Behind the scenes – Nanna Juelsbo

Destination Austurland recently launched a short branding film. We have asked Nanna, our main actress in the upcoming film a few questions about her experience on the set, her life in Austurland and her background.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and yourself?

I was born and brought up on the countryside in the northern part of Denmark and moved to Seyðisfjörður in August 2017. I have a background in journalism, and creative entrepreneurship is especially focusing on working with and engaging in art projects of various kinds. In Iceland, I work as the director of a small library. Besides this, I work as an independent writer, teach creative writing classes, run the local Seyðisfjörður Community Radio and lead yoga classes in town.

Can you describe Austurland in few sentences?

The first thing that comes to mind is “space.” Coming from Denmark being a very condensed country consisting primarily of fields and populated areas, it quickly dawned on me how much space you find in Austurland and how incredibly different the sceneries you are experiencing when hiking, driving, biking around are. The combination of the vast open landscapes, the mythical highlands, the hidden fjords, and the open sea takes my breath away. I feel very lucky to live in a place like this.

I have to mention the people as well. It has been a smooth ride being a new inhabitant in Austurland where pretty much everybody seems to know each other and people are keen on inviting strangers like me into their hearts and lives.

How has living in Seydisfjordur affected your life?

That is simple: more time and more space. I feel like I have been giving more hours in the day. To be very pragmatic, I think it is the short distances between places that allow me to spend more time on the things I find interesting rather than always being on the run from A to B like I have been used to when living in bigger cities abroad. And then space again: I often go on hikes, which is an easy activity in Seyðisfjörður – a town surrounded by mountains. You simply step out your door and start walking upwards. Another thing affecting my life here in Austurland is my friends of all ages. One day I eat pancakes with a middle-aged couple, and the next day I play football with the kids in town. I have no idea about any of the people’s ages. We never talk about age. Instead, we talk about the important stuff likes personal stories, interests, great football tricks and so on.

 

What surprised you the most during the shooting of the short film?

How many hours you spend in an icy wind on the top of a mountain to get 3 seconds of footage. I was really impressed by the film crew and their perseverance. Day and night we spent hours on the road to find the right locations and the perfect light for the shoots. It was a challenging experience to be a part of this production, and I am so glad that I got the chance!

What location was your favorite one in the short destination film?

I have many favorites, but I especially remember hiking in the highlands around Kárahnjúkar. Having heard a lot about the dam project, it was a big experience to see the Hafrahvammar canyon guided by a young Icelandic warden. We went in the middle of the night with very little light, and the quietness up there was incredible. No wind, no birds, not a single sound besides a rock occasionally breaking loose and falling into the deep canyon.

Last thing, what would you recommend for future guests to experience in Austurland?

I would recommend guests to escape the ring road and instead follow the dirt roads: visit the numerous fjords, take a hike in the highland around Mt. Snæfell and camp in the forest Hallormsstaðaskógur along Lake Lagarfljot.

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