There is coffee, and then there is coffee. The kind that makes your mouth foam with delight at the mere thought of it. The kind that can wake you up from a horrible day’s slumber, instantaneously dry your snow-wet feet, sweep the January blackness straight out of mind and bring you to a warm and fuzzy place where endless kittens run around playing with giant balls of yarn and those naked, married kids from the “Love Is” cartoon hang out by a fire. The kind that makes the trains run on time, and the government resign.The kind of coffee that makes everything alright. Kaffifélagið at Skólavörðustígur doesn’t always deliver such coffee, but it has been known to happen. And when it does, you’ll want to be there. Well. Maybe I’m exaggerating about the whole kitten thing. But the cup I just had over there certainly turned my day around and contributed a great deal to my happiness. And Kaffifélagið is such a likable little coffeeshop. They make their coffee according to the standards set by the Italian Espresso Council, and their interior decorations are black, and their staff (when you’re lucky) is usually very knowledgeable about the product they sell. That double-latté earlier kicked my ass. I suggest you try one. ‘
Historically, Iceland has seen volcanic eruptions at a devastating scale. Of those, the most prominent in the population’s memory, is the two year-long, late 18th century Móðuharðindi, an eruption in Lakagígar. The sky and sun were darkened, while ashes destroyed pastures, and temperatures sank, leading to death of an estimated 75% of the country’s livestock and a fifth of its human population. Nowadays, the country is much better equipped to deal with any such incident. This was witnessed, albeit on a smaller scale, at the unforeseen 1973 eruption in Vestmannaeyjar: while the main island’s 400 homes were destroyed by ashes,
In case you missed reports, while traveling or otherwise enjoying Iceland’s ten days of summer, here are the latest news in brief, a summary of the last week or two. Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð warns that, should fresh meat imports be allowed, a virus, common in foreign meat-products, might cause Icelanders to behave like foreigners. The populations of Britain and Norway still seem to behave normally, as they remain relatively Toxoplasma-free. That was the day after the Minister complained, on Facebook, that the Icelandic media did not pay due attention to Iceland’s weightlifting champions. It seems a countryman just won
Last week, the Russian government announced they would respond to Western sanctions over the situation in the Ukraine with some economic sanctions of their own—a full embargo on food imports from the EU, the US and several other Western countries. Norway, which is on the list of embargoed countries, is hit especially hard, Russia being the single most important market for Norwegian seafood exports last year. Immediately, many Icelanders exclaimed that this was great news! Fish exporters seemed especially happy, because—for some reason—Iceland was not included on the embargo list. The funny thing was, nobody knew for certain why. A
In Iceland, labour unions and employers’ organizations negotiate to establish parameters for pay and other benefits. Earlier this month, a 22-year-old new hire of Lebowski Bar made the not unreasonable demand of being paid according to the general wage contract. Apparently, her employer, instead of paying different rates for weekdays, weekends and nights—as is required by law—paid out a single hourly wage for all times of day and night. This isn’t ‘Nam. This is a paycheck. There are rules. Yes, the bar is named after ‘The Big Lebowski,’ but there is no need to make this article a collection of
I recently attended the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík’s annual American Independence Day celebration, a lively event with great music, a delicious American-style buffet, a host of accomplished people and an abundance of patriotic spirit. As I scanned the mingling crowd, I recognised several highly-distinguished Icelandic guests, including former president Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and newly-elected Reykjavík mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson. However, as the evening wore on, I realised that one important American figure was noticeably absent from all the festivities: Robert Barber, President Obama’s nominee to replace Luis Arreaga as U.S. Ambassador to Iceland. When I returned home later that evening, I
When I was 20 years old I decided to enter the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts in Reykjavík. My grandfather voiced some doubts, but my parents were OK with it. But one day I met a distant cousin of mine on the bus, who said: “You’re going to the School of Arts and Crafts? Why? You want to learn how to knit?” This was back in 1979, way before Björk and Raggi Kjartans. This was the time when you only went to art school because you had this disease, this art disease, this ongoing inner desire to express yourself.