“I had to lose everything to find out what I was capable of.” Gay comedian Jonathan Duffy tells readers how his break-up led him on a life-changing journey to Iceland.

I had first come to Iceland in 2011 on vacation with my then partner. It was a nice little country with amazing landscapes and interesting people. I remember at the time we had joked with each other about how it would be fun to spend some time living there. Flash forward to August 14, 2015 and I was at Keflavík airport arriving from Amsterdam ready to start a new life. Sounds exciting, but the confident comedian about to turn 30 was actually a broken and scared little boy looking to start over somewhere really far away from painful memories.

“My final birthday in OZ. That’s a cake made of cheese, cause I like cheese and don’t really like cake.”

I had been with my partner since I was 20 years old. Together we had racked up a ton of adventures and seemed to be in the kind of relationship that was going to last forever. He was (and still is) a doctor and I was a gay comedian working across loads of different projects in Australia. We were sort of a D-List power couple. There was even a documentary about how we had spent years living in the heart of the homophobic Australian outback and had an amazing time doing so. All of this changed for me in what seemed like an instant.

I had begun touring festivals with a comedy show that took me all over Australia and eventually New Zealand (which is kind of like the reverse of an Icelander going to Denmark, in that Australia is like Denmark and Iceland is our New Zealand). While I was there I had an incident in a gay bar that shook me emotionally and psychologically. I performed my final two shows there and went back to Melbourne. All I wanted was to just get on with life and get back to the man who knew me better than I knew myself. A man who was sure to know how to make things better. However this couldn’t be the case.

When I returned he revealed to me that there were some issues in our relationship he wanted to talk about. He insisted that he wanted us to stay together and work through it. We went to two therapy sessions and it seemed that almost in a gust of wind, life as I knew it was over. I had spent years devoting my time and energy to our relationship and his success. I had blindly put myself second to make sure he was happy because I had so much unresolved self-worth issues. Of course there were other things that contributed to the break up but if I were to pin point the part I played in the relationship collapse it would be that my own hang ups and issues aided in creating an unequal partnership.

“I was alone for the first time in my adult life, living in a city where almost everyone knew me as one half of a couple instead of an individual. I no longer had a house I owned or even a car and had no idea what to do.”

I was alone for the first time in my adult life, living in a city where almost everyone knew me as one half of a couple instead of an individual. I no longer had a house I owned or even a car and had no idea what to do. One morning while we were going over final details of the break up, he asked me where I thought I would go. I remember telling him, ‘I don’t know, I feel like I just need to get out of here.’ He asked me where and I asked why it matters to him and he told me that he still wanted to be able to have me in his life. In a weird fit of aggression I shouted at him, ‘Well you don’t get to decide that, maybe I’ll move to Iceland.’

Enjoying the landscape of Iceland.

He was perplexed by this and insisted I was being a bit dramatic. Later that day he approached me as I was sorting through items in my office and said that he’d done some thinking and actually thought it wasn’t a terrible idea. He said that if I wasn’t tied to anything anymore, then why shouldn’t I just go have an adventure and see what life was like where I get to be in charge and I’m not constantly associated with someone else. He actually helped me make my travel arrangements and when the day came he even drove me to the airport. Maybe it was to make sure I actually left the country, I’ll never know.

This one act of spite opened a window to me that I probably never would have acknowledged if I had stayed in Australia. I got a British passport and did some travel. I settled on Iceland as my final destination for a couple of reasons. I knew someone here who was willing to help me with a place to stay. This friend also had a network of other creative friends and that provided an incentive to hit the ground running. Going somewhere nobody knew me also meant that I could create my own narrative. A chance to start over and do things my way. The time I had spent in the outback living in a community of just over 1000 people also influenced this. I knew how to live in small populations and also knew that it’s less likely in a country of 330,000 people that I would just fall through the cracks and end up homeless or working as an escort.

So I arrived broken and ready to heal which is possibly the most cliché thing you could say about someone moving here. I didn’t have an end date but also hadn’t convinced myself that I was going to be here forever. I had decided that if things worked I would stay, if not I would go somewhere else.

Jonathan was the creative director for Iceland’s entry to Eurovision in 2016. Here pictured with singer Greta Salóme (on his right).

In less than a year, through hard work and determination I had accomplished what I believe is more than I ever would have done if I had stayed in Australia. I made music videos for one of Iceland’s most beloved pop stars (Páll Óskar), one of which was nominated for music video of the year, was the creative director for Iceland’s entry to Eurovision, became a main stayer in the stand up comedy scene, now in my 13th year as a comedian I never imagined i would work as a paid comedian in Iceland, I have a successful gay comic strip (Bruce the Angry Bear) and with Hugleikur Daggson my podcast Icetraila is one of the most listened to in the country.

“Iceland is a beautiful country which I now proudly call home. The people here are like a family to me and just like any family they sometimes piss me off. I make fun of Icelanders all the time but just like with my own family, they may be idiots at times but they’re my idiots so back off.”

Iceland has taught me that I can be the boss of my own life and career. It’s also taught me that nothing is ever handed to you – unless you are Icelandic and have famous parents (I’m just kidding, or am I). Everything I have achieved here has been through hard work, determination and countless hours doing other things I hate to pay rent so that I can focus on what I really love. Almost like the end scene in the wizard of OZ, I had to go on a weird journey to discover that I had the power to do it all inside me the whole time, I just needed to sort of lose everything first to get there.

I went back to Australia for Christmas last year and it was fun but I can’t quite describe the feeling after 4 planes and almost 3 days of travel when I touched down to the snow-covered runway at Keflavík on new years eve and thought ‘Finally I’m home.’

“With my friend Ólöf Erla on my first day in Iceland.”

Iceland is a beautiful country which I now proudly call home. The people here are like a family to me and just like any family they sometimes piss me off. I make fun of Icelanders all the time but just like with my own family, they may be idiots at times but they’re my idiots so back off.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in my time here is that when you go somewhere new there will always be a honeymoon period where everything is shiny and new. You spend a while looking at this place through rose-coloured glasses but then eventually the honeymoon period is over and if you have things you haven’t dealt with before you came, they will eventually resurface.

Iceland is amazing but is just a country like any other. A place is what you make of it. You have to pay your dues and respect how things are done, you have to challenge things to make progress, which is one of the beautiful things about immigrants, but ultimately you need to remember that any place is exactly what you make of it. I don’t know if I will be here forever. Just over two years ago I thought I was going to be a doctor’s wife till the day I died. Nothing is forever but for now I certainly don’t have any plans to leave.

Note: The story of Jonathan Duffy is a part of stories that were originally read at an event called Distant Voices, during this year’s Reykjavík Pride, and are now published on GayIceland’s with the permission of the authors and help of the event’s organisers.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        Núðluskálin
        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        Seatours
        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

        600x400-seatours-tasting

        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

        600x400-seatours

        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -shags
        -kittiwakes
        -fulmars
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us


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