Shopping in Reykjavik

Reykjavik does not have a wealth of shops to explore but the ones that the city does have  seem interesting and unique.

  • 12 Tonar—both a record shop and an independent record label that has a café and sells music by popular Icelandic artists such as Bjork, Agent Fresco, FM Belfast, and Dikta; Skolavoraustigur 15
  • Anna Maria Design—a workshop and store that sells a variety of jewelry for men and women made from materials that include silver, gold, and Icelandic stones; Skolavoraustigur 3
  • Gallery Fold—an art gallery that has a large selection of prints, drawings, paintings, and sculptures by modern Icelandic artists and older Icelandic art; Rauaararstigur 12-14
  • Handprjonassambandid—the Handknitting Association of Iceland’s outlet selling hand-knit items of various kinds; Skolavoraustigur 19
  • Islandia—a store that sells woolen items, gifts, and souvenirs; Kringlan Mall
  • JS Watch Co—the official watch of the Icelandic Coast Guard and a celebrity favorite and a watchmaker that sells nicely crafted timepieces; Laugavegur 62
  • Kormakur and Skjoldur—a men’s store that sells men’s clothing and hair accessories with brands such as Bertie and Wooster’s of London which sells threads, cuff links, and designer clothing; Harris Tweed; and Ben Sherman; Laugavegur 59
  • Kringlan Mall—a mall with a variety of decent clothing stores, a movie theater, and souvenir shops; Kringlun 4-12
  • Kronkron—owned by an Icelandic couple who are known for their designer footwear in all sorts of colors and silk clothing; Laugavegur 63b
  • Lucky Records—a record store that has the largest collection of vintage and contemporary vinyl in Iceland and also has performances by underground and new alternative bands; Rauaararstigur 10
  • Smaralind—one of Iceland’s two major shopping malls located in Kopavogur, a neighboring community, that has the British-based Debenhams and Iceland’s hypermarket chain store, Hagkaup; Hagasmara 1

Shopping in Toronto

Shopping in Toronto seems to be an expensive pastime but some of the stores seem interesting enough even if you can only afford to browse the racks and shelves. There are internationally renowned stores and brands that are certainly worth checking out.


  • 401 Richmond—a refurbished industrial building with a photography and art gallery, an artist collective, a music store, a café, and a design book store; 401 Richmond Avenue
  • Annie Aime—a clothing store with street style pieces by Canadian and French designers; 42 Ossington Avenue
  • Any Direct Flight—a contemporary and retro-inspired designer clothing store with hats, sweaters, dresses, boots, and clogs; 1382 Queen Street East
  • Aritizia—a clothing store with trendy pieces by TNA, Wilfred, and Talula; 280 Queen Street West
  • Bergstrom Originals—a designer clothing store with bold and bright designs by Christina Bergstrom including dresses and tunics; 781 Queen Street East
  • Big Carrot Natural Food Market—a health-food market with organic produce, health and beauty products, vitamins, a vegetarian café, and freshly prepared foods; 348 Danforth Avenue
  • Black Market—a basement clothing store with band T-shirts, faded jeans, shoes, and biker jackets, and inexpensive sunglasses; 256A Queen Street West
  • Bungalow—a vintage shop with Hawaiian and secondhand T-shirts, dresses, and jeans; 273 Augusta Avenue
  • Corktown Designs—an affordable jewelry shop with several Canadian-designed pieces that are unique and handmade; 5 Trinity Street
  • Courage My Love—a vintage store in Kensington Market with pieces such as sunglasses, sundresses, cowboy boots, Indian-inspired clothing, costume jewelry, and buttons; 14 Kensington Avenue
  • Davids Tea—a tea shop with 150 stainless steel containers of categorized and color-coded easily identifiable teas and tea accessories; 2010 Queen Street East
  • Doll Factory by Damzels—a 1950s-inspired designer clothing store by designers Damzels in this Dress who have gingham and sailor-inspired pieces, shoes, high-waisted bikinis, parasols, and totem mugs; 1122 Queen Street East
  • Durumi and Chocolate Shoes—two adjacent boutiques—one sells Korean-inspired pieces such as floral hair pieces, socks, pocket watches on chains, blouses, and capris and the other sells baseball caps and ballet flats; 416 Queen Street West
  • Eaton Centre—a block-long shopping complex with industrial ceilings with Sears and H&M as anchors as well as The Bay, a Canadian department store; and three floors of merchandise arranged by price (first floor is the most affordable while the third floor is the most expensive); 220 Yonge Street
  • Feheley Fine Arts—an art gallery with modern and unique Canadian Inuit art; 65 George Street
  • Fred Perry—a brand developed by a 1940s Wimbledon champ, Fred Perry, that has been a staple of British youth for years; 964 Queen Street West
  • Gadabout—an antique shop with housewares, handbags, costume jewelry, blankets, and vintage clothing that ranges from the 1800s to the 1970s with a large men’s section along with curio display cases and miscellaneous items; 1300 Queen Street East
  • George C—a three-story Victorian-style refurbished store with shoes, bags, and clothes from French, Italian, American, and Australian designers—shoes can even be custom ordered in a preferred color and material; 21 Hazelton Avenue
  • Getoutside—a shoe store with top brands such as Hunter, Birkenstock, Converse, Vans, Sperry, and Minnetonka; 437 Queen Street West
  • Gotstyle—a clothing store for men and women with stylish business clothes for men and dresses and outerwear for women; 21 Trinity Street
  • Gravity Pope—a Canadian designer clothing chain with designers such as Paul Smith and Reigning Champ and more than 2,000 pairs of shoes; 1010 Queen Street West
  • Harry Rosen—a designer men’s clothing store with casual and formal apparel by designers such as Hugo Boss, Armani, and Zegna; 82 Bloor Street West
  • Hatley—a children’s boutique with nature-inspired clothing; 2648 Yonge Street
  • Heel Boy—a shoe store with special styles by brands like Camper, Ugg, TOMS, Colcci, and Dolce Vita as well as environmentally friendly bags by a Canadian brand, Matt and Nat; 773 Queen Street West
  • Holt Renfrew—a large specialty department store that is known for its stylish clothes by Burberry, Canali, Chanel, Donna Karan, Armani, and Gucci as well as European cosmetics and fragrances; 50 Bloor Street West
  • I Miss You Boutique—a high-end consignment shop with designer clothing by Pucci, Dior, and Yves Saint Laurent; 63 Ossington Avenue
  • IQ Living—a housewares store with ceramic cookware, dinnerware, nesting bowls, utensils, insulated lunch boxes and bags, and popsicle molds; 542 Danforth Avenue
  • James Perse—a California-based brand with neutral colored cotton clothing such as T-shirts, fatigues, fleece, button-downs, striped sundresses, and long-sleeved shirts for women; 18 Hazelton Avenue
  • Kid Icarus—a unique printing store with retro designs, screen-printed postcards, art supplies, niche-oriented books, and crafts; 205 Augusta Avenue
  • Lady Mosquito—a Peruvian accessories store with chunky necklaces, brooches, dangly earrings, and embroidered handbags; 1022 Queen Street West
  • Lululemon Athletica—a popular Canadian athletic brand with yoga-specific apparel such as sports bras and yoga mats; 342 Queen Street West
  • M0851—an industrial-type shop with leather jackets, weather-proof coats, leather bags, accessories, and twill jackets; 38 Avenue Road
  • Mephisto—an established brand of walking shoes made from natural materials; 1177 Yonge Street
  • Morba—a Scandinavian furniture store with furniture and light fixtures as well as vintage and retro pieces; 665 Queen Street West
  • Motion—a boutique with stylish apparel made of cottons, linens, and wool along with accessories; 106 Cumberland Street
  • New Era Cap Company—an athletic cap store with caps from several major league baseball, NFL, Canadian football league, NBA, and NHL teams; 202A Queen Street West
  • Pink Tartan—Canadian designer Kimberly Newport-Mimran’s flagship store selling tailored oxford shirts, little black dresses, fitted trousers, shoes, and accessories; 77 Yorkville Avenue
  • Putti—an early 20th century furniture store with reproduced furniture, home accessories, and French toiletries; 1104 Yonge Street
  • Roots—a two-story flagship store with perennial favorite leather jackets, bags, and basic apparel; 100 Bloor Street West
  • Rotate This—a music store selling indie and underground music from around the world as well as magazines, concert tickets, and other items; 801 Queen Street West
  • Lawrence Market Complex—an indoor market with almost 70 vendors selling fish, meats, produce, caviar, and crafts and has a Saturday morning farmers’ market; 91 Front Street East
  • Swipe Design Books and Objects—a bookstore with books on advertising, art, and architecture as well as modern gifts such as toy blocks and high-rise vases; Ste. 121, 401 Richmond Street West

A Heartbroken Symphony

A heartbroken cry sounds in the night
In the city of light darkness arrives
A heartbroken human symphony begins to play
The world mourns
The world weeps
The world needs peace
Quiet descends
The conductor begins anew
A new symphony for a troubled society
A heartbreaking symphony
A sad requiem
Will life ever be the same?
We are left to wonder
What madness is this
When we cannot live without war
When we cannot live without peace
Simple lives made more difficult
Resonating to the same sad song
And once more
The heartbroken symphony plays on
In a world of chaos and confusion
I question the world that we live in
Hoping for resolution
But have little reason to believe
That anything will be the same again
And so I am immersed
In this everlasting symphony
When terror has struck
We are left scared and scarred
Emotions at play
Let the conductor play his song
And one day may we unite as one
For a moment or two
And listen to the symphony together

My Take on the VMAs

This year’s Video Music Awards was once again an unpredictable affair with the eccentric and provocative Miley Cyrus hosting the show. She wore an ever-changing wardrobe of very revealing outfits that seemed to be all for shock value. She was the wild Miley Cyrus that we’d seen a couple of years ago when she was twerking during a performance with Robin Thicke.
Miley was the focus of an acceptance speech by Nicki Minaj who opened the show in a great performance with Taylor Swift. Nicki called Miley out on her comments on her in the media and Miley tried to brush off her criticism by saying that the media likes to manipulate stories. Nicki was much more gracious to Taylor Swift despite the fact that they’d also had somewhat of a social media feud. They definitely seem to have buried the hatchet with their opening performance together.
I have watched the VMAs since I was twelve and while I do love the outrageous behavior and craziness that goes on I am a huge fan of the amazing performances I have witnessed. This year was no exception to this with great debut performances by Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, and the Weeknd. They demonstrated that they can truly perform well live and their performances were some of the highlights of the show.
This year saw the return of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to the VMAs in their downtown LA set when he performed his fantastic new single “Downtown” that made me want to download the song immediately after hearing it. He has always brought an innovative sound to rap and hip hop that is ideal for music lovers who are not as into very hardcore rap and hip hop jams. I think he is certainly still an artist to watch.
Acceptance speeches could always be entertaining as well with Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Taylor Swift having some interesting speeches. Kanye was his usual egotistical self when he declared that he was going to run for president in 2020 during the acceptance speech for the Video Vanguard Award which is MTV’s equivalent of the Lifetime Achievement award for contributions to music. He is someone that craves attention and while I don’t always like his antics he has made some solid contributions to music. He helped pave the way for emerging artists to break into the spotlight.
Overall, this was a very interesting year for the VMAs where Taylor Swift captured four Moonmans and allowed the director of some of her best videos to speak when she accepted the award for “Best Female Artist.” She brought her ever-growing squad with her and although there had been whispers of tension between her and Selena Gomez; they seemed to be quite friendly with each other during the show. Taylor Swift showed with her success at this year’s awards that she has successfully evolved from a country star to being one of the most popular pop artists around.
What I disliked the most about the VMAs this year was the uneven hosting by Miley Cyrus. She seemed to stretch the boundaries too much with her antics on stage and although it was all done for the attention I thought it detracted from the rest of the show. The rest of the show was solid and I just wish that she didn’t have to steal attention away from some of the other musicians there. She just seemed to be weirder by the minute and although I have liked some of her recent music I didn’t like having her as the host of this awards show.
I think the breakout stars who performed this year like the Weeknd and Tori Kelly definitely may have gained some new fans with their performances particularly the Weeknd. The Weeknd’s performance was my favorite one as he danced in the midst of fire when he sang the extremely catchy “Can’t Feel My Face.” It was very cool and everyone in the audience seemed to really be swept up by the energy he brought to the stage. He’s definitely someone who will go far in his quest to become the next big pop and R&B star.
I’d have to say that my take on the VMAs is that it was a good show with plenty of excitement and drama. It was everything that could be expected from MTV’s annual spectacle and while nay-sayers always complain about MTV and their lack of emphasis on music videos (I can agree with that wholeheartedly) I think that there is something to be said about an awards show that has been aired since the early 80s. Obviously something’s working if it’s been on for so many years. It pushes the boundaries of what is accepted socially and it is one of the most hotly anticipated awards shows of the year.
I don’t think Miley will be a host again but I do think there has been some fresh interest in some of the musicians who performed this year. Will I continue to watch the VMAs next year? I think I will because music has always been a passion of mine and I always want to see who’s going to change the landscape of music. We’ll have to see who will really become more successful after their appearances on the VMAs this year and who will lose fans due to what they brought to the show.
As a music lover the VMAs are certainly worth watching. You may not like MTV but they put a lot of effort into producing this show year after year. You may not even know some of the performers but once you listen to them your opinion of them may change. In regards to the VMAs and music I think that MTV really puts the artists who may not have a big following out there and get more people to want to listen to them and that is something I really appreciate. Just remember to always expect the unexpected when you watch this show.