Laugavegur is the main shopping strip in Reykjavík and the heart of the famous 101 area, so called because of the area’s postal code. It is really divided into two parts of different characters. Above Hlemmur square, where one of the city’s bus hubs is situated, you can find a car dealership, the National Archives and a petrol station, along with a handful of shops, a restaurant and some offices. The part below Hlemmur has been slowly becoming more and more touristy in the last 10 years or so and is dominated by souvenir shops (most of the variety Icelanders call “puffin shops” (“lundabúðir”)), restaurants, cafés, bars and fashion boutiques, although of course you can find other businesses there as well, like gift shops, bookshops, a bakery, grocery stores, jewellers, opticians, a chemist’s shop, a candy store, a hardware store and a Red Cross charity shop, to name a few. Go a little lower, into Bankastræti, and you will find the only tobacconist in Iceland.
Reykjavikians like to joke that you can walk from Hlemmur down to Bankastræti and then up Skólavörðustígur without hearing a word spoken in Icelandic, but this is not really a joke. A couple of weekends ago, for example, I heard Swedish, English (American and British), Spanish, Italian, and what I think was Portuguese, and only a single word in Icelandic (the greeting “hæ!” – which we borrowed from English).
I have occasionally posted photos from this area, but now I am embarking on a photography project centered on the Laugavegur. I have been diagnosed with diabetes and part of the treatment is to exercise more, so I am going out for walks on my lunch hour and after work. Since I work in this neighbourhood I will be spending a lot of time walking around it. Therefore I decided to bring a camera along and give the walks even more purpose.
I hope to leave behind a record of what the city centre was like at this point in time and will try my darnedest to find a fresh way of exploring the place. The plan is to use, for the most part, my small pocket camera and the camera in my phone, with occasional excursions with the DSLR.
I will be covering not only the Laugavegur, but also the shopping and residential streets around it, such as Skólavörðustígur, Njálsgata, Snorrabraut, Hverfisgata, Bankastræti and Rauðarárstígur. I will also venture down into Lækjargata, Austurstræti and the area around the pond, and up into Skipholt and Langahlíð, and into the Þingholt, Grjótaþorp and Skuggahverfi neighbourhoods.
To begin with, here is a sample of images I have posted from the area in the past: