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A Local’s Guide For Tourists On How To Befriend The Locals

A Local’s Guide For Tourists On How To Befriend The Locals

Published August 21, 2012

So you’ve seen it all. You’re on your third Golden Circle and you probably know more about Icelandic geography than any local high school student. You’ve spent all your money on watching whales and the rest of your gold was eaten by the bars. You are lonely and penniless in Iceland and what you really need is a friend. The people you came here with are not your friends anymore, you’re so sick of them that you are on the verge of hating yourself simply for being their friend. You have a few days left. You have emptied the minibar. What to do?
Here is a guide to getting a bit closer to the locals. I’m not talking about sex. The airlines provide that kind of information. I’m simply talking about platonic friendships, if you need someone to lighten your spirit, join you in a crazy tequila fiesta, someone to wake up in a dumpster with, reeking of fish oil.
1. Numero uno—and this is one of the biggest tourism conspiracies in this country. If I disappear after writing this article, it’s probably because I let you in on this secret. Here it goes: Take off that bright coloured coat. Even if it’s a normal shade, like black, grey or maybe white—one of those colours that doesn’t give you a third degree welder’s flash in a second—it will still keep you warm. Trust me.  Icelanders are insanely shallow and fashion aware people and you just have to join in the nonsense.
2. Seek out the right crowd. Find someone over thirty that is professionally obliged to tell you the truth. This person may be a bartender or some of the hostel staff. Or that hot guy from the whale watching thing. Tell them who you are and what kind of company you are looking for. You don’t want to be outnumbered by latte-drinking Eurohippies in your Wall Street suit.
3. Speak English. It’s fine. We don’t expect you to do anything else. Don’t think making an attempt to speak the language will get you anywhere. Icelanders are very sarcastic and judgemental when it comes to that sort of thing.
4. Throw away your street map. Do it. No, really. Throw it away. All you need is this paper you are reading right now. Why? Because I said so. Talk to the locals about where to go and what to see. You stand a better chance of getting acquainted with people and besides, most of the interesting cafes and bars switch locations every two months, so any map that tells you that this place or the other is the tits is full of lies, unless it was published this morning.
5. Start smoking. It’s such a fine way to get to know the people, if you don’t mind the yellow fingers, stained teeth, smelly hair, the insane price of tobacco and the slow and painful death that follows.  It makes you look cool, and slightly suicidal. You will also become better acquainted with Iceland’s lovely weather, as smoking indoors is strictly prohibited.
6. Go swimming. There are loads of young people, especially in the hot tubs. Some are even good looking. Since you’re not from around here you’ve probably got some fabulous tan lines and exotic swimwear. And boy, do we like tan lines.
7. Yes, do get some tan before your arrival. Not like bottle tan, or beauty pageant tan. I’m talking about the kind you get when you are gardening. It makes you look exotic, as most of the locals are greyish looking; for them, that yellow thing in the sky is merely a myth.
8. Read books. Smart people are more interesting. This applies to any friend making method anywhere in the world. You can also pull the cynical sarcastic type. Sarcasm works. Go to the bar and tell them you had a wonderful day in the nice weather and the most awful thing that could happen to you now would be a nice, cold beer and a shoulder to cry on. Hilarity will ensue.
9. Smile, but not too much. We as a rule are not smilers, due to our horrible dental healthcare system. It’s not because we don’t like you, so please do not take it personally if everyone seems a bit angry looking.
10. Ask around for information, it makes us feel important and feeling important is the national sport. Where is the bathroom, which direction is the ocean? It’s all good. We love you. Welcome.


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So What’s This I Keep Hearing About Everything Being Terrible in Iceland?

So What’s This I Keep Hearing About Everything Being Terrible in Iceland?

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In Mid-November Unnar Steinn Sigtryggsson, an Icelander who goes by the username “askur,” made a comment on popular internet community Reddit. He recounted the major news events of the last few weeks in Iceland. However, unlike most bullet point lists of Icelandic news stories, this one went viral. Has the news in Iceland been unusually full of kittens licking baby turtles? More like political scandals, strikes, vermin infestations, protests, police behaving badly, and economic mismanagement. To an audience used to hearing stories about how wonderfully Iceland had dealt with the 2008 financial crisis, this was indeed newsworthy. Hold on a

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Dirty Holidaze

Dirty Holidaze

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December is by far the darkest and spookiest month. It is also the booziest, by far. The overwhelming joy one often associates with the annual Christmas frenzy increases the longing for a nightcap, the fright that correlates with mass expenditures in gifts and other holiday nonsense calls for some alcohol, and when you intend to bid farewell to the passing year you’ll want a bottle of liquor by your side. It seems there’s no avoiding dipping your toes (or your entire foot) into the tantalizing Jacuzzi of holiday vice. For this reason, behold: Grapevine’s guide to your Icelandic holiday binge

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Pagan Christmas

Pagan Christmas

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The idea of throwing a big celebration in honour of the birth of Christ is a relatively recent idea. Nobody knows exactly when he was born; guesses range from 7 to 2 BC and the date is a mystery. His date of birth was once estimated to be January 6, in an attempt to beat a competing holiday (the celebration of the virgin birth of Aion, the Hellenistic deity of eternity). In the process they borrowed the symbolism of the stables. Christianity is in the business of mergers and acquisitions. The date was later changed to December 25, partly because

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The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

The Encyclopaedia of Icelandic Holidays

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Aðfangadagur (Ath-founga-dager) December 24, Aðfangadagur, is the day Icelanders celebrate Christmas (as opposed to December 25 in most countries). The first half of the day usually goes towards finishing off all of the last-minute preparations, making food, wrapping presents, bathing and putting on nice clothes. Children are often occupied by the television set, as most stations broadcast a non-stop programme of cartoons throughout the day. Six o’ clock marks the official start of Christmas in Iceland, marked by state radio broadcasting the traditional “ringing of the church bells.” This is when most households sit down to enjoy a pleasant holiday

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WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

WAR ON CHRISTMAS: Finally, An Icelandic Front

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Anyone who’s followed American politics, or switched to Fox News over the holidays, knows that a full blown war is raging at this very moment: The War On Christmas. On the battlefield, the godless forces of Politically Correct liberals—who want to take Christ out of Christmas and thus destroy the very fabric of American culture—fight the patriotic and pious people over at Fox. Of course nobody residing the reality-based community has ever encountered this “War on Christmas.” It exists only in the fevered imagination of loudmouths like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, who use it to fill airtime, drum up

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Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

Wanted: The Icelandic Christmas Mood

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When they stop stacking the Rjómi (heavy cream) neatly on the supermarket shelves, you know Christmas is just around the corner. The Rjómi hasn’t disappeared though. Entering the walk-in cooler (don’t forget your jacket!) you’ll see a huge container spilling over with cartons and cartons of Rjómi. Frankly, stacking it is a waste of time; soon you’ll notice the mountain getting smaller as every single person takes at least one, maybe two or maybe five. Our consumer needs are this predictable before, during and after Christmas, because almost every single Icelandic household has the exact same family traditions. This uniformity

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