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Old 29th Apr 2003, 06:48   #1 (permalink)
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Mrs Synthetic has just come up with a cunning scheme. She is off to Iceland on holiday

Now let me put this in context. Not wishing to get involved in sexual stereotyping, but she frequently got frozen feet in the sandpit

So what is Iceland like? Anything she should see, eat, drink or avoid? (No mention of yellow snow please)
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 06:57   #2 (permalink)

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Well, I don't know how long the good Mrs Synthetic is planning on spending in the said kingdom of Iceland, but I have a tale to tell. Traveling through Rekjavik on my way back from Luxembourg to the States. Airplane over booked, the offer to pax - overnight free in hotel, next plane out the following evening, $200 (some years back), and, I quote, " a tour of the country in the morning".

Says it all really.

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Old 29th Apr 2003, 11:28   #3 (permalink)
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So when is she supposed to arrive ? soon or maybe a little closer to summer ?

By the way, why aren't you going with her ?

ohhh.....more and more questions....

It depends really if she is going to be in Reykjav'k or if she's planning on going to the countryside. Steaming down glaciers on a snowmobile is a little bit different than being offered a hilariously expensive beer when she is painting the town red (so to speak)

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Old 29th Apr 2003, 12:08   #4 (permalink)
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I used to visit Iceland quite regularly a rather long time ago - fascinating place for a few days' holiday.
Big problem in summer is going for a drink and waiting for it to get dark before going to bed... fell off the bar stool a few times before I acclimatised.
Big problem in winter is deciding to have an all night session and waiting for the sun to come up befiore going to bed ... fell off - well you get the idea...
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 12:18   #5 (permalink)
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It's like the surface of the Moon, except with air & snow.
That allows people to walk around without spacesuits & stuff.
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 13:28   #6 (permalink)
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Iceland is an absolutley fantastic place for a holiday.

Must see sights include:

The Blue lagoon - iridescent blue hot steam baths with supposed mineral healing properties.
Gullfoss - a mindblowing waterfall
Thingvellir - a geological rift and seat of the world's first democracy back in 980AD.
Jokulsarlon - the lake at the base of Vatnajokull glacier. Featured in 2 separate Bond films.
Snaefell (visible from Reykjavik) - the volcano into which Jules Verne descended into the middle of the earth
Bolti guesthouse near Skaftafell Nat Park is well worth a visit too - lovely views over the endless plains that were submerged in the spectacular Joukullaup (glacier floods caused by lava under the Ice) in 97.

Its walso worth a read of some of the Sagas before you head there - Najls saga etc. One you have got through the genealogy, they are quite fascinating. And brutal.

Once you see the landscape and the weather, you understand how and why the early viking settlers were so brutal.

Nowdays however, Iceland is a safe and very friendly destination. Drinking is rather expensive, but make sure you head out on a Friday night! Head out around 11pm, and make sure you are a little tipsy before hand (you blend in better) and watch the action.

Take special note of the speed that Icelanders procure their night's partner from the bar.....it takes minutes.

Enjoy it, and dont forget your credit card.
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 18:22   #7 (permalink)

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Iceland for hols? I just go to the freezer section of Sainsbury's for the day
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 18:39   #8 (permalink)
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Exclamation The food

I forgot to mention the food.

There's the rotten shark. Traditionally it was buried in the sand on the beach, left to tenderise, then eaten a few months later. When cooked the whole place smells of ammonia.

Rams balls on pizza. girl invited me to her place to try it.


And various other bits of mammal cooked in any number of ways.

These are obscure delicacies...for special occasions. The rest of the supermarkets etc are stocked with what you'd be used to in the UK...

The foods range from to
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 19:03   #9 (permalink)
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Compressor Stall beat me to most of them, but there's a very friendly little airfield in the centre of Reykjavik by a big hotel (Loftleider Hotel - but I'm sure that's NOT how you spell it). They do excellent flying tours over the glaciers and volcanoes and out to some of the islands. Can't recommend them highly enough. It's well worth having a chat with them because they'll tailor the tour to exactly what you want, and the leaving times are very flexible.

The food's excellent, but puffin takes a little getting used to. The only problem is it's expensive. On the plus side they'll relieve you of just about any currency in existence!

Enjoy. I go back as often as I can. Great country.
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 19:16   #10 (permalink)
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Snaefell (visible from Reykjavik)
Blood and sand! They always said that you could see six kingdoms from the top of Snaefell - England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Kingdom of God. Never realised you could see Iceland as well

Oh, hang on, there's another Snaefell is there?

Iceland - facinating place for a short break. I'd recommend the afore mentioned Loftlieder Hotel and request a room that overlooks the airport - it was an education seeing the airport workers tying down the light aircraft when the storm hit the place... And the ATCO's at BIRD centre wear comfy slippers to work. Good on 'em

Oh, and if you thing Reykjavik is a bit remote, take a trip up to Akureyri in the north...
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 19:53   #11 (permalink)
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Thumbs up

Featured on a TV program recently. Couples swap their planned holidays. The idea is that the one they get is diametrically opposed to their usual choice.

Anyway, a couble of "clubbing" girls got Iceland, and totally fell in love with it after seeing the stunning views. Their intial reaction was not good!

Will post name of program and details of I can find them, so you can see the repeat. Happy for anyone to beat me to it!

In the meantime, try:


Last edited by newswatcher; 29th Apr 2003 at 20:22.
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Old 29th Apr 2003, 20:46   #12 (permalink)
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Exellent to hear your view of our little rock in the north.

Just a few corrections though....

Snaefell is actually in this case SnŠfellsj÷kull (Snaefellsglacier)

The world's oldest functioning legislative assembly, the Althing, was established in 930.

The rotten shark ( s˙r hßkarl ) isn't eaten by nearly all..
It is more of a trick we play on foreigners. Our humour can get a bit satire. Allthough there are quite many who eat the lot, the shark, rams balls and such but that is more like tradition than anything else.

However if you'll be offered a chance to taste it, I personally wouldn't touch the aboved mentioned, exept what I can only explain as dried fish (har­fiskur).
I have yet to meet an Icelander that isn't in love with it, it's universal here in Iceland. That is one of the things that my ancestors lived on, but today it's an expensive delicasy (spelling) and exellent tv snack. By the way it's absoloutly full of omega 3. ( good for your heart ). I'm starting to sound like a traveller agend.

You could also say yes on what we call hangikj÷t, which is basically smoken lambs leg. ( actually the best one is smoked with dried cow droppings, but that's another story)

Well, compressor stall, if she had offered you the rams ball, she has to be pulling your leg. At least if she was under 50yrs.

The hotel you all talk about is called Loftlei­ir ( Loftleidir ).
There is a big argument that the RVK airport (BIRK) should go and the private flying should go to Keflav'k (BIKF). that would propably kill what is left of sport/private flying.

Any questions ?


P.s. interesting link if you are not familiar with some countries.
CIA World Factbook

Last edited by proxus; 29th Apr 2003 at 21:09.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 12:14   #13 (permalink)
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Thanks in varying degrees to all the folks who took the trouble to answer.

The reason I am not going is that I can't get off work

I was surprised Snaefell got a mention - I spent most of my sixteenth summer walking, running and even carying things up it but that particular one was on IOM.

Thanks all
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 15:17   #14 (permalink)
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Yes, the har­fiskur,

I subsequently ended up in Greenland with a bunch of Icelanders who'd bought the food for our backcountry ski trip...they had brought har­fiskur and butter and more har­fiskur and more butter.

I ended up loving it! Tasted better than the seal we got from the local inuit.

And Proxus, thanks for the corrections...I learnt as much as I could in the 6 weeks I was skiing and climbing there, but not enough obviously! My Old Norse techer would be horrified. (Yes I did study that at university in Australia!)


Last edited by compressor stall; 30th Apr 2003 at 15:27.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 16:28   #15 (permalink)
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I read that there are no trees of any kind on iceland, is this true?.
Couldn't live without trees I couldn't, niether could small hound.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 16:35   #16 (permalink)

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'Tis true Drapes, int never seen no trees on the rock.

Tell Missus Synthetic to try whale steaks. There's a fish restaurant not far from the Hotel Borg (in fact on a blerry wide 3 lane road which name escapes me) that serves it.

proxus, is that shark meat that yers bury in the ground, pee on it then leave it for 3 months or so before eating?
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 17:51   #17 (permalink)
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Trees were there, fer sure, but they cut em up fer longboats so's they could visit Anglia to swipe some girls. After all, a cold tree is na's goode as a warm lassie. Thing was, the dattirs reproduced handily, but the sheep got all the seedling trees, so soon it was only grasses, sheeps and lasses to brighten the long cold. They're a smiling lot, even so. Enjoy living for the halibut.

Better to think of the well-aged shark as more like a cheese... not fer cooking, but to savour in dainty bits.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 18:06   #18 (permalink)
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Very violent place in the past was Iceland, the main hobby seemed to be burning each other alive in their houses, mere putting to the sword such as we went in for around these parts, was looked upon as very dull.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 19:02   #19 (permalink)
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There are most certainly some trees in the Iceland, but not very many. I'll happily be clarified on this, but it is not entirely certain how big the trees there used to be. Its been lost a bit in translation for the word for tree can both mean short shrubby things in existance now and bigger trees... proxus can you clarify that? I'd have to dive into my uni textbooks to find out....

There is most certainly a forest in the valley east of Vatnajokull - I was descending into the valley and had to pick my way through the forest with skis on my rucksack. But its really a collection of large shrubs - about 10 foot high and rather gnarled. The irony of scrub-bashing with skis was lost in my haste to get to the roadhead that night - when my 10 day SAR deadline expired. (I made it - just).

A short walk from the aforementioned Bolti guest house affords wonderfull views of baejarstathaskogur - a forest on the south eastern slopes of Vatnajokull (Icecap bigger than all of Europe's glaciers put together ).

The biggest "forests" are apparently in the north - near Aukureyri.

Also - be very careful how you talk to Icelanders about thier plantation forests. I was hitchhiking south from Egilstathir on the East Coast driving through a large plantation. Driver started talking about the plantation. I said "how old are they, 5 years?" as the trunks were scarcely thicker than a woman's lower leg.
"Twenty-five years actually," came the very terse reply.
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Old 30th Apr 2003, 21:16   #20 (permalink)
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In Iceland we have a kind of saying about our trees.

>What do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forrest ?<
Errr.... You stand up!

Not many trees, short and far apart. We have been taught that before the island was settled (spelling) there was trees from the see and all the way to the mountains. Then we brought in the sheep and with slow growing trees 'cos of cold climate and scarce sunlight, the sheep managed to get rit of most of them.

>CR2< I probably think the restaurant you mentioned is called "Ůr'r Frakkar" which could be called in english "three Frenchmen" or even "three overcoats" as in some inflections they mean the same .

The whale mead, I have not tried that, however I hear that it's not that different from nice regular piece of steak. ( I'm not going into the whole whale hunting issue, even though there are far to many of them around the island, 3-5 hundred thousands ! )

About the shark meat, I think that it is just a remaining myth that in the process, they piss on the shark. It is hanged in outdoor shack for a few months. They have to be processed by people who know how, because they could be dangerous otherwise.

Why do we (some of us) eat rams balls, 'svi­' which is the face of the sheep, and all that ? simple, for a large chunk of time, namely from your settlement (874) to recently passed century (around 1900) the only thing we were able to live on, was the sheep.
Of course we had other kind of food like seal, whale ( few and far apart usually selfdead ) and fish. But we had not very effective methods to ?collect? them.
Therefore, we stripped the wool from the sheep and made clothes, and then ate everything there was to find on them.
Just imagine "survivor" for an extended edition, say 50 year perioud, certainly you would eat what you could get your hands on.

Even though it's a dark past, we are still proud of it.
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