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What Are Icelanders Talking About?

What Are Icelanders Talking About?

Photos by
Stefán Pálsson

Published June 29, 2018

We are often lectured about how tourism is good for the Icelandic economy. The lectures are necessary, because, unless you own a tour company, it’s often hard to tell how we’re benefitting. Tourists are fine, but some tour companies seem to be putting their own interests above that of the greater community.

One great example of this is Reykjavík’s ongoing civil war between tour bus companies and everyone else. The city instituting a downtown no-go zone for larger buses is on the honour system, with little enforcement, but the latest front is in the residential east Reykjavík neighbourhood of Hlíðar.

As can be seen in the above photo, tour buses have taken to using one street of this neighbourhood, Skógarhlíð, as their own personal parking lot. They park on sidewalks. They offload huge groups of noisy tourists at all hours, when people are trying to sleep. They narrow the passage for cars and cyclists by parking a long row of buses along the side of the street. They are, in other words, a nuisance. City authorities are reportedly “looking into it”.

Party soft!

Secret Solstice came and went, and their days may be numbered. The music festival has had some fumbles in the past, but things may be coming to a head now. Police said they made more than 90 drug arrests at the festival and had to intervene in nine physical assaults. Icelanders under 20-years old also managed to get into areas where alcohol was being sold, although it is uncertain how many cases of underage drinking came up.

What is clear is that residents in Laugardalur, where the festival is held, have issued a joint statement to the City of Reykjavík demanding that the city terminate its contract with Secret Solstice. They contend that young people practically overran the neighbourhood, were openly selling drugs and making a lot of noise, to the point where parents felt compelled to keep their children indoors. So maybe next year, the festival will be held in a spot that isn’t virtually surrounded by residential housing.

Has the blue wave crested?

Still high on Iceland’s remarkable 1-1 tie with Argentina at the World Cup, many looked forward to the match with Nigeria full of confidence, while others were more cautiously optimistic. As it turned out, the first half of the match had no goals, with the Icelandic team seeming listless and distracted, and then Nigeria scored two goals in the second half by the 75-minute mark.

More galling to fans was the missed penalty shot from Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, dashing any hopes of a late-game comeback. Their defeat to Croatia was the final nail in the coffin, and fans were upset, but hey, have you never ever made a mistake at your job? We didn’t think so.


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