Tag Archives: tourism

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.

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: https://afarminiceland.com/2019/11/20/the-eggs-and-petroleum-tanks-of-icelands-merry-bay/

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.

Iceland: Not Always “Green”

A luxury hotel for the Northern Lights Crowd on the South Coast, and in front of the construction site, surely, the most carbon-wasteful billboard imaginable. The amount of rubber that wears off those tires joins the rubber that wears off the hundreds of thousands of cars rushing past every summer, too.

But I bet the hotel is planning on letting you keep your towels for an extra day without laundering them. Truth is, the carbon footprint of the concrete that goes into every building in Iceland can hardly be paid for by being “green” for a lifetime.

The Green Spirit Stone of East Iceland

The view from Blábjörg.

You don’t see green lava everyday. It looks like it came from the bottom of the sea, but it came from deeper, flowed across the land…

Notice the Campers Rushing Past to See All of Iceland in Three Days

… and into the sea, which has been talking with it ever since.

The thing about land and sea is they don’t rush past.