May 2015

About the Icelanders: of laufabrauð and rotten flour

May 29, 2015

For centuries, Iceland was an oppressed colony. Among other things this oppression took the form of a trade monopoly, in which the Icelanders, by law, were only permitted to trade with Danes – our colonial overlords. All merchants in Iceland were Danish, or Danish proxies, and the merchandise they profferred in return for Icelandic wares […]

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Otherworldly

May 27, 2015

Last year when we did our Ring Road tour, we spent the first night in a place called Þakgil, in the south. To reach it, you turn north at a turnoff just past Vík and drive inland for about half an hour. We had no idea it was that far, and were starting to think […]

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The Icelanders: exchanging one set of oppressors for another

May 25, 2015

I am perpetually fascinated by people’s histories and how they inevitably manifest in their present circumstances. The same goes for nations. A nation’s history tends to manifest in its present, just like an individual’s does. Take Iceland. For several centuries we were oppressed by our colonial overlords. Iceland became an independent republic in 1944, just over 60 […]

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About the Icelanders 9: Traffic culture

May 22, 2015

Earlier this week I wrote a brief rant treatise about the Icelanders’ irreverence when it comes to other people’s cars, and their motoring skills in general. I was not kidding about this. Once I had a conversation with someone who was working at one of the embassies in town. He told me that the ambassador […]

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Double rainbow

May 20, 2015

Last summer I did a fabulous tour around Iceland to distribute my books to retailers. We drove the south->north route, and one of our first stops was at Seljalandsfoss in the south, one of Iceland’s most stunning waterfalls [it’s the one you can walk behind]. As it happened it was a beautiful sunny day [one of the few sunny […]

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About the Icelanders 8: the ubiquitous practice of dooring

May 18, 2015

Not all of the Icelanders’ quirks are as endearing as their phone book shenanigans. Take their treatment of car doors, for example. If you live in Iceland you will undoubtedly soon notice that most cars more than a year old have numerous small-ish dents and scratches on their sides. This is because the people who […]

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About the Icelanders 7: weird phone book professions

May 15, 2015

Speaking of the phone book: did you know that, in Iceland, your profession is listed in the phone book, and you can make that profession be whatever you want? By which I mean: you don’t have to show up with proof of your profession if you want it to be listed in the phone book. […]

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Nature’s artwork

May 13, 2015

I am a fan of the small stuff. As much as Iceland’s magnificent natural wonders and open vistas can stun and amaze, I sometimes feel like the real beauty of this country is incorporated in the things that you see when you look down; when you look closer. Like those tiny flowers that you find […]

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About the Icelanders 6: on a first-name basis

May 11, 2015

Did you know that the Icelanders address everyone, from the president to the local garbage collector, by their first names? Children even call their teachers by their first names, and the Icelanders are listed by their first names in the phone book. The only slight deviation from this is that the head of state [a.k.a. […]

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Factoids about the Icelanders: Solon Íslandus

May 8, 2015

This illustration is by Iceland’s most famous vagabond, Sölvi Helgason, who called himself Sólon Íslandus. If the name sounds familiar it is because there is a restaurant/bar in downtown Reykjavík by that name. Sölvi was born into poverty in 1820 and from the age of six was fostered out to various farms. He started roaming […]

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