A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.
Mag
Articles
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.


Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Holuhraun Continues To Erupt

by

It’s been almost a month since the Holuhraun eruption started, and there doesn’t seem to be any indication of it stopping soon. Meanwhile, the Bárðarbunga caldera continues to subside, which means that it must still be feeding magma to the Holuhraun eruptive fissure. The surrounding area is still closed to the public (sorry!) due to high concentrations of poison gas and the continuing risk of flooding. In the last two weeks there has been quite a bit of air pollution (mostly sulphur dioxide, the one that smells like rotten eggs) due to gas emanating from the eruptive fissure. Daily forecasts

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Which Way 
The Wind Blows

by

“This is what we call a ‘washing board,’” our guide Kormákur Hermannsson says, his voice barely intelligible as we jostle violently on the bumpy mountain road. Indeed it feels like we are driving over one. It’s been nine hours since we set off from Reykjavík to see the Holuhraun eruption in Iceland’s remote highlands, and we are shaking. To our right, the sun is a blinding red ball peeking out from behind the clouds. Mount Herðubreið looms over an orange haze that blankets the horizon. We are still a few hours away from the eruption, yet its presence is unmistakeable.

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

One Man’s Miracle

by

Möðrudalur, one of the most isolated farms in Iceland, lies under the icy nipple of Mt. Herðubreið in the northeastern part of the island.  In 1919, a man named Jón Stefánsson bought Möðrudalur from one of his brothers.  Jón was a saddler and harness maker by trade. He was also an accomplished musician. At night he’d sit at his organ, and the echo of Bach sonatas, which he’d play backwards note for note, would sweep over Möðrudalur’s lava and empty sands. Jón was, to put it mildly, an eccentric. He’d wake up at 4am and get the farm labourers working

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Mexicans: They’re Everywhere!

by

When I began my search for Mexicans in Iceland, I was prepared to hear fantastic stories about cultural polarity. And that’s exactly what I got. From tiny Vopnafjörður we travel to the centre of it all, Reykjavík. This is the story of Rodrigo Aparicio, who found a second home in Iceland. What does “exotic” mean? For many, Mexico—with its countless ecosystems, dialects, blue shores, sandy beaches, archaeological sites and colonial cities—fits the bill perfectly. To Mexicans, “exotic” is perhaps the type of place where you’ll experience midnight sun and the Northern Lights, where folks aren’t coy about the human body,

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Höfði-San: Shrimp Salesman Built A Replica Of A Reykjavík Landmark

by

Iceland became the focus of world attention when US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met in Reykjavík in October 1986 to discuss nuclear disarmament. The powerful couple met at Höfði, a small villa on Borgartún, the street where the ghosts of the fallen Icelandic banking system roam today. Many of the banks had headquarters and offices on this street, which lies only a kilometre or so away from the city centre. Before the international financial crisis obliterated the overweight Icelandic finance industry, the bankers wanted to build huge towers and other mega structures in the area, which

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Independence Is Not A Disaster:

by

After decades of discussion on the political and economic details of a theoretically independent Scotland, the Scottish citizens finally face the vote that could bring this country into reality. The vote on the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, asking “Should Scotland be an independent country?” will take place this Thursday, September 18, 2014. “We have a shared interest” As part of the discourse on their potential independence, Scottish political leaders are looking to the Nordic countries as models in developing their social and economic policies. In addition to potentially modelling welfare and taxation on Nordic systems, other involvement ranges from applying

Show Me More!