From Iceland — Sour Grapes & Stuff

Sour Grapes & Stuff

Published January 11, 2013

Sour Grapes & Stuff

Most Awesome Letter of the Issue
Dear Jón Gnarr,
Thank you for working so hard to make our city a great place to live in, while being a cool guy! As I’ve been following your work, you were stating a few times about the importance of public transportation, and your vision for the people of Reykjavik to stop driving so much. I think its a great initiative, truly am. But let me share a little story with you.
Me and my boyfriend are living in Reykjavik for the past few years, we both work and study downtown, so both for economic and ideological reasons we avoided buying car and trying to get by, by walking and biking. Each time however when we had to use the public transportation, we are astonished by the undeveloped infrastructure. Take this Friday for example. Early morning we had to go to office in Borgatún to sign some paper and get back to work fast. Borgatún is 6 km from our house, aka 10 minutes drive. Yet bus wise it takes 30 minutes each direction. Ok. So the new Stræ website layout made trip planing considerately more complicated, and also published wrong arrival time for the bus, so we missed the first bus by 3 minutes and had to wait for the next one for 15 more minutes, in an open bus station (someone thought that having glass walls around you on cold windy January morning is privilege). When finally reaching our destination, it turned out to take more time than we assumed, so our ticket expired and we had to buy new one. There is no payment with credit cards or phone, and no possibility to buy the ticket anywhere else rather on the bus, without getting change. So, here began our journey to find a place to withdrew money, find where to change it into exactly 700kr, waiting for the bus and embark on a 40 minutes trip to Grandi (where my boyfriend works). When calculating the time (2 hours) and money (1500 kr), we realized that Reykjavik is the probably the only capital in world where it’s faster and cheaper to use private transportation. Since now I will have to travel more often out of downtown due to work, we decided that in this city there is no option but to buy a car. I’m sorry that the system is so unfriendly for users that it breaks down even those who try to avoid buying a car. Unfortunately without massive change throughout the entire system, I don’t see how your vision of preferring public transportation over private cars, can be possible.
Juli Vol
Dear Juli,
Well said! There is something so incredibly frustrating about being in a country that claims environmental responsibility and encourages public transport, yet can’t get its act together to make their bus system’s website remotely manageable. (What was wrong with it before? Why did they change it? Why did they make it WORSE? IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FUCK IT UP.) Can we talk about the bus routes for a second too? Like how there are blocks and blocks where no bus stops, so you end up walking a lot anyway, but then places like Lækjartorg where they pile onto each other like monkeys in a barrel? And how the schedules for busses in consecutive numbers all piggy-back departures, so if you miss the 11 at 9:21, you’re gonna miss the 12, 13, 14 and 15 between 9:22 and 9:28! URHGH. You got us started, Juli. Slow clap to you.

(Disclaimer: this letter originally appeared on Mayor Jón Gnarr’s Facebook page and was later forwarded to us for print.)

Hey there,
it seems that you know everything around here (RKV) and I would like to ask for an advice:
If you are a foreigner (bought a house) and moved to Iceland: is a special office or service for us, where we can get answers about paperworks, the way things work here, legal advices about common things (like house funds etc) in iceland. Or someone, who can point out the right websites to get information?
Takk for your help,
Thomas B.
Dear Thomas,
We did a little snooping around for you and found out from the Homeowners’ Association of Iceland that foreigners who want to buy property in Iceland need to get special permission from the Minister of Justice prior to begin their house-hunt, but apparently it’s not that difficult to obtain. Supposedly! Be warned that the buying market right now is pretty bad though and a lot of properties have been grossly marked up, covering the debt incurred from the previous owners’ mortgage. Real estate in a post-crash country is no gravy train. But good luck, and get in touch with the aforementioned association for all your paperwork help needs!

I’m coming to Reykjavík for New Year’s Eve and I would like to know if there is a vintage photo booth (who does the 4 different black and white pictures) somewhere in the city?
Maybe in somme museums or galleries?
I tried to have a look on internet but I didn’t find anything.
I thought that maybe you should know.
Thxs for your time anyway.
Hi Anne-Cecile,
By now you’ve come and gone, but we felt like we should still answer your letter in case anybody else was wondering the same thing. In short, no, we do not have any of those vintage photo booths with the 4 different black and white pictures anywhere in the city.
Your best bet is to check out Berlin where you’ll find them all over the place. Alternatively, you could go to Palais de Tokyo in Paris and we think there is also one quite close to London Fields in London.
But you probably already knew that. Hope you enjoyed your stay!
Love, Grapevine

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