Every new year, publications reflect on the past, bundling up the last twelve months into various year-end lists. Some, like Time Magazine, which put Barack Obama on its cover this year, also choose a “Person of the Year,” who they believe stood out from the rest. In Iceland it’s customary for everything from horse publications to local radio stations to take part in the tradition. Big or small, there’s something to be learned from those who are chosen and one might even look to them as a model in our continued struggle to do and be better.
This year, for instance, listeners of national radio stations Rás 2 and Bylgjan both voted Eiríkur Ingi Jóhannsson as their “Person of the Year.” Eiríkur was aboard a ship that sank off the coast of Norway last January. The sole survivor of the accident, he endured nearly four hours in the open ocean before being rescued by helicopter. He recounted the experience in a moving 80-minute interview with Kastljósið, which can be watched with English subtitles right here.
In a slightly different version of the award, readers of the tabloid DV voted Hildur Lilliendahl Viggósdóttir as “Hero of the Year.” Through Hildur’s fight against male on female violence and the pervasive degradation of women in public discourse, she has faced personal attacks, threats and Facebook bans, as DV reports. In fact, she has had to withstand the wrath of DV’s very own readers, who leave notoriously brutal remarks in the site’s comments section, which incidentally featured in this year’s annual New Year’s Eve sketch comedy programme (See page 8).
Although we’ve thought about picking a “Person of the Year” in the past, we’ve never actually done it, not until this year when we decided that we too would take part in the tradition. However, as an unabashed tourism magazine, we thought it made most sense for us to pick a “Tourist of the Year.” And as soon as this thought crossed our minds, so too did the winner. Without a doubt, we thought, it’s the woman who was reported lost and took part in the search for herself this summer.
Tourist of the Year: The woman who found herself
As the story goes, an Asian woman was reported missing from a Reykjavík Excursions bus after it stopped at Eldgjá, in South Iceland. The search for this woman described as 20-30 years old, 160 cm tall, wearing dark clothing and carrying a small light-coloured handbag, continued into the early morning until it finally occurred to her that she was that “missing woman.” She had, yes, found herself.
In reality, she didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. It turns out that the bus driver had miscounted the number of passengers and also failed to recognise her after she changed clothes. However, this story made the news all over the world and brought us great joy. After all, many of us spend our whole lives, sometimes unknowingly, trying to find ourselves. She went to Iceland and did just that.
We spent some time trying to track her down, but still to this day she remains somewhat of a mystery to us. Neither the Hvolsvöllur police nor the ICE-SAR rescue team ever saw her or even knew her name, and whether or not Reykjavík Excursions knows more, they declined to give us any information. We still wonder just how something like this could have happened, but we are also content to enjoy the story for what it is.
If you’re reading this, woman who found herself in Iceland, send us your address and we will mail you your “Tourist of the Year” award.
Runners-up: Tom Cruise and the naked tourist
It wasn’t exactly a close race, but we toyed with a couple of other candidates. The first was noted actor and recent divorcee Tom Cruise who spent his summer on this fair island filming ‘Oblivion’ and returned to America singing our praises. We can’t be entirely sure, but there’s certainly a chance that his divorce had something to do with his love for Iceland and that just tickles our ego.
The second was the ‘Naked Tourist’ who was found running around the lawn of the Prime Minister’s Office. It turns out that he was pranked by a couple of girls who tricked him into the deed and then ran off with his clothes. That story left us sympathetic, but crying with laughter.
Will You Be Grapevine’s ‘Tourist Of The Year 2013’?
We are now officially accepting nominations for “Tourist of the year 2013.” Please submit your nominations on www.touristoftheyear.is to be considered. We will read them, post them to our website and print the best one come next January. Note: To be eligible, the tourist (this can be you) must have visited Iceland in 2013.