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YT the one-woman tourist board

Got an email from a reader in Athens, Greece, who is planning to visit our fair isle over Christmas and New Year’s and who presented our YT with a set of questions related to his upcoming trip. Seeing as how the information might be useful to the myriad other punters who are planning on doing the same [if the google searches I’m getting are anything to go by, there are many] I thought I’d post both the questions and the answers here. Doing my bit for king and country, as it were.

What would you suggest as something traditional to do over New Years Holiday?

~ Go out on New Year’s Eve and mix with the locals at the brennur – the big bonfires generally held down by the seashore. [In Reykjavík the one on Ægissíða is the best, in my opinion.] Then at midnight go up to Skólavörðuholt, in front of Hallgrímskirkja church, and observe the mayhem as Reykjavík residents shoot up fireworks worth the GDP of a small African nation within the space of half an hour. TIP: you may want to bring earplugs.

What are the possibilities of seeing the northern lights? (we are renting a vehicle so we have the opportunity to leave the city during the nights).

~ Hit and miss. If you’re lucky it will be cold and clear, the conditions needed for the northern lights to appear. Driving out of the city also increases the chances, what with light pollution and everything.

What would you consider to be the best public pool/water slides for families?

~ 1. Árbæjarlaug, 2. Laugardalslaug.

Best Traditional Icelandic food (I am a big fan of Seafood)?

~ At Christmas? Smoked lamb [hangikjöt], ptarmigan [rjúpa] if you can get it [you probably can’t], reindeer pâté, leaf bread [laufabrauð], smoked puffin. All those will be present at any Christmas buffet in the city [except maybe the ptarmigan], which are hugely popular around that time. If traditional Christmas isn’t de rigueur, then you can’t go wrong with seafood and lamb. Even the most basic restaurant will do good seafood [except, maybe, Icelandic Fish and Chips, as I found out to my dismay] and I can recommend Við Tjörnina [no I’m not getting a kickback – if only!] for great fish dishes.

Okay then! If anyone else has any questions, do send them in, we aim to please.

The last few days have been miserable, what with the freezing temps and particularly the strong wind from the north that gets in through every nook and cranny and just makes you feel so cold. BUT we’re in for southeasterly winds tomorrow and rain for the next few days, much to the chagrin of another reader – from the UK – who emailed yesterday to ask if the weather forecast he’d seen somewhere with temps of 7-12°C was really true. And I was forced to tell him that Iceland is, in fact, the most misnamed country on the planet, save for Greenland which obviously is in a league of its own. Temps crawling upwards, currently 4°C [39F] and sunrise was at 8:23 am, sunset due for 6:02 pm.



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