Tag Archives: tourism

The Great Icelandic Challenge

It’s a hard one, but is it better to drive up to Dettifoss and get close to a wall of water, or park five kilometres away and walk along to goroge until  you’re ready to see the falls from a new perspective?

Dunno, but when I got this far, I didn’t want to go further, and turned around, to the forest. It was hiding behind a rock and taking on human form.

It was a message. Iceland is full of messages like that.

The Path Through the Trees, Before and After the Pandemic

Once, these birch forests were burned to smelt iron, then they were nibbled to naught by sheep.

A thousand years of erosion later, they became symbols of Iceland’s independence, and were carefully grown up from their sheep-nibbled stubs.

Ásbyrgi, 2011

Then Iceland got to work hosting tourists. The north, and its tourists, were left behind, so tourists were brought on busses as late as 2019. They had 30 minutes to walk through the trails, without history, and then were off to think whatever they might think.

The Icelanders weren’t going there themselves in 2019. They were going here, upriver, by horse expedition:

Now what? The forests wait.

Global Warming is Good Business

Black sand beaches are fun. You can watch the glaciers melt away to nothing there. This is endlessly fascinating. Most Icelandic tourism is based around twinning this melting…

Diamond Beach

… with a bit of human heat…

Blue Lagoon

Perhaps now you’re ready for the Beach of Blood?

Maybe you’re ready to go north?

Whale Beach

You won’t be alone.

If we want to end global warming, we will have to resist it and discover cold.

 

Kirkjufell is Real

Tourism is an industry. Here are some industrial views of Kirkjufoss, the most-photographed mountain in Iceland.

Tour busses race past Kolgrafafjörður …

Why would you rush past such a dawn?

… to get you to it. If you go on December 24 (not in a tour bus. It will drive past), Kirkjufell might look like this at sundown:

Mind you, if you turn around, you might see other miracles:

Few do. There is no time. The 8 p.m. Aurora bus is waiting in Reykjavik, and it’s many hours and a world away. Besides, industrial images are soooooo seductive:

I don’t think this is quite how people in Grundarfjörður experience the mountain. This is certainly one way, though:

The Eastern Burbs

And this is another.

The forest walk from the campground in November.

Iceland is real.

The November view from town.

It takes time for a mountain to speak. You can’t force it.

The Charm of Being Alone in Iceland

One of the seductive things about Iceland (for outsiders) is that the possibility of being completely alone with the Earth, in a completely simplified life, seems to be promised.

Here on the Skagafjörður in mid-December it seems so accessible, too. It’s just an illusion. Sure, you could achieve it, but you would have to change your life, and if you did it would no longer be simple. Do you dare? Do you dare stop and stay there forever, and let everything else go? Well, Icelanders made that choice 1100 years ago, and look how simple their life is, making you feel at home:

Will you walk into the dark?

Harpa: The Grand Lady of Reykjavik Harbour is Getting Tired

The beautiful view is closed off now, although the sun still shines in and statues still look out.

And for a palm tree just south of the Arctic Circle, where better? Is it Icelandic? The question is: what isn’t?

But the violinist playing to his city, now playing to an international hotel chain?

It can be exhausting to grow old and famous. Even three years ago, Harpa stood proudly out in the sea. Ten years ago, she was an open public space, with art shows and cool shops everywhere. Now she’s growing up, the dear.

So are we all.

So are we all.

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.