Icelanders are kooky

Posted on September 12th, 2012

Iceland is one of the weirdest places I’ve ever been to. As in weird-good. I spent 10 days here and got seriously disorientated. When I travel I absorb factoids – cultural ticks, fashion quirks, mannerisms etc. When I visited Iceland a week or so ago, the factoids rained down on me. From all angles. Mostly via Icelanders themselves who love to share their quirkiness with others, I found.

We loved this chick…feisty and wanting to learn to surf in Australia

Add to this the long daylight hours, the lunar-like landscape and the FRIGGEN cold (11 degrees and it was SUMMER)…and it all added up to a whole lottta weird.

The glaciers down south…stay tuned for my next post for hiking highlights

The weirdness of the place has spawned a people who fully embrace intuitive, kooky, whimsical, creative living. Take a look below images, shot by Marija, my travel buddy. I’ll jazz things up with some of the factoids I was drowned in while we wandered. Consider this A Romp Through Kooky Iceland… For Your Visual Pleasure.

An update: A lot of Icelanders have come across this post and contributed extra detail to the factoids I share here. As some (Icelanders) have pointed out, it’s a very Icelandic thing to be pedantic. I also think it’s a very (delightfully) Icelandic thing to be so engaged and to be such good sports about it. I have gone through and made a few corrections. Consider me updated, Iceland!

Yes kooky…

Marija and I hiked and drove around the place. And ate. The rest of the time we hung in Reykjavic, a truly fun, café and bar-filled city, and wandered about to check out the locals.

Marija thought the Icey kookiness had rubbed off on me…

But to some factoids: Dogs were banned in Reykjavic until 1985; beer until 1988 [correction: 1989]. No reason given [update: see comments below - I've now been given the reason.]

Dapper lads everywhere. Solemn. Almost comically so. They’d agree.

Folk here are wonderfully acerbic. Notoriously so. Which means a very take-the-piss sense of humour, expressions devoid of… expression, and self-directed jokes about how dry and expressionless they are.

Just a beautiful Reykjavik boy we accosted

The men here are in a great head space. Young boys are extremely open and expressive and creative.  A joy to observe…

Love that this kid knows what he’s doing… in a Punky Brewster kinda way

Nordic cute.

That beautiful boy again…

Little boys are super free and expressive and dance a lot.

These little tackers danced with their shirts off for well over an hour at a street party. Totally serious. Totally unaffected. Totally vibing the crowd.

This kid kept us entertained for 45 minutes. Seriously good stunts.

I wanted to take all of them home with me.

This video is just so cute.

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As is she.

Oh goodness.

Fashion is a focus…but in the most off-beat, no-rules way. The clothes and shoes are rather (how shall I say it?) craft-project-ish. But the way they like to put things together is just so much fun. Take a look:

Pat-Mc-Enroe-Hell-Yeah. Someone on Instagram commented that they thought this kid was channeling me (!?)

Love this look. So clean and unaffected.

Everyone has hobbies and is arty. Men knit. Mountain guides play in 23-piece ironic punk-rock bands. And there are festivals and street parties almost every weekend. Each night that we wandered around, there was a folk band or a Dixieland ensemble or a bunch of kid rappers and breakdancers performing in a dingy bar or on a random patch of concrete.

Tights. Icelanders love a tight.

The population is roughly that of Canberra. There is a distinct “functional besa-brick” Canberra aesthetic to the place, too.

I want her to be my Year Ten art teacher

 Icelanders are some of the longest-lived folk in the world. And yet they’re the biggest consumers of Coke on the planet. And their junk food is dire.

More dapper kook

Despite having some of the longest periods of darkness on the planet, they have a low rate of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and depression [amendment: in relation to other Northern Hemisphere countries]. Some put this down to the fish they eat.

Young kids. The girls love to paint in their eyebrows. Heavily.

Iceland boasts the first openly gay, and the first female, Prime Minister/President in the world.

They’re late and disorganised. Notoriously so. Very odd for a Nordic country. But as Alda Sigmundsdóttir, author of The Little Book of Icelanders, says: “The Icelanders are the Southern Europeans of Northern Europe”.

This chick 80s dance-motioned to her friends in the upstairs bar. For about 10 minutes. I think she was saying, “buy me a GnT”.

They’re quiet. Cafes and shops don’t generally have music. I loved this.

Cool young parents abound. Everyone here tends to marry [correction: have children] early…to people they meet at uni (at the age of 20 onwards; high school/college lasts until the age of 20 here).

This mum and daughter belong in a Kinfolk magazine shoot. Kooky. Inspiringly so.

“Ya’ll seen Texas?”

And by way of a final visual comment….this, taken when I walked over a spurty bit on the side of a volcano….

Yep, Marija was right…

Inspired to go to Iceland? Or to mix up your style a bit? As fascinated by the factoids as I am?

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • http://hugoandelsa.blogspot.com Michelle

    Right, I want to move there. In the meantime, I’m pinning.

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  • Rebecca

    ” I want her to be my Year Ten art teacher”

    HILARIOUS!!

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  • Sharon in Philly

    You have definite got me interested in visiting! Goodness knows when though.

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  • Chrissy

    Really, Iceland style / kookiness can be summed up with one word – Bjork!!!

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  • Mia Bluegirl

    In my head, Iceland is like a Sigur Ros video clip. With aurora borealis in the background. It’s been on my travel bucket list for a while.

    Looks like fun :)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT’S LIKE

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  • http://dustanddesert.blogspot.com Brodie

    as if i i didn’t want to go there enough already…now I really want to! amazing.

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  • Lucy

    This is so cool Sarah. Your travels are seeing me through to my next holiday… in which I’ll definitely schedule Iceland. Keep up the good work x

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  • http://imperfectdelights.com Kate @ imperfectdelights

    I now NEED to visit Iceland – love the kookiness (and how it rubbed off on you)!

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  • http://littlefig.wordpress.com Mickey

    This is a great post. I am going in April! Please write about where you ate!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    That post is coming next week.

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  • Annelies

    Belgium also has an openly gay prime minister. An actually, he’s an immigrant from Italy.

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    Sunna Reply:

    Iceland was first though!

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    Don Ellione Reply:

    And more fact on our prime minister, when it became a big story all around the world that she was the first gay prime minister it was a suprice for Icelanders, because nobody cares if she is gay or not. It a good example for how much tolerance we have for gay people

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    Katla Reply:

    The prime minister of Iceland, Johanna Sigurdardottir, who has been a politician for decades, hasn’t been very open about her homosexuality. Maybe because tolerance for homosexuality did not exist in Iceland until around 1996. Before that Iceland was hell for homosexuals, like so many other places.

    Halli Reply:

    “tolerance for gay people” – what a horrible expression.

    Is that like tolerance for pineapple pizza? I think most of us are just happy that everybody can have a pizza of their liking. There’s nothing to ‘tolerate’.

    Katla Reply:

    Wow, point taken!

  • Amber

    Loved this post and loving living vicariously through your travels. Love the kook. x

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  • kate

    these pics are absolutely gorgeous. Love the fashion- unique and inspring. absolutely gorgeous looking people. those dancing boys are so cute.

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  • http://educatedderelicts.wordpress.com Courtney

    This looks AMAZING – for some reason Iceland has never been on my To-Travel-To list, but it certainly is now.

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  • http://www.annpenhallow.com.au Ann

    Sarah,
    This was one of your best travel posts ever! Loved it, and loved all the photos of the crazy-normal people.
    I really hope your next book will be a collection of these amazing travel-food stories. You can be my travel guide any day!

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  • http://todayforjane.blogspot.com jane

    Hi Sarah – great post!
    A guy in my office goes to Iceland all the time which I thought was a bit curious (surely you go, check it out, and never return), but my friend and I went a few weeks ago and I could absolutely see why he keeps going back. It is such a cool place! We mainly just hung out in Reykjavik (here are my pics of the shops – http://todayforjane.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/icelandpart-iii.html) but I am going back again in a month to do some hiking. Exciiiited.

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    Ambra Reply:

    As a local, I would seriously advise against going hiking in iceland after September. The weather is very unstable in winter, and yes, winter is here already. The north just had 2-3 meters of snow. Local people are very careful, because people do die in severe weathers. At least dress for the north pole and read this: http://www.landsbjorg.is/assets/slysavarnirfritimi/english.pdf

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    jane Reply:

    Hi Ambra, thank you so much for the advice – I had no idea winter was there already! If we can’t go out hiking, there are definitely worse ways to spend a weekend than hanging out in Reykjavik. I want to go back to Fishmarket!!

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    Siggi Reply:

    Dont worry about going hiking in Iceland, what i recomend is going in a planed tour wiht guides. South east part of the country still has no snow. An yes Fishmarket is good, Gallery Holt is at least as good if not better :).

    jane Reply:

    thanks Siggi :-)

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  • http://www.pinkbubu.com Begüm

    OMG I’m in love with this country already!!!! When can I go?
    I want more pictures!!! Please please write&post more!!! It’s crazy! Very different, very inspiring and I can not wait to travel there!

    Cheers,
    Begüm.

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  • http://www.thesummerhouse.blogspot.com Jana Miller

    So fun…thanks for sharing your photos. It doesn’t look like anyone is overweight. We better start eating more fish and get rid of our stress!

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    Arni Reply:

    Iceland is considered as one of the fattest countries on earth by mistake. This is calculated by finding the BMI (Body Mass Index) of a person. Body mass index is defined as the individual’s body mass divided by the square of his or her height. Icelanders generally are muscularly built and quite small sized people, both females and males, so this formula is very inaccurate, but sadly the only way to calculate these numbers. But of course we do have our share of people who are overweight as well.

    I am by the way an Icelandic nutritionist.

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    Katla Reply:

    Quite small sized? I would say we were quite tall in general, compared to other nations.

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    Erna Reply:

    Katla is right we are quite tall in general, strongly built and muscular. And while Arni is also right about the fact that BMI is less accurate when people are really small in size, the same also applies for people that are tall, especially if they tend to be muscular and strongly built, like we. When you are quite small, the BMI tends to be underestimated and overestimated if you are tall and strong.
    That is even the base for one equation for both sexes. Women tend to be smaller and less strongly built and muscular then men, that’s why, even though women have a higher fat%, we use the same calculator for males and females.

  • http://facebook.com/icelandweatherreport Alda

    Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing those beautiful photos. I bet you didn’t know that one of the wealthiest individuals in Iceland is in one of those pictures … or did you?

    One pedantic point – it’s not true that Icelanders marry young. The marriage rate in Iceland is really low, and most people live together before they get married, which happens maybe in their 30s, usually after they’ve had kids. They do tend to have kids young, though.

    Also, the prime minister and president are two separate offices here. Our PM is openly gay. Our president is not.

    Finally, that quote about Icelanders being the southern Europeans of northern Europe is actually taken from my book, The Little Book of the Icelanders. Just for the record. ;)

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Hey Alda! I got the quote from one of the street newspapers…but PLEASE send me your blog/website URL and I’ll correct things…PS I didn’t know there’s a rich kid in that rundown…ha! I won’t ask which one… that would be rude?

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  • http://facebook.com/icelandweatherreport Alda

    I know – it was probably The Grapevine’s review of my book – they made reference to that particular quote. The URL to the page is here: http://icelandweatherreport.com/the-little-book-of-the-icelanders … it’s a little outdated (from when the book was still JUST an ebook) but anyway, it’s there.

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  • Aron Bergmann Magnússon

    Love the picther u got of me and my dandy friend all the best from Iceland

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  • Gunnlaugur Bjarnason

    Hello Sarah. I am from Iceland and live in the town of Selfoss which is located about 60 kilometers away from Reykjavík. I find it nice that you enjoyed our country but your article has to get some facts straight. It is true that a lot of the people in REYKJAVÍK are very arty and hip but if you just away from the center of the city, often known as 101, you can witness the typical Icelander, whom is as you described so well dry and expressionless. You can even witness this in the suburbs of Reykjavík. You don’t even have to go to another town.

    One thing you wrote that dogs were banned at one period is exaggerated. Dogs were banned in Reykjavík for a certain time but they have always been very essential to Icelandic farmers to round up sheep. They are even still being used in the countryside (I am not sure after reading this article that you did a lot of exploring the country itself and all the people that do not live in Reykjavík. Of course I can not say that because I have yet to see the your photos of your hikes on the glaciers.)
    The reason why dogs were not allowed in the city was because they shit on the street.

    Just to be clear: Beer was banned till 1989.

    “Despite having some of the longest periods of darkness on the planet, they have a low rate of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and depression. Some put this down to the fish they eat.”
    Now this is just not right… Icelanders do have a high rate of SAD. In fact we are crazy pill poppers when it comes to antidepressants. And as all grandmothers say: “Fish is good for your heart!” But you know… some say this and others that concerning fish.

    Now I am not trying to be a jerk (you will probably think I am), but your experience of Iceland is rather narrow minded.

    But hey, love the photos!

    Wishes of a good journey, wherever you are now headed
    -Gunnlaugur Bjarnason

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    Sölvi Þór Hannesson Reply:

    æ þegiðu gulli !

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    Gunnlaugur Bjarnason Reply:

    Hahaha!

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    Alexander Reply:

    But you know… who really cares about dogs, antidepressants and the suburbs? Hahaha

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Love all these comments. The SADs thing – in relation to other northern hemisphere countries, Iceland is meant to be low. As I say, these were all factoids I was told by Icelanders or read while I was there…and, as always, factoids are always disputable, no matter how many scientists were behind a study! Point taken re beer and 1989. I was sloppy with that one!

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    Siggi Reply:

    Hmm having read Gunnlaugur Bjarnasons comment i reccoment you drive straight through Selfoss if you come back :). But kidding aside.

    Were as different as we are many. But the people from down under are allways welcome in Iceland. :)

    Hanna Reply:

    Compared with the rest of the Northern hemisphere, it is true that Iceland has a very low rate of SAD, believe it or not! Although I think the regular type of depression is as common as anywhere else.

    http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?Volume=157&page=234&journalID=13

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  • HungryHippo

    my gosh! i LOVE your drawstring scarf/beanie!

    did you find that in iceland?!

    does it have a special name?

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    Yep – 66degrees North is an Icelandic company.

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    Gab Reply:

    So funny, I was passing through Iceland a few weeks ago and bought the same scarf in the airport, I thought it looked familiar. It will definitely be cozy this winter!

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  • ICELANDER

    High school last until we are 16 (10 grades from 6 years old til 16) then comes College and Uni after that :)

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    Jonah Reply:

    Menntaskóli is not College. It’s the equivalent of High School or Junior College (which is distinctly different from actual College). You won’t get accepted into College in any country after you graduate from Grunnskóli.

    Icelanders graduate from College at the age of 20, not 19, by the way.

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    Kristín Reply:

    I think it would be better to use the words Primary school from 6-16 and secondary school from 16-20 ;)

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    Jonah Reply:

    Children in most parts of the world start secondary school as adolescents (around 10-11), not in their late teens. So, no.

    Viktoría Reply:

    Icelander go to gymnasium from 16-20 where they have a major, social science, buisness, natural science, but it is quite general. IT is the equivalent of the last years of high school and the first years of college. Then they continue on to college where the majors become more pronounced psychology, electrical engineer etc. from 20 to 23 where at complection they receive a B.A. or B.S.

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  • Ingimundur

    What a great journey-blog Sarah – never mind factual well inconsistencies (we touchy Icelanders..) – they only make the reading more enjoyable! Fun to see how mishmashed clothing people wear – makes me think I am able to make better use of my Smoking and Speedos! Look forward to more travel blogs – keep going!

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  • http://Www.gandmdesign.co.nz Gretchen

    You should watch the Inspired by Iceland video, it’s brilliant, and captures some of what you’re talking about, Sarah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG92NUXKzZ0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    I have. The link is in my next hiking post.

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  • http://urmull.tumblr.com Anna

    An amazing post and lovely photos!

    Just wanted to point on thing out to you, Icelanders actually don’t marry young. Far from it! Is is very, very common for people to get together and have kids and THEN get married many years later. I promise that you will find just as many unmarried couples with kids in their thirties as married ones, maybe more even! A lot of people have kids in their early twenties and there are a lot of single parents here, but it’s considered to be absolutely fine and normal :) Lot of working single mothers e.g.!

    Great blog! xxx

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  • Gunnar

    Another short documentary about Iceland. Very entertaining.

    http://vimeo.com/38434839

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  • Elías

    Actually dogs were not banned in Iceland, they were just banned within the city of Reykjavík.

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  • Elías

    Also, to rectify an ignorant commenter above: Icelandic high school is from 16 to 20. We have the highest number of high-school dropouts in the western world.

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  • Ally

    Hi Sarah,

    I went to Iceland 3 months ago (almost.. sigh miss it already!).
    Few things.. Icelanders are DEFINATELY not expressionless or boring.
    I travelled with 2 friends (all 3 of us are geology nuts so Iceland is clearly porn for geologists) and we travelled out of Reykjavik to plenty of places inc. Selfoss, Geyser, Eyrarbakki, Vestmannaeyjar and many more. Every person we came across and spoke to was friendly, happy and easy going. The Icelanders we met sorta reminded us of Aussies in a lot of ways (they also do like a drink or two..) Even our super jeep tour guide encouraged the local tipple when we had lunch at the base of Eyjafjallajokull. (and no I didn’t need to copy and paste that one.. know it all too well now.) They also have a great sense of humour.

    One of the best stays we had in Iceland was at Eyrarbakki in a guesthouse. The woman who owned it was so wonderful, hospitable and kind. She even played the latest Sigor Ros album for us while we ate a delicious breakfast. Her dog was very cute too.

    On the last night there, we were rewarded with one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen at midnight.

    If I could have had any 2 things to take home from Iceland, they would be Skyr and Freyja beer. But if it was closer to Australia, I’d travel there a lot more.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristinhav/ Kristin

    funny post and cool photos.. but you need to visit again, en leave Reykjavik out of the equation – take a trip to the eastern part, and northern part of Iceland.. Check out the little tiny villages that lie under beautiful mountains, and harsh surroundings.. Now that is Iceland at its finest….
    I pin alot of photos from all around Iceland, and i would love to share them with you…
    Come visit y´all ;)
    http://pinterest.com/kristinhavards/my-iceland/

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    Kristin Reply:

    AND leave Reykjavik out…….

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  • http://self-knittedgal.blogspot.com Madara

    Nice blog post. This is what I miss about Iceland. See I live on the country-side and life there is all another story! ! ! Not worse, but just different. You dont even have a picture of lopapeysa here!

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  • http://www.weirdgirlsprojectfilm.tv Adrienne

    It was Weird enough for me to want to go for the weekend and be a Weird Girl. Then I decided to make a documentary about that. Then I moved there. Don’t go. You won’t want to leave and if you do your soul will call you back again and again.
    Its got everything, art, culture, internet connectivity, peace, quiet, creativity, nature, good food. I hear the bells of Hallgrímskirkja church every 15 minutes from my apartment in the centre of town that overlooks the mountains, the sea and the church.
    It’s heaven. Well it is to me.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/olafur Ólafur

    Sarah. You definitely qualify for Ice-kookiness – Please return as often as you like :)

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  • Alex

    Wow there is so much wrong things in this article.

    People do not tend to marry young. Most people do not marry but they have children very young and with many men. Many times its 3 children with 3 men or 2 men.

    and boys have 2-3 children with more than one woman. Its not often that children have same mother and father.

    People here usually have children before university.

    and its clear you were walking where people wear weird clothes. I never see this in daily life. It depends where u hang out.

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    Oddny Reply:

    Oh common! How anal can you be?

    There WERE not that many things wrong in the article, and I loved that she showed the pics from downtown Reykjavik, and not the countryside. As a former downtown Reykjavik person, I recognized everything!

    I was also so happy to not find a hint of description of “the noble savage” which foreigners are so happy to assign to Icelanders. When people beg us not to become too “Westernized” I usually drop off and stop reading.

    A lovely blog, wonderful photos and please don’t mind my fellow Icelanders who just HAVE to correct everyone on every small detail….

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    Alex Reply:

    How anal can I be? How rude can you be?
    Only icelandic person is this rude.

    And you say former downtown Reykjavik person, oh well Im a current downtown Reykjavik person.

    And most of this article is crap. I hate that people that spread nonsense about Iceland and Reykjavik.

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    Jonah Reply:

    Icelanders don’t usually have children before University. They have them way too early but the majority does not give birth before 20-21. That’s just ignorant.

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    Anna Reply:

    It’s not true that most people have children before uni or with three people. Some do, but it’s a minority.

    Most people have their first child in their twenties, and instead of the “starter marriage” people have in countries like the US, couples tend to live together and not get married until after some year of cohabiting.

    Of course, not all relationships last. What I see as a common pattern is that you have your first child and your first live-in relationship, then split up, and then meet and marry your future partner so that one of you or both have a child from a previous relationship.

    I don’t know anybody who’s on their third marriage, and I’m in my forties. Third live-in relationship, maybe, but not third marriage. Most of my friends don’t even have a first marriage. They have just lived with their partner for 10 to 20 years.

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    Þórdís Bára Reply:

    I´m in my sixties;) I don´t know anyone on their third marriage and only few on there second marriage.
    Love
    Bára

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  • http://vickitheviking.blogspot.com/ Vicki

    Hi Sarah, a lovely fun post. I am an Aussie who fell in love with the landscape of Iceland and moved here in 2010, I also love the sense of humour and dry wit that the people of this magnificent country seem to have, however it is the north and country areas that appeal to me more than Reykjavik.

    Also as a autoimmune sufferer (Rheumatoid Arthritis) I find the rest of your blog of great interest.

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  • nic

    Good stuff!

    I am a Sydney boy, my 5+ year girlfriend is Icelandic and I lived/worked there for 20-odd months.

    They are a great bunch, cooky and arty, honest and blunt. Only things that are factoids and bummers are I have dozens of Icelandic friends, from huge families, but unfortunately their young breeding and relationships never seem to last! Everyone is onto their third marriage!

    The fashion sense was great, but never rubbed off, i always stood out in my blue jeans and plain bonds t-shirts.. plain Aussie male..

    And i only speak one language.. major black eye in the land of linguistic geniuses, but i am halfway to Icelandic!

    Have my girl (Halla) in Sydney now, but we’ll be back soon! Just as soon as I can maybe get a job there, need the economy to strengthen.

    Next time if you go back, try to get invited to Icelandic house parties, Icelandic country house parties, go camping, and definitely never never never spend 10 days in Reykjavik! There country is all about the country! If you have 10 days, allocate a weekend to the city and the rest to the rest… the place is like a fairy tale.

    Good stuff.

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  • http://www.thorvald.is Thórunn

    dogs were banned because of a horrible worm disease that travelled from sheep via dogs to humans / as big wormbladders as 30 liter were cut out of humans
    beer was late surviver of the ca 1915-1936 alchohol ban (= USA) targeted because we had horrible alchoholism

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    Hafthorp Reply:

    This is just not true, the ban where only to control how many dogs where in Reykjavik and people had them not running free.

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  • http://www.thorvald.is Thórunn

    when dogs were fully allowed and free in Reykjavík all media forgot to mention why they were banned in the first place – very shallow, they should have contacted historians

    [Reply]

    Sarah Wilson

    Sarah WilsonSarah Wilson Reply:

    what were the reasons Thorunn?

    [Reply]

    Hafthorp Reply:

    Dogs where never “banned” in Reykjavik! You only need to apply for permit and pay a fee. Even tho dogs where “banned” every one was allowed to have dog.

    Beer was banned in Iceland, because Spanish did not want to buy from us fish unless we bought from them wine. I thing for it to be possible to sell here in Iceland beer was banned to import.

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  • http://www.ulfarloga.blogspot.com Úlfar Loga

    Love your pictures!

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  • gauti

    hi im the guy in the photo with the caption why not….. i cant help noticing that im the only one who is not aware that there photo is being taken im not trying too be anal or whatever but if you had asked me i would have sad no i dont like getting my picture taken especially when im not aware of it can you please remove it…….thanks

    p.s i like your take on my country and everything its not that.

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  • Anna

    What do you mean by factoids? This is what I take it to mean:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factoid

    Besides that I really enjoy your blog, and especially your travel reports this summer (or winter for you).
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures of Iceland and the people there!

    /Anna from Sweden.

    [Reply]

  • http://ilivetotravel.me Raul (@ilivetotravel)

    What a phenomenal post! I love all the pictures – I totally get what you mean about them being kooky! And I love that they just don’t care! As if I needed for reasons to get to Iceland :)

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  • Janet Williams

    What a cool and happy place! The people look so happy! I would love to visit!

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  • indre

    what camera were you gues using? the pics look …..mmm

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  • Benna

    Loved the article and loved to see how you see the People and the city, thanks:)

    [Reply]

  • http://www.bricoleurknits.com Cirilia

    Hilarious! I was in Iceland styling some photo shoots in July and my new friend Maren fell in love with a suede fringe jacket I’d brought over…that’s her in your post! Having a very small world moment right now :) My impressions are here: http://www.bricoleurknits.com/post/29459937248/iceland-dayone

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  • emma

    im from Perth in Australia, but i live in Los Angeles.
    im so in love with Iceland that i married an Icelander after finding him there on a vacation. we are now about to have our first aussie/icelandic baby… i cant wait to raise him/her kooky!!!

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  • Gerard

    Sarah, your blog fills me with so much life! Love it. Iceland looks wonderful! My kookiness would fit in so well there.

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  • http://www.AI-Therapy.com/blog Fjola Helgadottir

    I am Icelandic but I lived in Australia for six years. All of my friends have been sharing your post all day on my Facebook. Icelanders love hearing what other people think about Iceland :) Thanks for a great post!

    [Reply]

  • http://www.jacintafleur.com jacinta

    I’ve been won over. Iceland is now on my to-go list. Thanks Sarah, love your perspective and sense of place <3

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  • Krista

    My husband and I lived in Iceland for 2 1/2 years in the early 90′s. What a beautiful and free place!! Wouldn’t trade the experience for anything :)

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  • Pen

    Must. Find. That. Boy.

    Good heavens, I have never seen someone so beautiful in my life! Amazing.

    [Reply]

  • Russell Moxham

    The Icelanders are kooky (all of them?) and/or you haven’t spent long enough in their company to get used to them. In the 19th century we had the ‘lustful Turk’. Now we have the ‘kooky Icelander’. It’s just another romantic/exotic label that doesn’t indicate anything much other than limited acquaintance–a limited frame of reference.

    [Reply]

    lighten up. Reply:

    Is she meant to meet all of them to form an opinion?.. heimskum manni, lighten up.

    Most Icelanders I know (i haven’t met them all yet either), like the label.

    [Reply]

    Katla Reply:

    I definitely do not like the label.

    I’m glad you, Sarah, liked your stay and had a good experience, but please be aware that the people that you met in down town Reykjavik do not represent all Icelanders.
    Hipsters exist in every (western) country. Just because you find them in Iceland doesn’t mean it has to be more “authentic” or special.

    What is special about Iceland however, is that there is only one “city”, so influences from elsewhere get very concentrated in one place. Reykjavik has all kinds of people though, and the “hipsters” hang out mostly in the center.

    The “hipster” way to be “creative” or “original” might be fun, but it is also quite commercialized and superficial. I’m not judging the individuals, many of my friends dress in original ways (not only Icelanders by the way, also my friends where I live in Montreal, Canada), and even I myself could probably be labeled as “kooky”, whatever that means.

    This article is fun, and the pictures are beautiful. But please, don’t make us all look the same, like a zoo of “special people”. Many of us don’t like that.

    [Reply]

  • Sara

    I really enjoyed this and great pictures!

    But to stay in 101 Reykjavik and present it as iceland is kinda like going to Bondi and do a take on the true blue aussie. Fun, hipster, cool and funky yes but hardly representional..and this is coming from a 101 gal who relocated to North Bondi a few years back :)

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  • http://vimeo.com/42947615 Rob Lilley

    You’ve perfectly illustrated while I’ve been bouncing in and out of there for the last few years… Only thing is, even though the winters are beautiful also, it’s just tough without the sunlight on the skin! Check out my vimeo for the rest of the country in October!

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  • Bjorn

    This is not the core Icelandic people you publish there, this the latte sipping 101 people who are not the real hardworking regular Icelander……

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    Oddny Reply:

    Again – lighten up! I’ve worked as a plumber, in a fish factory and caring for the elderly. And I consider myself being an Americano (can’t stand latte) sipping downtowner from Reykjavik. In case you didn’t realize, those people can work quite hard. They just rather spend their free time “sipping latte” than watching TV like the “hardworking, regular Icelander”.

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  • Amanda

    These photos are fantastic; thanks for sharing the fun element and natural beauty in the faces of some of the locals. The little dudes carving it up on the cardboard stage were great! I love the eclectic choice of fashions and you’ve managed to put together a great series from your time there in the Icelandic hood.

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  • Skarpi Iceland

    you want to see paradise ….go to the Vestfjörds , the five fingers my friends called it
    also the the wonder of the Eastfjörds …VestmannIsland and , Grimsey ..Island ….Hrísey Island ……North Iceland …..mostly the tourist only go South or South East ….and leave the rest …..Iceland is amazing country and I love living here , the only thing that is not good is the people who run the political side ..sadly …to say .
    all the best to you and yours ..
    Skarpi Iceland ….

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  • http://idunn.a123@gmail.com Idunn

    Young Icelandic people have kids pretty early and for the most part don’t get married until after they’ve had kids. And not being in a relationship with your child’s other parent is not a big deal at all. This is why step family’s are fairly common in Iceland. :)

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  • Wilfred

    hmmm., I dont think in all fairness you can judge Icelanders as kookie. You obviously sought out these type of people, style and stores I am an Icelander and most Icelanders dont dress or look like that…

    You can find this style anywhere in the world if you look for it.

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  • emma

    oh my goodness, get over it. this is her opinion, of her experience, of her vacation. everyone’s experience of every day life is different from everyone elses.
    she wrote the piece aimed at certain type of people that read her blog, if that gets them to visit Iceland and spend money there, then so be it. they will form their own opinions after that.

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  • http://familyadventureproject.org Stuart

    We spent a month in Iceland and much like you found it to be a wonderfully cool and creative culture. And so friendly and welcoming even in the wildest most remote parts. So funny we ended up asking ourselves if Iceland is one of the kookiest and most creative places on the planet? I mean the earth is still being created there so that’s gotta rub off somehow eh?

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  • Kara

    Thank you for this, my national pride just went through the roof!
    Check this out (if you haven’t already seen it);

    https://www.facebook.com/Eydibyli

    It’s a group of students that spend their summer researching abandoned farms/houses around the island.

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  • secrets

    my favourite post ever. you should move there. immediately. and take lots of lightbulbs.

    x

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  • http://www.magnusson.ca chris

    I attended a semi-formal function while I was there, and oh the colours of the makeup! And the clothes! Definitely not what you’d see in a remotely similar situation in North America.

    [Reply]

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  • http://www.facebook.com/birnaben Birna Benediktsdóttir

    Iceland is my homeland “AND I LOVE IT” :o) Cool Blogg you write….

    [Reply]

  • Hannah

    I have been following your blog via Gala Darling. Fun to see you visiting Reykjavík. I hope you have had a wonderful time!

    [Reply]

  • LUNDI

    Dear Sarah.

    My child is in one of your photos and I would really like to have a copy of it.
    I was wondering how I can contact you (privatly, not on an official site).

    BTW I love your blog and your photos, they show a part of my country that I love and enjoy.

    Love LUNDI

    [Reply]

  • Jeannette

    2 years ago I met the love of my life in Iceland. Both New Yorkers and we end up meeting there. Best trip of my life!!

    [Reply]

  • Alma Guðmundsdóttir

    This article is really lively and enjoyable. I see that you were wery happy with your trip to Iceland – and that´s good. I´m from Iceland and just say – you are always so welcome.
    There are few things which I´m always so proud of and that is for the first – we don´t have army here f.exa.
    The brightness in the summertime, bright nights ! Then the children are so free – playing outside for the whole evening !
    Sometimes I think we are like the teddybeers – very quiet in the wintertime – almost sleeping – but in the spring and the whole summer we are dancing, eating and having fun (of course we work and we do a lot of it)
    All of you – very welcome to our country !

    Alma

    [Reply]

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  • M

    The woman that you would like to be your “art teacher” is not icelandic though. I’m pretty sure she’s the swedish singer who came for the Melodica festival. Xenia Kriisin is her name I think. :)

    [Reply]

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  • http://furchtundelend Astrid Thora

    well actually that man and his daughter are German I think as he is wearing Trachten, namely the Loden blazer and Lederhosen and his socks are also quite Bavarian. He could be Austrian.

    [Reply]

    Astrid Thora Reply:

    I’m talking about the second picture you’ve uploaded.

    [Reply]

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  • http://gisellewalters.blogspot.com/ giselle

    Your page sure got me much more interested in going to Iceland. Now only if I can convince my friend to stay with me longer than a week! As I would really like to experience the culture as a local. I heard a local dj from SF talk about this “blue lagoon” somewhere out there, now, that I would certainly like to see in winter! Looking forward to spending some winter fun in Iceland soon.

    [Reply]

    Kristin Reply:

    Giselle… The Blue Lagoon is very close to the Keflavik international airport, expensive though, but unique and fun to visit..
    If you find someone to travel with you, take more than a week, 2-3 atleast and please dont hang around in Reykjavik for to long… Iceland is so much more than the city.. go drive to the top of a Glacier, go river-rafting, horseback riding on an icelandic farm, and drive to the Glacier lagoon in the SE-Iceland.. That is well worth it..

    [Reply]

  • alaina

    I’ve fallen in love with the “beautiful boy,” oh my i must find him…a name a number, something to see that beautiful face again :)

    [Reply]

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  • Robert Noble

    Hi,
    I’ve just moved to Reykjavik from Britain to live with my Icelandic girlfriend. I’m looking for work – I’m a plumber. I’d appreciate any help finding a job. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • RachelS

    I had a great time there in 2005 and would love to visit again. I really love Icelandic sheep!

    [Reply]

  • karen

    just spent 3 days in Iceland and was absolutely shocked by all the thoroughly gorgeous tall and handsome males….and I mean at EVERY age of the spectrum from the youngest to most senior of citizens! When people say they love the scenery in Iceland they aren’t just referring to the landscape!

    [Reply]