Community Talks! Vol. 1, ep. 9.
Holding an Icelandic passport or as I like to call it being a “Half Viking” definitely has an upside. Apart from it being a great conversation starter, it has granted me the opportunity to live and explore all the beautiful things the country has to offer. But maybe more importantly, it has given me a chance to infiltrate and embrace the minds of our modern world Vikings. You may laugh at this statement but trust me, when your relatives all occupy themselves with one of the country’s biggest sources of income (fish) it is hard to not be swept away by the Viking spirit. For instance, I can identify a 150g piece of Cod by simply picking it up and I can name far more fish species in Icelandic than I think is socially acceptable. With that being said, I beg you to not test me on this if we ever meet: I’m a bit out of practice.
However, being from the country that charmed all of Europe with its supporters during the 2016 Euro cup has a minor downside. Mainly that this conversation starter almost always leads to two questions for me to answer. So, I figured I would take the opportunity to answer them once and for all with a little bit of context.
- Oh, so you are from Iceland! Maybe you know my Icelandic friend Haukur Hauksson?
Iceland has a population mounting up to somewhere north of 350 000 people (yes, we are a rare breed). I can understand that this leads to the misconception that we all know each other. But I promise you we don’t, and the answer to the question will almost always be no. But please never stop asking! I’m still hoping for the day that I can happily answer yes.
- Oh, so you are from Iceland! Is it true there is an app where you can check if you are related?
Given that we are a rare breed stemming from a few Norwegian families, the dating world can be hard to navigate. Thus, the simple answer is not anymore. But there is a database, and yes, I can be found on it. According to my research which, in this instance means I read a handful of news articles and consulted my Icelandic best friend, the status of this app and whether it ever made it through the beta testing stage is unclear. But I can imagine that the world was baffled when the slogan “bump in the phone before you bump in bed” traveled through the news in 2013. I am very aware of the inappropriateness of this slogan, but please don’t shoot the messenger. I simply want to illustrate the prejudices that come with being Icelandic. I would also like to clarify that this is not the primary purpose or use of the database but more of an unfortunate side effect.
But enough about me and the hardships of being a Half Viking. This article has a purpose and I hope I can persuade you to choose spring if you ever decide to travel halfway across the Atlantic.
During a year in Iceland, you will experience approximately 200 days of rain or snow and a winter that stretches from September to April. The sun literally hides behind the mountains during these months allowing little to no sunlight. Consequently, you can imagine the importance of taking your vitamins.
However, this does not discourage the nearly two million people who travel to the island every year. Simply put, the mystique of the nature, the chance to see the Aurora Borealis and bathe in the hot springs outweigh the overbearing risk that it will rain or snow during your trip. This means that there are busloads of people constantly visiting the famous landmarks like the Geysir or the Golden waterfall.
Given the social media centric society we live in today you can imagine that the busloads of tourists make it difficult to take a picture that perfectly captures the fantasy of Iceland being a calm and secluded place. So as a millennial, I empathize with all of you who would like to immortalize your trip and get an impressive Instagram feed in the process. I mean if it’s not on social media did it really happen? Nevertheless, I would like to note that an impressive Instagram feed is not the main argument for a spring visit but in this instance, it also correlates with the actual experience you will have. To simplify, a great trip would have a formula close to “Landmarks + you – other people = a greater experience” and simultaneously the formula for a great Instagram photo goes something like, “Landmarks + you – other people = perfect photo.” Therefore, I’m hoping my argument serves both the Instagram fanatics and the more traditional crowd. And just to let you know, I consider myself being a little bit of both.
To sum up, if the main purpose of your visit isn’t the Aurora Borealis and you as a person consider yourself generally blessed by the weather gods, spring is the season for you! The busloads of people are not as frequent and if you are lucky the sun will shine, causing the snow on the mountain tops to glisten. Basically, if the stars align, you have the chance to experience Iceland as it is reputed to be: secluded, mysterious and absolutely freaking magical!
The “Half Viking”
Iceland, Spring of 2018: Blue lagoon + me – other people = A greater experience and an impressive Instagram feed.
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