The Penis Museum
I asked ‘Information’ in Húsavik very politely how to find the Phallological museum. The girl replied very audibly. “You will see a massive penis outside!” There is no way to avoid the humour that comes along with a penis museum and there is no reason I would want to.
Sigurður Hjartarson, the owner, is obviously in good humour and is visibly intelligent. The Declaration inside the museum says that ten years of intense sociological and psychological investigation have revealed that visitors to the Icelandic Phallological Museum who truly appreciate its worth are made up of only those of above average IQ (intelligence quotient) and above the average HQ (Humour quotient).
The museum contains walking sticks, pen knifes and frying pans – all shaped like or made from animal penises. The telephone is shaped like a penis. Even the curator’s Christmas tie is made from tanned whale member. One of the more interesting displays is made from bull penis called a ‘pizzle’, used in Shakespearian times as a flogging instrument. It could also be stretched on wood to ‘simulate the ladies’.
I marvelled at the 200 species of animal genitalia on display, which Hjartarson attributes to the many fisherman, farmers and zoologists who are willing to donate specimens, but also at all the tiny details, artwork and cartoons that are donated to the museum; a gift from artist Y Beelen from the Vagina Museum in Rotterdam hangs on the wall, as the two museums bonded in their humour. The folklore section holds specimens from Merman, Elf, Sea Bull and Ghost..
The museum has 3 prospective donors for human samples. American donor Stan Underwood has two doctors already commissioned to operate upon death. Well Stan won’t use it.
The Penis Museum, Héðinsbraut 3a, 640 Húsavík
Open from 12:00 to 18:00 daily, Entrance: 500 ISK
Rafting into the Greenroom
“It’s about letting go,” Adventure Tours manager Björg commented, “Sometimes you can’t control things – that’s a very freeing thing.” White Water Rafting is dangerous for the bravest of people, and as a novice I was scared but eager to learn. Dissatisfied to simply ‘watch the trees go by,’ we dry-suited up and were taken to The East River. Taught the moves and survival skills, we were deemed ready and placed into the water.
Rafting is never completely safe, but what is fun is the water, what is great is the ride. And if you fall in, then lucky you – you got more fun than anyone. Adventure Tours trained guides and safety-boaters were ready to swoop in if we ended up in any real danger.
The East River is the most entertaining in Europe. Although I was sheepish and slightly nervous, I soon realised we were in good hands. Once our guide found out we were prepared for action he delivered, letting us jump in and float along the water with ease. We practiced ‘saving’ each other and surfing the rapids by paddling backwards towards them, perfect for getting wet. Our team quickly bonded with various jokes and high-fives with oars, our guide performing wonderful leaps on the raft as we grew in confidence.
A 50/50 chance of ending up in the water was a treat for some, and a necessity for others ‘Team Extreme’ decided we wanted action, so we got it – on the heaviest rapid we were overturned. Finding out firsthand the nickname of the rapid, I was pulled down into the water and under the current for at least 30 seconds, the water making a ‘Green Room’ as I opened my eyes. “Sometimes you can’t control things” she said, so I relaxed and let the water take me. True to her words I surfaced and was rescued by the others with smiles on our faces. Seems like I had more fun than anyone.
www.rafting.is, Tel.: 453 8383
According to old, Icelandic myths, Mother Grýla and father Leppalúði were ogres that would team up with the Yuletide Cat at Christmas to steal and eat naughty children. Their own offspring became the 13 Yuletide Lads (Santa Clauses) of Iceland. Their names; Pot Licker, Door Slammer and Sausage Stealer don’t have a very joyous ring to them, but they did get the job done, which was mostly to scare rowdy children into good behaviour during the busy Xmas season. Whether it was the advent of modern psychology, better PR representatives or simple cooperation with their colleague from the Coca Cola company, today’s version of the Yuletide Lads is all about positive reinforcement, bringing children gifts and the occasional apples. And the cat is kept on a leash.
About 15-minute drive outside Akureyri stands a house that celebrates Christmas year ‘round. I stood outside, looking up at the ‘Tree for Unborn Children.’ I threw coins into the wishing well for good luck and ventured around the garden, past the wooden elf houses, the polyester Santa suit hanging on the line, and up the white turret where the world’s largest advent calendar towered over me, it’s wooden windows adorned with Steadfast Tin Soldiers, Pinocchio and other fables from youth.
Filled with tinsel and all the candy you could eat, this place is a wonder for Christmas shoppers and those who love the holiday. For others, it could certainly feel creepy – a museum of nutcrackers with carved wooden faces and inanimate Santa’s with red laces. Slightly freaked by this find in the middle of summer, I realised that for kids it was probably a welcome diversion from a long journey.
Christmas House, 601 Akureyri, Tel.: 463 1433
Accomidation provided by:
Gula villan guesthouse
Brekkugata 8 & Þingvallastræti 14, 600 Akureyri
Tel.: 896 8464, www.gulavillan.is