The first items on a travel itinerary for me are always religious houses. They’re some of the most beautiful places I’ve viewed and had the opportunity to visit. There isn’t anything more peaceful than being within a church or mosque.
Hallgrímskirkja was around the corner from the apartment that we rented on Grettisgata; we could not have chosen a more central location. The drive from the airport to the apartment led us around the church, giving us a beautiful view of each of its sides. It took so much control to resist stopping immediately and visiting. But we did the reasonable thing – we unpacked, focused on resting up and visited the church tomorrow, the sun ablaze and the wind keeping our bones cold.
I’d never visited a church as minimalist in its decoration and design as Hallgrímskirkja. Each detail felt meaningful and the focus was on the service being given and on God. It felt very different from the Catholic detail and ornamentation that I’m used to.
As an aside, the souvenirs I collect from every city are in the form of rosaries or tesbihs. Each rosary or tesbih is representative of its nation, whether in its colours, its materials or its iconography.
I haven’t found a beautiful enough way of displaying the ones I’ve collected thus far – Barcelona, Mexico, Russia, Hawaii – but I know what the most perfect display will look like. Imagine an extra large wooden shadowbox with a metal clasp to open and close it, rose-gold coloured pins, each with a rosary hanging from it. It’s my own way of bringing that feeling of church home with me.