Friday, 19 December 2008


Tis the season for a holiday photo. This is from our little one's first playschool Christmas Party. Santa brought mandarins for all, and we sang and danced around the pretty tree. Classic stuff. Ho ho ho!

Thursday, 4 December 2008


At the edge of the huge parking lot of the largest power strip mall in Iceland, out in the Grafavogur neighborhood, ground water pouring out of the newly dynamited terrain freezes into pretty little ice sculptures. The stores, Toys 'R' Us, ILVA, Rúmfatalagerinn and The Pier, are essentially empty, though, after a year's worth of hype surrounding, among other things, their massive square footage. A woman working at ILVA, an IKEA-style furniture store recently gone bankrupt in Great Britain, told me that industrious Faroe Islanders had bought the franchise, as well as the entire strip mall, without leveraging any other capital. A clean purchase, she said, not based on stocks or futures or ridiculously lofty loans. Good on them!

The Faroe Islands are the new black.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


At the same time as the most recent Saturday afternoon protest rally, 8,000 souls strong, a fire burst out in an abandoned house on my street.

I won't, just don't have the energy, to go into the whole bureaucratic shenanigans surrounding this house in the recent years, like the owner being granted a permit to tear down which the neighborhood cottage society challenged even though the house is infested with little cement beetles because they didn't like the owner's plans to raise the height of the new structure he had approved by the city to the same height as the building next to it so instead it's been an eyesore, all beaten up and tagged, and has been used as a flop and a squat that all the local kids knew about and now its even uglier just when its very likely that the owner will no longer be able to finance teardown and reconstruction and all because some people think anything built pre-WWII has automatic cultural value.

But whatever, I'm not going to go into it.

Thursday, 30 October 2008


Someone told me about an interview held with an elderly Icelander where the topic turned to the subject of the most important innovation to come to the island in the 20th century. The interviewee, in her eighties, pondered the question for a while then announced that the thing that most changed the lives of Icelanders in the past one hundred years were rubber boots. For the first time in a millenia Icelanders had dry feet all year round.

In these complicated times it's sometimes good to remember the simple things in life.

Please take a look at Iceland Eyes' sister site, Iceland Says, with new posts by Reykjavik college students every day for the next few weeks. Comments are always welcome!

p.s. this photo was taken by Valentina Jóhannsdóttir, my daughter.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


As reluctant as I am to break up the comment flow from the previous post, it is time to add a new image.

Today a group of my college students are sitting in class writing short essays on the state of the nation, in English, that will eventually be posted on Iceland Eye's sister site, Iceland Says. They are writing, as one student put it, letters to the world. I'll try to get them up as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I'd just like to say that we are not huddled around the last remnants of a dying fire here on the island. Though imports have slowed to a near stop from Great Britain, we still have food and other necessities to keep us going. I played this NPR story in class and it made me a little uncomfortable if only because the Icelander being interviewed slips into the classic national habit of using superlatives, of exaggerating for what seems like simple effect. We have gone from being one of the wealthiest nations on earth, she says, to being mere beggars. Are we beggars? Do we feel like beggars, deep in the national soul? Does she see herself as a downtrodden, homeless, luckless panhandler when alone, or is she simply describing her country as such on an international media source for the imagery, the pure conceit? We are not beaten, we are not indigent, but we did gamble with the big boys in the great global economic casino and we lost our shirts.

The interviewee also states that we cannot grow anything here but potatoes and sheep [sic] while I beg to differ. We have hothouses, friends, hothouses that are heated by means of the steam that rises from our earth, and in those hothouses we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, lettuce and bananas. Rhubarb grows wild here and rutabagas and angelica and thyme and blueberries and there are more sheep here than people and we have pure fresh water running from mountain streams that we can dip our hands into and sip on site. We have horses, a beautiful and strong breed conditioned, created by this terrain and climate, as we Icelanders are ultimately, as well.

Some say wisdom is gained through sacrifice. But do we sacrifice our worldly aspirations or our cultural integrity?

We are survivors, adventurers, raiders. We are lusty, passionate, creative. We are molded by this landscape and are both strengthened and humbled by it. Now we have to excuse ourselves from gaming table with no shame for having played and lost (along with many others), assess the damages, and regroup for the next great effort.

To everyone who's asked, we are not broken. As things stand our lives go on almost as usual, as if we always knew the ride would end. It dawned on me last night that the past six years of unlimited economic potential felt just the same as all the hope we hold for the performers we send to Eurovision, or our athletes who make it to the Olympics. Anything can happen, we think. This might be our year! Maybe we've finally found the golden key to ultimate success! And then when our representatives flop or fail, are voted out or just don't make the cut, we pout and say to each other, but there's only so few of us, and we made it so far, and we should be proud, and we're all family, and, of course, there's always next year...

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Well, it's happened. Iceland has frozen. Last week in a literal sense, and this week in a more figurative, but just as real way. Our economy is collapsing, assets are unavailable, mass layoffs are in the works and we've managed to piss the British off in a big way. Our leaders have agreed to a major loan from Russia, if I remember correctly something in the way of 600 billion króna, or about 4 billion Euros ("The Russian ambassador to Iceland, Victor Tatarintsev, informed central bank governor David Oddsson early this morning that Russia would provide Iceland with the loan for three to five years at rates 30 to 50 points above Libor."). Construction workers are flocking to Norway and Sweden and grants, parties and ads once funded by our major banks are being cancelled.

Now we're trying to save face and remember all those tips and tricks our grandparents tried to teach us before we got all glassy-eyed with consumerism and the vacuous, instant gratification version of the capitalist dream.

Read more here.

Monday, 29 September 2008


I got two emails today asking for bits of advice:

Hi Maria,

you seem to have a child about the same age as mine (My daughter Liselotte is almost 2 years old). If yes, you might know some good spots to buy 2nd hand clothing for children in Reykjavik. I have spent all my money on getting to Iceland for our honeymoon end of october, so I will not be able to spend another fortune on souvenirs...

When I lived in Norway, I bought a lot at the Salvation Army shops. You mentioned the Salvation Army in your blog. Do they also sell childrens' clothing? Are there better places to go?

Are there any reasonable (icelandic/weather gear)clothing shops for

In case you come to Berlin, I can supply you with some adresses here...

All the best from Berlin (Germany),


Well, Uta, there are a few second hand stores on Laugavegur, with the Red Cross being the least expensive by far. The other stores might have a few pieces for kids here and there, but are much more (fashionably) pricey. The Salvation Army shop that I mention in this post is also great place to find bargains, though it's a bit harder to locate (follow the directions on the linked post above.)

The second request is more complicated:

Hi Maria,

My husband and I made the trip from Manitoba, Canada to Iceland a couple years ago. During our trip, we could not let even one wonderful day go by without our daily dose of skyr. On our return home, we managed to source some local skyr from a grocery in Alborg, Manitoba. But now, my husband wants to make his own. We have attempted two batches, both dismal failures.

Our information on how to make skyr is only from online sources; the amount of conflicting information is astounding. Would you know of a
tried-and-true recipe that you could pass on to us? Thanks,


Anyone in the know?

Friday, 26 September 2008


Back in the days, when summertime still smiled upon us, before the autumn winds blew in and blew away the leaves and the chilly rains started to fall, a little trip was taken to a fjord just to the north and there I found a tunnel feeding a river out to the sea.

And here's a message I received today from Iceland Eyes reader Kylee:

I just returned from Iceland and brought some coffee back with me for my mom. She was in love with it and wants to order more, but I can't find anyone who carries it online. It is Merrild Malađ Međalristađ. I realize that it's not even an Icelandic brand, but does anyone have info on how I can get it online -- or if someone would be gracious enough to ship some to me in the States??


(She didn't drop her address, but I'm sure she will if anyone would like to hook her mom up with the stuff.)

Saturday, 13 September 2008


Here's an email I got from an Iceland Eyes reader. Does anyone have an answer for him?

We are flying from the US via Delta to Boston and then Icelandair to
Iceland. While Delta allows a 40 lb carry on Icelandair only allows 13 lb. Do you know or do you know of anyone I could talk to who has recently flown Icelandair to know if they weight carry on baggage from people who are transferring from one airline to theirs? I have never seen that happen anywhere else. Since our carry on weights 9 lb empty it seems worthless to bring it for 4 lbs of items.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Sunday, 7 September 2008


It's always exciting to find a trampoline out in the wilds, especially if you're a Super Gymnast like our Valentína. (If you're curious as to where this is, it's just outside of Reykjavík at Lækjarbotn, where one of Iceland's Waldorf schools is located.)

Sunday, 24 August 2008


What we'll do for a few blueberries!

It was stormy and wet out (as if the national soul had conjured up weather to describe the feeling of having just lost the Olympic handball Gold to France and their crazy psychic goalkeeper) but we slapped on our slickers and went out searching anyway. Dad knew there wouldn't be any blueberries at this location, but he did pick up a few puny krækjuber (translation anyone?) just for fun.

Saturday, 16 August 2008


Just a typical idyllic scene from the Icelandic countryside...

As summer comes to a close and the nights grow longer (when it's cloudless we can even see the moon at midnight) that odd feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop overcomes many. For those who've been on vacation (students, teachers) a new experience is about to start. For those who've use the summer as a transition zone, a switching station between life paths, autumn's new realities are just around the corner. It's always easier to break with the past when days are warm, and slide into the future with the sun's hopeful rays still on your back.

Saturday, 9 August 2008


Happy Gay Day to all! Here's Rósa and her band Sometime having a glittering blast on wheels during today's Gay Pride parade. Tonight the town belongs to the Rainbow and anyone and everyone who's ready to party on til dawn...

Friday, 8 August 2008


Little waterfalls abound all across Iceland, and on warm days it's a blast jumping out of the car and into a roadside cascade. In this land of super-heated thermal hot springs, melting glacial runoff and ubiquitous, any-season rainfall we seem to have enough of the wet stuff, and some would even say too much.

Like any other resource, though, it's all about proper management, distribution, usage and respect for something that none of us could do without. Though not in any way affiliated with them, I think the Saving Iceland website has some interesting information, and is worth a read on the subject of water, water power and their take on the state of the Icelandic environment

Sunday, 29 June 2008


Like a dream come true, Iceland Eyes has made it to the Big Time: printed and bound in a pretty book called Reykjavík, one of two volumes in the Iceland Cool and Crisp series published by Veröld, with more to come.

All the photos in the book are from this blog, though I created the accompanying text to suit the form and intent of the book: something bright and pretty, informative and creative for travelers to take home with them for a decent price. Their editor, Bjarni Þorsteinsson, did a fantastic job of manifesting into physical form two hard-cover excursions into the visitor's Iceland. Kudos to him!

And I have to thank my parents, Þórir and Ásthildur Roff (Thor and Asta) for prompting me often, especially when they were still out in California, to post another photo, to keep on with the blog. Likewise, the steady stream of compliments and comments from around the world, from strangers who believe in and like what Iceland Eyes has to offer, keep me encouraged and inspired to find those sweet visual moments in the bustle of the busy world. Faithful visitors, you know who you are: Many Many Thanks !!! And to my children Valentína and Óðinn: your patience with me as I post is invaluable. When the urge to write takes over and I shush you as I fall into a spell of words, you give me the time to let it happen, even if it means dinner is late. Love and love and love ~.~

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


There's a vibrant stillness in the warm in here, as usually happens when one beautiful day follows another. It's as if we're taking a long collective breath, enjoying every second of summer weather in the now, moving surely and with joy while the sunshine lasts.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Óðinn and Míó

A snapshot of homelife...

At one very young point in his life, our little Óðinn was smaller than Míó the cat. At that stage Míó sat by and watched over our sleeping baby. Today, as can be seen in this shot, he's not always so willing to be a companion to a busy two year old, but exercises anyway as much patience as he possibly can.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Perfect new life emerges from unusual places, like these tiny grasses sprouting from a mossy clump on a mid-town wall. Through all the fretting and fixing, conflict and complaining of women and men growth appears unbidden and unaided, extending forth with some silent will of its own.

Some may consider this emergence a blemish to be carefully scraped away, but I consider it beautiful.

Monday, 9 June 2008


A beautiful day at the family park in Laugardalur.

We've had a lot of lovely days lately, which always makes me happy because that means the tourists who've spent their hard earned money to get here won't be disappointed. Pride spills over, as if I'm a hostess displaying her glorious feast for welcomed guests. I still want to occasionally say Go ahead and wear your pretty clothes in town, everyone's doing it. Leave the brand new hiking boots for your day trip to the countryside. You'll enjoy your lunch more if you do. But if you've just spent a mini fortune on sensible footgear and an all-weather parka you'll want to go ahead and use them.

Notice, though, that even out in the back country you'll see Icelanders in darling little gilded ballet flats and $300 Adidas fashion trainers, yes talking on their cells (if there's reception) while tiptoeing their way out past the sulfur pits to watch Strokkur blow, and bemoaning the fate of their Dolce&Gabbana while slipping down misty steps to Gullfoss in their skinny jeans, as if they had no idea they'd get wet. Fashion does not stop at city limits, so while you're here try dolling up (men as well!) when you'd least think to to enjoy the full Icelandic experience.

Friday, 30 May 2008


We've survived a 6.3 shaker here in South Iceland, though one man broke his toe and quite a number of homes in Selfoss are unsafe for the time being. For my parents and I it felt just like the old days: Los Angeles '71, San Francisco '89.

The earth shakes, plans change, paths diverge, goals are reassessed. LIfe in flux.

Sometimes a simple, pretty, peaceful scene is just what we need.

p.s. If you're thinking of moving to California here's a site you should read: Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country

Thursday, 22 May 2008


Downtown, at the corner where the fire was last year, an evokative photo exhibit, Dialogue, has been installed on the temporary walls surrounding the burn site as part of the 2008 Reykjavik Arts Festival. Here men velcro up the nearly thousand images of rural Icelandic children, photographed by artists Anna Leoniak and Fiann Paul.

All those eyes seemingly watching our daily hustle and bustle somehow put things into perspective. I slow as I pass the children by, trying to imagine their names, or their favorite games, wanting to wipe the jam off the corner of a young girl's mouth or straighten that little one's hat. I thought this exhibit wouldn't last long exposed like it is to the (party/reckless) elements of Reykjavik, but it's still tag-free after a week, and intact, a sign that innocence still holds sway.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

10 pm

This shot was taken at the beginning of May. By now the sun sets in the north closer to 11 o'clock, and rises in the east at the literal crack o'dawn, 4 am.

Sunday, 11 May 2008


They're small, but already have the look of voyagers setting out to discover new wealth, new adventures, new lands.

Regarding adventures, download the latest, May-June, issue of Packed Magazine. Be sure to take a look at page 35 for a bit on our friendly little city.

Also, drop by Iceland Says, a new sister site to Iceland Eyes now featuring the writings of Icelandic teens. New posts will be added on a regular basis....

Sunday, 4 May 2008


The beautiful woods of Öskjuhlíð, just a short walk from downtown Reykjavik, are a soothing sight in springtime as sunlight filters through the firs to pool at mossy rocks and hollows. No bunnies were spotted on this trip but they're there in the hundreds, and if you're still and calm for long enough they will appear, as if from nowhere.

Read the latest copy of Vanity Fair, the Green Issue, and especially Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s manifesto with his insights into Iceland. Though maybe a bit optimistic about our independence from foreign energy sources (gas and oil are imported and we'd be crippled without them) the concept of local innovation, which is, I think, his point, is very valid. Be sure to also read this article for a solid cue as to how Iceland can fully live up to the eco-mythos surrounding it while simultaneously maintaining its new role as a global market player.

Turf houses, anyone?

Friday, 25 April 2008


Young students of Kvennaskólinn college 

A snapshot of young romance in Reykjavik...

Sunday, 20 April 2008


Here's some charming people, students of Kvennaskólinn, all prettied up in national dress for Peysafatadagur, held a few Fridays ago. The third year students, 18 year old-ish, get all dolled (and guyed) up, then dance and sing at various locations about town, including a retirement home two. It's a fancy sight, seeing these ultra-hip kids so full of classic-style pride and joy.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Al Gore is here today. Maybe he'll be able to convince the powers that be that creating an ultra-modern environment-loving model eco society in Iceland would be the thing to do. We have the technology, we have the opportunity, we have the reputation. No pussyfooting. We have a future to enter. Starting Now.

Saturday, 5 April 2008


This past week's protests have had to do with the price of gas reaching as it has just under $9 a gallon (diesel's pricey too.) Truckers, taxi drivers, 4x4 tour operators and other professional drivers, plus a load of motor enthusiasts and supporters blocked roads, honked incessantly and made a general nuisance of things to let the state know that the near 50% tax added to fuel is, at this point, almost ridiculous. It costs a semi driver, who may be an independent contractor, just under a $1000 to fill a tank that lasts a day and a half of work-based driving. Maybe they should take up bicycle messengering instead. In this photo a cop is giving biker a hard time for revving up and starting to drive off from the protests in front of the parliament without his helmet on. I got the impression they knew each other well: it sounded like the cop used his name and he kind of hissed at him like "you know I have to bust you if you don't wear it so just put it on!" It killed the buzz of the biker's exit, but he got his mojo back in a flash and roared off to the next protest point in style.


When the economy's wobbly and the future of the nation uncertain, sometimes its best to just go fishing.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008


Oh, the green hills and valleys of summertime!

Everything is wobbly here on the lava rock. Our economy's going the way of Zimbabwe's, we're protesting on the streets like the French and our downtown is looking a too ghetto-style USA.

Maybe its time to just lease a luxury camper and get away from it all...

Monday, 24 March 2008


Today, the second of Easter (also a national holiday), snow is dusting our chilly city. No leaves on trees, but persistent tulips are making headway through the cold earth here and there. The economy is grinding through a serious downshifting of gears and there's wonder whether we'll all adjust. And in mid-city a deflated ball never drops back down from the spindly prison it's been caught in, to some child's chagrin.

Monday, 17 March 2008


In the interest of keeping with March's (unintended) animal theme, Iceland Eyes presents SuperCat, protector of Rvk's Lower West Side...

LIfe is wonderful, the sun shines, and either a general sense of peace wafts through the city or some of us aren't in the mindset to process anything else. The long Easter vacation has started and teachers across Iceland must be stoked to be in the profession and get the same extended breaks their students get.

Word has it every single flight out of the country is booked to the hilt. That makes living on a chilly island in the North Atlantic a little more interesting for the next week or so: those of us not heading for Tenerife are stuck here. No exit.

Or you could choose to look at the bright side: we've got the whole place to ourselves...

P.s. a special hello goes out to Pabbi and the Shadygrove crew. Miss you!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Animal Farm

Another wonderful Sunday down at the Zoo (Húsdýragarðinn) at Laugardalur...

The days are getting longer at an amazing pace now. During the first week of March it's like an extra set of lights has been turned on in the heavens, and suddenly 7 a.m. is dawn and 8 o'clock still sees a hint of brightness on the horizon. By the equinox a few weeks from now we'll officially be out of the dark days and cruising slowly toward the eternal sunlight of summer. As I say every year, it's just as amazing each spring that summer will once again come round.

Just waiting for the tulips...

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Still Life Rvk

Here's a pretty shot of Ása and Benoný's cute timber house on Skólavördurstígur, well-guarded by all manner of iconic images, as well as an iron fence.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Black Church

A classic 19th church sits in evening light on Brautarholt in Kjalarnes, a small town just to the north of Reykjavík (just to the left of the red box with Esja written in it on this map.) This church, with it's Italian marble baptismal font, is the direct successor to the first church erected in Iceland, at Esjuberg at the foot of Mount Esja just prior to 900 A.D. This building is of course only 150 years old, but Christian structures have stood on this location since the days of settlement over a thousand years ago.

Here is a fascinating document from 1873 on "Some Ruins in..Iceland" for those of you who, like me, love history.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Urban Horse

Land in the greater Reykjavik area that was once reserved for horses, their stables, training rings and trails has slowly but surely been overtaken by housing developments and businesses. This stable resident is living her final winter at one of the last urban equestrian holdouts, a neighborhood of a hundred or so stalls now located just above the Smáralind shopping center. Not so long ago this site was on the very outskirts of the populated urban center. Now you can see Iceland's tallest building peeking from between the mare's ears.

The horses seem used to the constant heavy traffic on the highway just next to their paddock, but it's a sure thing that they'll not miss it when relocated to their new homes on the outer fringes of the Capital area. Of course there's always the question of how long it takes the ever-expanding city to encroach on those new lodgings as well.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Tjörnin by Batty

  Professor Batty has taken me up on my call for submissions of photos and text detailing reader's Iceland experiences. Here are his lovely words:

When a man who has spent his life on the ocean speaks poetically of water, I will give him due consideration. Sitting in a hot pot at the Vesturbæjarlaug Thermal pool, sharing water with a retired trawler captain, a Spaniard, and an elderly woman, the conversation was as warm as we were. Another unseasonably fine day in Reykjavík, I was taking a final visit to the neighborhood pool. The conversation swirled like the water in which we soaked; moving between politics,economics, wool, music and water. Always water, this rock in the North Atlantic, surrounded by water and the fish in it which generated wealth, the heat from the geothermal water making living comfortable here, and the electricity generated from the hydroelectric plants making modern life practical. I mentioned Halldór Laxness and his novel Kristnihald undir Jökli, wherein the "fallen" pastor Jón Primus declared his only theory: "...water is doesn't even have to go by my theory unless one is thirsty." Everybody laughed. Water is good, especially when one is in it with congenial company. When I became thoroughly cooked, I reluctantly left.

Two days later the weather had turned colder, and it was time for me to return to my home in Minnesota where my "real" life awaited. I showered, smiling at the faint odor of sulfur from the hot water - after only a week I was beginning to take it for granted. I dressed and gathered my bags and headed out. I went down and walked along Tjarnagata, past the pond, where the water had frozen over during the night. A few brave souls waltzed over the thin ice, the birds had congregated down by the northern end where some of the water was still open. Geese flew in formation overhead, and as I walked the paths at the southern end of Tjörnin, I slowly scanned this beautiful city.

Suddenly there was more water, but this time salty. I turned away and headed up the hill to the bus depot. I didn't look back again.

Go here for more amazing photos of the professor's travels in Iceland.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


Every city has it's eyesores. Unfortunately, this one is located on our main strip Laugavegur, for everyone to see over and over again. We've watched the puddle in the pit fill, freeze, thaw, snow over, thaw again and refreeze, etc. Aside from that being a comment on the fickle weather over here, that means this lot has lay bare for many months now. Many months. And this is not midtown Reykjavik's only unfinished architectural business...

Commentary aside, I find this scene attractive for its rawness, for exposing the inner workings of a city block like some kind of splayed open biology dissection specimen. I wonder about the soot stain on the white building at the back, and about the block-letter graffiti on the brick garage. I applaude the person who decided to paint the face of the low-lying storage building a deep red with green trim, even though it was almost completely hidden from view before the house that filled this hole was torn down. I love the colors that contrast shockingly with the rubble and I like that we can see down to the bedrock and feel assured that the heart of Reykjavik is built on solid rock. I won't miss this raw scene when it's gone, but while it's here we might as well try to appreciate it.

Thursday, 14 February 2008


Out by the huge oil tanks at the tip of Örfirisey, the plot of land (once an island) that hugs the west side of the Reykajvik harbor, stands this old corrugated iron clad house. It was moved out to this empty lot from a location in downtown Reykjavik, though I don't recall exactly where it once stood. I'm sure it's awaiting relocation to a new site in the city center, as Örfirisey, or "island that it's possible to walk out to", (section 7 on this map) is not the most hospitable spot for a classic bit of Reykajvik's architectural history.

Of note: Trains in Iceland? Read here for a short history of Reykjavik's railways.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008


For those of you who've traveled here recently and experienced how grand our international airport is out at Keflavík (no sarcasm's a very nice building) you might get a kick out of seeing this photo of the departure lounge at the Reykjavik inland Airport. One of Air Iceland's planes is visible on the tarmac outside, a Fokker F50 ready for it's next flight to Akureyri. The lounge is about double the size of what's visible in the photo, and just behind the man with the shoulder bag is the squeaky and rickety old baggage carousel.

At the cafeteria, adjacent to the lounge, works a woman from South America named Valentina who speaks five languages and holds a degree in engineering, or so I was told by the flight attendant who checked in my Valentina during her most recent travels.

This airport is cozy and homey and well-worn. Some people want it gone from the city center, moved out to Keflavik, while others like it just where it is. Still others say one of our closer bay islands would suit it well. If it is moved we'll miss the constant low arrival fly-overs through the heart of the city and the sight of private jets coming and going, and the fun game of guessing who owns which ones. You can read more about the airport here.

And remember, Greenland is a hop and a skip away: you can literally book a day trip to Kulusuk from May to September. More info here. Very cool.
Two links:

1) Little Licker Icelandic Music Issue
2) Icelandic Cooking Recipes Food and Culture blog


Wednesday, 6 February 2008


Oh, I wish I had something to say, some deep words about extreme weather and Bobby Fischer's passing and about how I think I saw Joan Cusak walking up Bankastræti the other day. A few thoughts on local stock market wobbles would be nice, or on the ever-rising cost of gasoline (we're at $7.50 a gallon!) or even on the real-life Monopoloy game being played by out by Rvk politicos. But the well has frozen up in the recent cold snap and who knows but that I'll have to wait til Spring for a literary thaw...

In the mean time, you can help by sending in a few words of your own to me via email and if I like, I'll post. Subject: Iceland.

And if you happen to be house hunting here in Reykjavik, please let me know. Or if you're in real estate. Explanations later.

And does anyone know of any summer English teaching gigs? There's a couple coming to the island in May who'd love to share their linguistic knowledge while here.

Friday, 1 February 2008


A favorite weekend pastime here in Reykjavik is cruising through Kolapórtið, our indoor flea market and seafood bazaar. Though I could write a few good words about it myself, I thought I'd let a long-time Iceland Eyes buddy Professor Batty do the honors in this excellent entry from Flippism is the Key. He also wrote a nice swan song to our favorite local Sirkus which, if city planning has it's way, is history.

Sunday, 27 January 2008


A house on Bergstaðastræti. I honestly have no idea what's going on here...

Friday, 18 January 2008


Iceland's only army is of the Salvation kind. Their second-hand clothing store is located on the corner of Garðastræti (which runs just above and to the west of the main downtown plaza) and Ránargata, a street that has developed into a charming kind of B&B Row, with a number of guesthouses including Alfholl, Three Sisters and Vikingur. Without specifically endorsing anything, this is a quieter neighborhood than on the Laugavegur (east) side of the town center, a quality which some visitors find very attractive in regards to their lodgings. And while over there on the West Side you can pop in to the Salvation Army store where you may find a hidden local treasure and support a good cause at the same time.

Oh, and the answers to this post's quiz are:
* The Government House
* Governor Hannes Hafsteinn
* The Danish King Christian IX
(Both statues by Einar Jónsson commemorating the 1918 Act of Union, a first step toward independence. The King is handing over the official documentation of self-govenment)
* Bankastræti
* The new Music and Convention Center (see this video for a full 3D tour of the project)
* And lastly, the Men's public toilets (the Women's is across the street)

Thanks to all who played!

Monday, 14 January 2008


Skuggahverfi, or Shadow Neighborhood, is that part of midtown Reykjavik that lies to the north of Laugavegur, or above the blue-lined street on this map. Lacking the much sought-after southern exposure found on the other side of Þingholt ("Assembly Hill," or, the Hill the Big Church is On), this neighborhood is darkened during the winter months when the sun rides low on the horizon. In the summer, though, Skuggahverfi is blessed by the midnight sun as it cruises through the northern skies, making late-night balcony barbecues a beautiful experience.

Apartment towers are popping up along the base of the hill, which, incongruous as they are against the quaint wooden houses that pepper the area, help to block the neighborhood from Kári, the ferocious northern wind. Despite that benefit, though, what some people see as developmental progess in the heart of Reykjavik, others see as modern monstrosities destroying the charm of our little city.

(Nota bene: Answers to the last post's questions are on their way. This is final call for input from the world at large!)

Tuesday, 8 January 2008


It's late, so I think I'll let everyone else write the details on this photo:
What building is shown?
Who is the nearer statue of?
Who is the farther statue of?
What street is this taken on?
What are the cranes in the backround building?
And, where do the stairs from the sidewalk lead to?

I look very forward to seeing comments from you, my astute readers... (and locals, be nice and try not to ruin the fun for Reykjavik trivia buffs who might want to try to answer! As a matter of fact, locals might try giving hints to help out!)