Puffins Gone Wild - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Puffins Gone Wild

Puffins Gone Wild

Published April 18, 2016

Iceland is a must-visit place. Looking at the nature and the atmosphere of the country, we can see why that is. The weird thing is that something as unimportant as a puffin (no offense to pelagic seabirds) has become the country’s main image. Especially for Reykjavík, where it seems you just can’t live without them.

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We have no idea at what point tourists started liking puffins this much. It’s not even the national bird (that poor, forgotten Gyrfalcon). But the Icelanders don’t seem to mind because they proudly keep opening up a bunch of puffin stores all around downtown Reykjavík. At Laugavegur alone we’ve counted 18 (!) to be exact. We began receiving thrills every time we passed a record shop, or vintage store (not often), or anything remotely un-puffined.

Nevertheless, not all puffin stores are created equal. There are many small, artsy boutiques that house several puffin-inspired art pieces but keep a curated, etsy-like charm about them. Then you have your puffin bigwigs; the titans of the Puffin Industry, if you will. A heavyweight puffin store may have a stuffed puffin, roughly the size of Gunnar Nelson, with its beak pressed against the shop’s window. These shops sell puffin-backpacks, puffin-mugs, puffin-slippers and just about anything they can transform into a puffin.

Apart from the opportunists, the majority of the population seems fed up with this puffinisation of the city centre. However, despite this annoyance, the mass influx of Iceland’s internationally loved ambassador shows no signs of abating.

Additional reporting by Jóhanna Pétursdóttir
Sketch of the Puffins by Minjie Su.

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