From Iceland — Sour Grapes & Stuff: Issue 18

Sour Grapes & Stuff: Issue 18

Published December 9, 2013

Sour Grapes & Stuff: Issue 18

Most awesome letter

If you return from a trip to Iceland with your emotions unscathed, then you are a stronger better man than I, Gunga Din. This is a land of majestic landscapes, waterfalls, which should make Niagra eat her heart out, and of a people of extraordinary resilience.


Everywhere we went there was friendliness and co-operation: the receptionist who seemed to multi-task in the hotel, the young man, of Viking build, who sat beside us in the cafe/restaurant and wanted us to see the sights and experience the countryside, the bus drivers who drove for kilometers on end and never a complaint was heard.

Iceland, please don’t do a somersault and return to the sea. The six million tourists you expect in 5 years would be seriously disappointed. Your people are proud of their traditions language and environment, being quite wary of the last. My name, that is, my last name, in the Gælic, means From the North, so part of me is part of you. Please don’t disappear.

Tommy Norris


Dear Mr. Norris:

We were very pleased to receive your four-page letter—handwritten correspondence is a dying art, and we are sad to see it go—and also very happy to hear that you had such a positive experience, with such competent guides, here in Iceland. Also, please rest assured that we have every intention of keeping our feet firmly planted well into the future: no somersaults. Or at least, not ones we can’t bounce back from.
Come and see us again sometime,

The Grapevine

Blása! Blása!…Blása aftur! (Do not drive slowly in Miklabraut)

Hello everybody! I would like to tell you about something that happened to me recently.

I have been living in Iceland for more than two years and I very seldom see any police around. In fact I thought there wasn’t any. Last Saturday I found out that the police is always there when necessary! Perhaps!

My daughter was giving a party for her birthday, and my wife and me decided to spend the night out and let her and her friends use the flat where we live. After eating out at a restaurant, where I drank a beer and lots of glasses of pure and fresh Icelandic water, we were curious to see, from the outside, what our daughter and her friends were doing at the party. Typical parents’ worries! We were satisfied to see they were having fun in a peaceful way and planned to spend the rest of the night in a pub. We were not in a hurry so I did not need to use a shortcut to go downtown: the longer the way the better. I turned into Miklabraut and drove slowly since I was also talking with my woman about our future in Iceland. However, all of a sudden something strange happened. A car behind us, very close and flashing.

What the hell! It was the police!…I decided to stop and turned on the direction lights. When I was getting off the car a policeman was already on me saying with a menacing voice: “Do not get off! Stay in the car…You’re drunk!” I tried to keep calm and replied “I don’t think I’m drunk. I was at the restaurant. I just had a beer! (“and a lot of water since the food was really spicy”), but it was more than two hours ago.” He wasn’t convinced at all….“You were driving too slowly! People who drive slowly are drunk!” “I beg your pardon? The speed limit is 60 km ph. Is there a minimum speed limit?” “No, but people usually drive very fast when they are in Miklabraut.” …He ordered: “Stay in the car! A colleague of mine is coming with the equipment soon.”

At last his colleague came! “Now, please, þú þarft að blása hér!” He ordered me. I breathed in and blew as hard as I could into a tiny tube connected to an electronic device with some digital numbers on it. I blew and blew, but the numbers did not show any signs of life. The two men were really disappointed by the test result, so they insisted I was not blowing hard enough. I breathed in again and strongly blew out all the air I had in my lungs. I did it three or four times. I was exhausted!…I didn’t even have the time to tell them they made a terrible mistake, that in a few seconds, after staring at the breathalyzer which showed zero point zero zero-0,00, they ran away without even apologizing.

So come on! You could have understood I wasn’t drunk without being so rude! The fact is that I was a bit scared by being stopped by the police for the first time in two years that perhaps I behaved in a strange way. Anyway, I learned the lesson! Now I know whenever I drive Miklabraut, I ought to remember not to drive too slowly, because policemen will stop me. They won’t if you exceed the speed limit! If it happens to you to be drunk, just drive fast and the police won’t stop you! Just kidding!

Michele Broccia

Dear Michele:

This is a truly strange story. Are you absolutely sure, sir, that you aren’t drunk right now? Luckily, many of us at Grapevine do not have cars, so we can probably avoid detainment on Miklabraut, either for driving too fast *or* too slow. Unless there is a law against walking while drunk…in which case, maybe we better start running home.

Yours in sobriety and haste,

The Grapevine

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