sense to us.
It allowed for an experience unique in traveling, which is the ability to completely immerse yourself in a landscape, satisfy all the mundane urges to simply sit and absorb what is truly one of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the world, while not having to worry about getting to your next destination, reservation, or stop on your pre-planned trip, or more importantly– running out of money.
Simbahöllin’s waffle with rhubarb jam
Many days we worked side by side in the cafe, sampling the rhubarb jam, serving older European tourists looking for viking artifacts, and astonished to come upon this tiny, beautiful oasis in the middle of Fjords serving practically perfect espresso.
At “night” we enjoyed the perpetual sunset Iceland offers during the summer months. It starts at around midnight and lasts until about 4 am, the sky brilliant splashes of orange and red, and then the sun simply rises again. 24 hours of daylight.
The money we saved on the trip we then invested in traveling the “Golden Circle” (which is were 95% of tourism happens in Iceland), plus we had enough left over for a week long trip to Belize, and another to the New Mexican treasure of Chaco Canyon.
I’m not sure we could have had a more perfect honeymoon. We dream about Iceland constantly, and have sent friends off to Simbahöllin just this year.