From Iceland — Stuff You Might Want to Know

Stuff You Might Want to Know

Published October 13, 2010

Stuff You Might Want to Know

For all you new-to-town-ers, here a little something we put together to hopefully make your stay, ehrm… make a little more sense.
Airwaves. Five days of music, magic and utter madness at (almost) the top of the world. If this is your first time, prepare to be amazed, bemused, euphoric, exhausted, patient (those pesky queues), hung-over, and all round flabbergasted at the musical explosion that’s about to come your way.
Bakkus barge
. You’ll need to channel your inner Viking to make it through a night unscathed in the shoulder-to-shoulder, grinding, mishmash that is Bakkus on weekends. No room for mild manners here, just get in there, howl at the moon and shake yr. thang!
Kiss it goodbye. You’re in Iceland. Nobody cares.
Demonstrations. Should you wish to partake in this increasingly popular Icelandic activity (it’s actually kind of retro now), it’s worth noting that the items of choice for hurling at substandard politicians (or the house they work at) are eggs and skyr (see: Yoghurt)
Eldur & Ís. Located on Skólavörðustígur, this is an ice cream shop, travel and booking service all in one. So you can lick on your ice cream while you choose what part of this magical land you’d like to visit next. Useful, and random, we imagine. 
Free films. With Iceland shorts and documentaries ongoing at the Culture House, hangover movie nights at Prikið on Sundays, and cult classics at Bakkus most Mondays, there’s no shortage.
Groundhog day?
When you start to see the same car driving down Laugavegur over and over, or the same person standing in their doorway at the same time everyday, don’t freak out! You’re not in a Bill Murray remake; you’re just in a small town.
Hangover cure.
Open the windows wide and take a hot sulphur-y shower. Next get yourself to Prikið for their rockin’ mornings, where a full breakfast comes with a side of aspirin and a shot of Jack Daniel’s. Then it’s Kókómjólk and espresso at regular intervals, until it’s beer o’ clock again. Repeat as necessary. Sorted.
Illegal substances.
Well, they’re illegal. You can probably find some if you really want them – they will be expensive. But don’t be an asshole about it.
Jón Gnarr.
Reykjavík’s mayor – a former anarchist, actor and stand-up comedian – who admits that he knows little about politics and turned up to this year’s Gay Pride parade in full drag.
Kaffi and coffee house culture in Reykjavík. There are tons to choose from, but try Babalú, Kaffismiðjan, Tíu Dropar and Café Haiti for a chilled afternoon break. Oh, and C is for Cookie who have amazing homemade cakes.
Lopapeysa. The proper name for those fuzzy, woolly Icelandic sweaters us foreigners have wanted for years. Best bet is to check out the Kolaportið (flea market) at weekends and haggle your way to a bargain.
McDonalds. As in, there isn’t one. The fast food giant left Iceland late 2009 when the devaluation of the króna made the cost of importing a kilo of onions equivalent to a bottle of good whiskey. Who cares? Go to Vitabar.
Nature. You’re in it. Right now. If you feel all these small houses and buildings surrounding you are oppressive, just walk any direction for an hour or two (or hitchhike any direction for fifteen minutes). 
Öl. It’s what you call ale (or beer) in Iceland. Impress your friends with your vast linguistic skills by sliding in that scorcher. BTW ‘Ö’ is pronounced: ‘uhhhhh’.
Party friends. Icelander’s make lots of party friends on a night out. They might have been promising that you’d be pen pals for life, but please don’t be offended if they don’t return your eager “Hi!” when you pass them on Laugavegur the next day. They’re all shy alcoholics.
Quirky fashion. These Icelander’s often seem miles ahead when it comes to far out fashion, so if you want to get in with the in crowd, start getting creative. Maybe you can recycle that hiking jacket into a Mundi-esque jumpsuit? The sky’s the limit.
Random sex. Lots of that. It’s an island. There’s no IMAX theatre or anything. Go figure. But don’t be an asshole about it. It’s not like you deserve random sex or anything.
Sundlaugar. Swimming pools. Yup, soaking in a hot pot is the most authentic way to de-stress Icelandic style. It’s where people go to catch up on the gossip and generally have a muse about their own existence. It’s cheap too! Go to Sundhöll Reykjavíkur (Barónsstígur 45a – smack dab in the middle of 101 Reykjavík) – we also hear there’s going to be some off venue action at Vesturbæjarlaug!
Telephone directory. Rather uniquely, listings go by first name in the telephone book, and everyone is in there (except for that cute dude you met last night. You’ll never find him again). It also has a very informative section on what to do in case of a natural disaster.
Underwear. As in: your underwear. Strip down to it, and then run down the streets. All the kids are doing it, we hear.  
Vínbúðin. Don’t get caught out having to cadge booze from fellow friends at house parties (which you will get invited to, unless you’re a total douche): they won’t be impressed. The 101 Reykjavík branch of Vínbúðin, the state liquor store, closes at 6 pm Mon-Sat and 7 pm on Fridays (if you miss the downtown branch, there’s one in Skeifan that’s open ‘til 8 pm on weekdays). Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Weather. Never judge what to wear by looking out the window; the weather will have changed dramatically in about fifteen minutes. Be smart, wear layers. 
Every band in town seems to require an expert xylophone player at some stage, so if you’re looking for a golden pass to rock and roll glory (ehrm, ‘twee glory’), get practicing!
The country is mad for it. The most distinctive is Skyr – a thick, creamy blend that comes in a range of exciting fruit flavours (it’s actually more related to cheese, but it’s still more reminiscent of yoghurt). It’s super healthy and yummy, so stock up while you’re here.
Zzzzz – sleep.
Get some in before the fun starts all over again.

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