Try as you might, sometimes you can’t get away. Whether it’s because your PTO bank is low or your bank account is, a holiday isn’t always on the horizon. When beset by a deficit of vacation days, it’s fun to live vicariously through your well-traveled pals.
This week we’ve been poring over the stunning pics of Nordstrom’s print design director, Kim Chin, who just returned from Iceland. We can practically feel the chill coming from her cool shots of this Nordic land famed for its hospitality, its geologic landscape and for giving the world Bjork (takk!). Find out where to dine, stay and swim, plus what to pack.
Who: Kim Chin, Nordstrom Design Director, Print Studio
Where: Reykjavik, Vik and Hof, Iceland
Why did you choose this destination?
For its dynamic environment, sense of calm and design aesthetic.What were your favorite places to eat?
So many! Seafood is very much recommended: Matur og Drykkur for beautiful and tasty presentations; Snaps Bistro for the mood, delicious dinner and dessert; The Coocoo’s Nest for a cheeky cocktail; Sveitagrill Miu – Mia’s Country Grill kiosk for a hearty fish and chips on the road; and Saegreifinn by the harbor for lobster soup and grilled fresh fish.
Your favorite nightlife venue?
Nightlife was focused on a decent meal and great people watching while absorbing the city. Snaps Bistro had a consistent string of locals and tourists who were looking for that intimate but bustling bistro vibe.
Where did you stay?
We stayed mainly in Airbnbs while in Reykjavik and the south. When we travelled east, we stayed in the Fosshotel Núpar, where you could catch the northern lights from an amazing row of cabins with large windows facing the glaciers.
What did you wear there?
Comfort is key and the weather is temperamental. For the city, versatile layering for all weather types was a must: a beanie, Rachel Comey camo trench, Prada tread boots, a pair of jeans, trainers and a wide range of socks. For the outdoors, a good pair of hiking boots, sunglasses, leggings and layers for those outdoor excursions. And a hair tie for those windy days!
Was there anything you wished you’d packed but didn’t?
My Bose mini speakers, for those remote cabins on stormy nights.Your favorite memory?
The discovery of “folk poet” sculptor Ásmundur Sveinsson. Part of the Reykjavik Art Museum, Ásmundur Sveinsson’s mostly designed and constructed workshop/home was influenced by the circular designs of Middle Eastern mosques—my idea of a how I want to live. Sveinsson’s early artworks were heavily influenced by the people and community around him, and then evolved to abstracted cosmology. I loved the equal importance of the everyday activity versus unknown connectivity, tactile expression and mathematical construction.
And going for an early morning swim in one of the public outdoor thermal pools just a 10-minute walk from our Airbnb in Reykjavik. I would love to return both when it’s colder for the northern lights, or when it’s a bit warmer for the natural thermal lakes.
An Ásmundur Sveinsson sculpture
What was your favorite activity?
A glacier hike at Skaftafell and lake tour at Jökulsárlón Lake were experiences I didn’t quite expect—so peaceful but also alarming when guides were speaking to the effects and speed of global warming.
What’s something cool that you learned?
The lack of native animals and minimal trees is due to the volcanic nature of the landscape. That, and everything being so clean and sparse, made you feel like you were living on another planet.
Hiking boots, trainers, some smarter shoes for the city.
If you were to move there, what do you think you’d do for a living?
Weigh the balance as a maker—ceramicist, painter or photographer—or something random like pony herder or location scout. Capitalize on the landscape, tranquility, time and space that the environment encourages.
Kim’s packing picks:
Rachel Comey Mingle distressed sweatshirt | Acne Studios Pansy rib knit beanie | Junya Watanabe camo nylon jacket | Nike NRG unisex Dri-FIT socks | Isabel Marant Brendta high-top sneaker boot | Topshop crochet plunge one-piece swimsuit