Monthly Archives: December 2019

After the Storm in Akureyri

We arrived after the blizzard which made our trip to Iceland a long and winding one. When we arrived, only the first few streets in Akureyri were passable. It’ll be many days before normalcy returns. Our flight landed in drifting snow, with drifts on the runway, after a glorious flight over the highlands.  It’s a good thing we picked a guest house right downtown, just in case of something like this! Here’s our view at 4 a.m.

As you can see, Akureyri is still beautiful. We have some washing to do, but drying is going to be a challenge. Here’s our clothesline.

Do note the lights. Yesterday afternoon, in all the small towns across the north, no one had any power at all, and all the roads were still locked down tight with avalanches, snow and drifts. But here in Akureyri, people were out and about. Piles of snow everywhere, and big machinery moving it around.

Kind of a city of mountains at the moment, as the winds (35 metres per second) blew it all off the mountains and left it in town. But Christmas shopping carried on, I got to shovel snow, and the cinema was open!

And the advent lights were in all the windows.

We came to find the darkness of winter. We also found its light.

Tourist Herding in Iceland, a Class Act

There is an uncanny resemblance between these images. Note the object of the photo watching from within it.

Note how she looks off to the side, leaving the balancing point as white ice.

Note the reaching out and goofy eagerness, set against nature as if it were a part of it.

Note the cool self-assurance by which the non-human actors make the real statement in the scene.

Note the fragile sense of vulnerability of modernity and the troubled gaze out of class, strengthened by class achievement yet never certain.

Note the deliberate dissemination of confusion. You are being led around by people who have been herdsmen and fishermen for 1100 years, after all. As Margret told me last summer, you never know who is the elf and who is the human. You never know,.

Note how Icelanders dress as the visitors do to make everybody comfortable with these arrangements.

Funky, eh. Yeah, well, be strong.

Or blend in.

Iceland’s Golden Age?

Contrary to images like this…

… it isn’t now. This is the golden age:

Ríkarður Jónsson’s Bird Falling Apart in Djúpivogur

There isn’t enough money to keep Iceland of the 1970s, at the height of the herring fishery, in good shape anymore, so such wonderful European gestures languish, in favour of a new kind of colonialism, the eggs of Merry Bay:

You can read my post on them, here:

Don’t get me wrong, they are wonderful, playful, joyous and exquisite, but they are also global. That is the price of staying in the game when the herring go away. The sad thing is, this very real and honourable Iceland (for all its aesthetic colonialism, it is, at least, Scandinavian and European)…

…is barely findable in the tourist information of the country, or online, or anywhere, as if Icelanders are either so embarrassed by their past they want to hide it, so used to tourists not caring that they keep it to themselves to protect its honour, or so used to the government putting up this and that that to them it’s just another government project. Meanwhile, they want to be part of the global world, not of distant Reykjavik. What a bind! Now Iceland is trying to train tourists to be respectful.

Inspired by Iceland launches new tourism campaign Iceland Academy (PRNewsFoto/Inspired by Iceland)

Being respectful to art or history is not really the point. That distance from government is very Icelandic, although not always positively so.