From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Published August 18, 2009

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour grape of the month
A case of POLAR BEER for your thoughts.
We’re not gonna lie to you: we really love us some beers. Some folks would call it a problem, but beer never gave us any problems. In fact, over the years, it’s solved most of ’em. A frosty glass of cold, frothy, bubblicious, golden-tinted beer has consistently failed to let us down.
In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson: “Mmm… Beer…”
Now, since we’re real pleasant and giving folks here at the Grapevine, we thought we’d share some of that wonderful POLAR BEER with you, our readers. Henceforth, until the end of days (or our Polar Beer-sponsorship program, whichever comes first), we will reward one MOST EXCELLENT LETTER with a case of the Polar Beer. You read right. A full case of beer. At your disposal.
Give us your worst:

Subject: Letter of the Week
Despite a major economocal crash the tourists keep coming to Iceland i run into them once in awhile holding maps in their hands wondering where in the hell are they going i help them out the best i can sometimes i run into young male tourists wondering where they can get some icelandic pussy and i say you came all the way to iceland to get some pussy? I ask them dont they have any in yr country and quote the great zen master Lafong “he who goes to sleep with sexual problems will wake up with answer in hand. ” What the hell is the matter with these guys?….what kind of propagandic pamphlets have they been reading? With all due respect there are some great lookin gals here but i have seen some foxey lookin psycho bitch´s wherever i roam on this planet. If yr famous , rich , different hell you can always get laid. I recommend lookin at mount Esja or  Gullfoss for ultimate tantric sexual pleasure….eat some rams balls and have a nice day.
Michael Pollock
Dear Michael,
we generally don’t take well to pressure such as naming your letter “letter of the week” in hopes of winning that case of Polar Beer we give away every issue but we decided to make an exception in your case as your letter was in fact a pretty good candidate for most awesome letter and also because we are all firm believers in the the teachings of THE SECRET which exclaim that vocally wanting things will usually make the universe grant them to you so we are awarding you MOST AWESOME LETTER for this issue because we do not want to disprove THE SECRET and the awesome philosophies espoused there in we also like your style of punctuation and are considering making it policy as things read better without all those pesky commas and periods and stuff holding you back.

Response to Hanna’s Letter
Let me just cut the crap and give it to you straight Hanna. I’m a foreigner, you’re a foreigner, and as outsiders to an eerily tiny community, we just have to be real about the situation concerning anyone who is slightly different. Yes, you will be left out. Icelanders don’t really have an interest of meeting anyone who is remotely different from them. Also, Icelanders have a limited view of the world, they’ll stare at anything out of the ordinary. Dark skinned people, disabled people,etc. In my experience, the older generations have been a little bit more understanding of culture and differences. Icelandic teenagers on the other hand are bratty, spoiled, and have no understanding of a world outside of Iceland or the importance of manners.
I’m married to an Icelander, and I have had the opportunity of meeting some wonderful Icelandic people. I’m grateful for that, but I will agree with the editor when he states that you have entered a land of assholes. And, please note that I said I have met SOME wonderful people. The assholes far outweigh the nice folks. It’s almost as if Icelanders view those completely opposite of them as not human. As if these ”other people” have no thoughts, feelings, or are unaware of their surroundings. The way Icelanders stare at others reminds me of the Medieval times, where they would showcase a giraffe, or a parrot at court. The xenophobia is unbelievable. Anyone who says Icelanders are openminded, and friendly are clearly joking themselves, or they’re tourist who only dealt with people who wanted to take their money.
Now, I don’t mean to offend anyone, but it’s the reality.
Dear J,
wow. Huh?

Yes all Icelandic people are the devil.
No just kidding, but look, you were born and bred here, you have no idea what it’s like for someone who isn’t European to live in a country like this..
    Sorry if I offended..
Hey J,
    no, you didn’t offend me. Your letter just sounds a little extreme – I have some problems taking it seriously. Jeez, I hope I shouldn’t take it seriously. I mean, teenagers are bratty and spoiled the world over. Most teenagers are assholes; it’s what being a teenager is all about. In any case, I don’t think any nation deserves to be judged on the merit of its teenagers.
Then again, I’ve never really been stared at here. I look pretty Icelandic, and can get around speaking Icelandic without a discernible accent (except for my Ísafjörður accent). I’d be pleased if some other readers voiced in. Is J right? Is Iceland a land of assholes? Do you get stared at and offended and stuff if you don’t look European? Or is J just being overtly sensitive?

I found the article on the ‘new breed of Iceland visitor´ very ironic. I´m half way through my six weeks in Iceland, and as an individual traveler, I have experienced rotten treatment, compared with the treatment given to couples, families, and groups.
At restaurants, I´m seated at the worst table, usually next to the toilets or kitchen.  At hostels and guesthouses, I´m given the worst room, again next to the toilets or kitchen, with a view to a garbage dumpster or major highway.  On buses, I´ve been asked to move seats, so that a shiny happy couple can sit together.  On tours, I´m expected to pay a ´supplement,´ sometimes 30% more than the listed price.
Can someone please explain to me why the Icelandic tourism industry so blatantly discriminates against solo travelers?  And why should any single gal/single guy waste their time and money on a country that would treat them so poorly?
    Robyn (Canada)
Dear Robyn,
    We don’t really respond to single readers. We are a family magazine, and we cater to families and couples for the most part. But we can maybe stick your letter in the listings section. Hah.
No, really? It sounds like you’ve had a rough turn at some places; you should definitely not be made pay a supplement fee. Do you really think your experience merits your complaints, or are you maybe exaggerating for dramatic effect? Boy, Iceland isn’t getting a nice turn in this letter section. Did you at least look at any nice waterfalls? Anyway, you should look at the bright side; at least you have a better chance of hooking up with strangers if you’re traveling solo, right?

Hey there.
    I’m flying all the way from Austin Texas so that I may wander about your sweet island of a country for a while. I may even frolic.
Frolicking or not, I come from a place where tattered jean shorts, American Apparel t-shirts, and magnificent beards are quite the norm, as are temperatures above 105.
So you’re probably wondering why this would concern the Grapevine.
My more traveled friends seem to think that I would fare better in another nation if I shaved my beard, which is a magnificent beard, just so you know. Some have even suggested I would be presumed homeless. As I tilted my head back to allow more room for laughter, the uncertainty started to creep in. Are they right? If I visit Iceland with a formidable mane, will I be subjected to scorn? Will I be forced to eat on the back porch? Will bartenders laugh as I order frozen banana daiquiris?
The internet is a big place, and yet I’ve had more than a smidgen of trouble trying to find the answer to this question.
Your/This publication seems to have the pulse of what’s gilded in awesomeness in Iceland.
So, I was thinking, maybe, perhaps, whomever you are that checks this email, if you find yourself with the even the tiniest free moment, to fill it with the joy of correspondence.
Are beards cool in Iceland?
Soon to be tourist taking pictures and asking directions,
Adam Rose
    beards are way popular in Iceland. It’s cold here, and they keep yr cheeks warm!
What’s weird is why they’re popular in Austin. I’ve been there, and it’s real hot.

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