Published March 9, 2010
With an afternoon to kill and a wallet full of cash, I naturally headed to the mall where I could spend not only my time, but also my money. Although I had a hunch that my 5,000 ISK was not going to put me on an extravagant shopping spree, there is allegedly always fun to be had at Kringlan, which is Iceland’s oldest shopping mall.
I didn’t quite know where to begin, what with “150 shops, restaurants and services to choose from,” so for tips on how to spend my time and money I sought the advice of the more experienced mall rat. And it wasn’t long before I spotted just the group I was looking for kicking it by the elevators —three hip teenage girls sporting black furry hooded jackets, skinny jeans and colourful hi-tops.
I explained my situation and asked whether they could help me out. With a who-are-you-and-why-are-you-talking-to-us-look plastered on their faces, they suggested I buy a shirt, which I might find for less than 5,000 ISK or else hit up Hagkaup for some reasonably priced make up. Neither of these ideas really appealed to me. So I asked them what else they do at the mall because surely they don’t spend 5,000 ISK on shirts and makeup everyday. Ah ha! I found out that Stjörnutorgið (“Star Square”) is the place to hang out.
After thanking them for their help, I headed off to Stjörnutorgið, food court and teenage hangout. But first, because I was feeling slightly unhip, I stepped into Skór.is to see if I could pick up a pair of jazzy hi-tops. Sure enough the shelves were full of them. I grabbed a metallic gold, silver, blue and purple shoe from the top shelf, flipped it over and read the sticker price—a whopping 20,000 ISK. Needless to say, I put the shoe back on the shelf and walked out.
Slightly bummed, I rode the escalator up to the second floor and scanned my fast food options— Rikkí Chan, Subway, Sbarro, Dominos—and then my eyes fell on Metro, Iceland’s homegrown McDonalds replacement. And just my luck, it was Star Day at Metro, which meant I could order an entire meal, including one burger, one French fries or carrots, and one drink for 799 ISK.
I grabbed my tray with the Góðborgari (“Good burger”), cup of carrots, and soda water and sat down at an empty table. It had been ages since I had eaten at McDonalds, but I’m sure this burger was of superior quality meat and bread. The carrots, however, were by far the noteworthy part of the meal. Their orange colour notwithstanding, they literally looked like french fries in shape and form. What’s more, they were even good with ketchup.
After finishing my meal, I was thinking about what to do next when my phone rang. It was my cousin and I invited him to join me for a beer. It was almost five when we sat down at Á Næstu Grösum with two Icelandic Gull beers, which cost 1,520 ISK. I dumped the remainder of my money on the table and counted 2,600 and some change. I had been at the mall for nearly two hours and I had purchased 0 hip hi-tops, 1 burger, 1 cup of carrots (w/ketchup), 1 soda water and 2 beers.
Well, I still had some time and money to spend. So, after hydrating ourselves, we headed to Hagkaup to raid Nammiland (“Candyland”), the bulk candy aisle. Getting a bland í poka (mixed candy in a bag—an Icelandic classic) is always fun, especially when you can fill it with monkey faces, caramel bombs, banana bombs, caramel animals, keikos, erasers, bombs, liquorices strips, deeps, and chocolate balls. The cashier weighed my loot and rang me up for 363 ISK. Not bad, not bad.
With about 2,300 ISK and nothing in my hands except a quickly diminishing bag of candy, I decided to go to Eymundsson with the goal of finding something a little more lasting, like a good book. Books in Iceland are generally pretty expensive, but I was able to find Ævintýraeyjan (Frozen Assets) by Ármann Þorvaldsson for 1,900 ISK, marked down from 4,900. After spending the entire afternoon in the haven of consumer culture, it somehow seemed appropriate to buy a book about Iceland’s economic meltdown.
Finally, determined to spend every last króna, I made one last stop at Tiger, which is Iceland’s equivalent to the 99-cent store. There were all kinds of nifty things to choose from, but it was really a no-brainer. The roll of Sudoku toilet paper was a must. So there went the last 300 ISK and I was spent.