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.
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 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!
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.
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.]
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.
The men here are in a great head space. Young boys are extremely open and expressive and creative. A joy to observe…
Little boys are super free and expressive and dance a lot.
This video is just so cute.
As is she.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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”.
They’re quiet. Cafes and shops don’t generally have music. I loved this.
And by way of a final visual comment….this, taken when I walked over a spurty bit on the side of a volcano….
Inspired to go to Iceland? Or to mix up your style a bit? As fascinated by the factoids as I am?