“In Iceland there are four seasons: Morning, afternoon, evening and night.”—Helgi Christensen, an Icelandic ice climber explaining how the Icelandic weather drastically changes throughout the day despite being relatively stable in over the year to a journalist of Rock and Ice Magazine in 1998.
Last week a British couple got married in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. While the ceremony took place, their home was broken into and the bride’s engagement ring, the groom’s passport and the money for their honeymoon in Iceland was stolen. This was picked up by the Icelandic news, prompting Iceland Express to help them out. The airline will pay their flights as soon as they sort out the passport trouble.
hi, what can you tell us about Surtsey? and is it true that Iceland is splitting apart at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge?
Iceland is not so much splitting apart as it is emerging from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. As you may know, there’s a ridge that extends north south throughout the Atlantic. The ridge separates the North and South American tectonic plates from the Eurasion and African plates. As these plates are moving apart, eruptions are common along the whole ridge. Most go unnoticed far below the sea. However, under Iceland there happens to be a particularly hot spot, where magma easily rises to the surface and causes eruptions.
That is precisely how Iceland and Surtsey have formed. The plates are separating and magma flows to the surface. In the case of Iceland it all started a very very long time ago and in the case of Surtsey it started in 1963. In this way Iceland is actually growing. It is spreading east-west by about 1cm in each direction per year. You can best see this at Þingvellir National Park. There, the fissure, Almannagjá on the west side and corresponding cracks on the other side of the lake can be considered the borders of the continental plates. The lake in between, Þingvallavatn, is a geographical no-mans-land, neither a part of Europe nor North America.
In November 1963 smoke was seen out in the ocean close to the Vestmannaeyjar islands. People thought it was a ship on fire and sent boats to its rescue. It turned out that there was no ship, just a boiling ocean and a mix of steam and ash bubbling up to the surface. Eventually a small island began appearing and then another and another. The eruptions went on and off until 1967.
At the end of the eruption, the island was 2,7 square kilometers. Since then about half of it has been eroded away by the ocean and its two smaller siblings, Jólnir and Syrtlingur have completely disappeared. This does not mean that it will disappear in the next few decades though, as the island is more solid at its core and the erosion will slow down. Eventually its sandy beaches will probably disappear and it will resemble one of many small cliff islands in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago.
Surtsey is just about the only place in Iceland you can not visit. Due to the unique opportunity to research the settlement of new biological life on the island, it is only open to scientists and is classed as a UN World Heritage site. You can however see the island from the sea in boat trips from Vestmannaeyjar or on sightseeing flights.
Hallgrímskirkja church lit up for Reykjavík Winter Festival
Reykjavík makes use of the dark winter nights every year to put on the Reykjavík Winter Lights Festival or Vetrarhátíð in Icelandic. During an entire weekend the center of the city is filled with art, performances and happenings. All of the museums open their doors and offer free entrance throughout the day and evening with all sorts of special exhibitions. I predict that pictures from the opening ceremony last night, pictured here below will flood tumblr in the next few weeks. New York artist, Marcos Zotes, lit up Iceland’s famous Hallgrímskirkja church with unique light designs accompanied by music from Icelandic band, For a Minor Reflection. If you are in Reykjavík, then check out the schedule as the festival will continue all weekend.
Most of these photos are taken from Orkusalan, the sponsor of the display.
Hello! I was wondering what the word "samskeyti" means. It is a song by Sigur Ros & a lot of sources claim it means "attachment" but other translations say "joints." So confusing!
Samskeyti means joint or the place things are stuck together at. A word that begins with sam means something “together” like “samband” (relationship), literally “joint thread”.
I cant think of an Enlish word that means precisely the same thing. Samskeyti would mostly be used when describing how something is built. There is a samskeyti between the carpet and wooden floor. The body of my phone is built of two pieces of plastic and you can see the samskeyti between them.
You can also use it as a verb, as in “skeyta saman” something. All you have to do is skeyta saman a chunk of metal and a shaft of wood to make a hammer.
Oh yeah and there would definitely be a samskeyti between to conjoined twins. It would be located where the two are “skeyttir saman”.
Hello! My name is Alex, I am from the United States and I am 19. This May I am traveling to Iceland for 9 days by myself. My question to you is: Is Iceland a good place for a young traveler to go alone? Are the people friendly and approachable, and will I encounter too many language barriers?
Hi Alex and “velkominn” to Iceland.
Don’t worry at all about language barriers. Just about everybody in Iceland speaks good enough English to maintain a good conversation. A lot of us will have this cute Icelandic accent.
Icelanders are friendly, but not extremely open. Don’t sit around at a café waiting for somebody to say hi. The problem is very unlikely to be that they don’t want to talk. It’s more likely that we are shy and afraid of eye contact. However, if you initiate the conversation I’m pretty sure you can open people up. The best place to start a conversation would be at one of the public swimming pools. The hot pots there can be very lively discussion forums. Try asking: “Is it true that Iceland drinks more Coca Cola per capita than any other country in the world and has the most cars, public swimming pools, beautiful women and Prins Polo?” We win everything per capita and are very proud of it… You could also ask people when was the last time they met Björk or if they ever baby sitted Jónsi.
Just off the southern coast of Iceland lies a small archipelago called Vestmannaeyjar. Since I’ve been out skiing for the past week and neglecting the site, i’ll give you a good post today. Vestmannaeyjar is one of the most interesting places in Iceland and often overlooked, since you either need to fly or take the ferry.
The archipelago consists of 15 islands and around 30 islets. Several of the islands were inhabited permanently or seasonally in the past, but today only the main island Heimaey (E. Home Island) is inhabited. Just over 4000 people live in the town on Heimaey.
Vestmannaeyjar is loaded with history. The name which means “Islands of west men” is thought to be derived from Ingólfur Árnason. Ingólfur who came to Iceland in the year 874 is generally considered the first settler of Iceland. The tales of him will have to wait for a later post. However, his first winter he put up camp on the cape of Ingólfshöfði (close to Skaftafell), while his brother Hjörleifur Árnason camped on Hjörleifshöfði (close to Vík). The following spring Ingólfur sailed west and discovered that his brother had been murdered by his slaves. From Hjörleifshöfði you can see Vestmannaeyjar, and he correctly assumed that the slaves were hiding there. Naturally, being a viking he chased them around the islands and killed them all. Several places in the islands bear the name of the slave killed there. Since these slaves were Irish, they were called Vestmenn (E. West Men) by the Scandinavians and hence the name Vestmannaeyjar.
The islands have been inhabited at least since the 10th century, but the population has thrice been cut down considerably. First by pirates, second by sickness and finally by an eruption.
In 1627 about half the population (242 people) were abducted by pirates in an event called Tyrkjaránið (E. The Turkish Abductions). Many more were taken in other parts of the country. This event caused great fear in Iceland and lives strongly in the collective memory of Icelanders. An Icelandic urban legend says that after the abductions, it was legal to kill all Turks in Iceland, until somebody noticed that the law was still in place when Turkey played in the Handball World Cup in Reykjavík in 1995. That’s probably not entirely true and would be quite unfortunate, especially since the pirates weren’t really Turks. They were mostly Moroccans and Algerians under the command of a Dutchman acting on orders of the Ottoman Empire. Some of the people eventually managed to return to Iceland. The most famous of them was Guðríður Símonardóttir who later married one of Iceland’s most renowned poets, Hallgrímur Pétursson.
The second cut in the population occurred in the 18th century when lots of people got sick and died. That’s not as interesting as violence and volcanoes, so let’s turn to the next one.
On the 23rd of January 1973 the people in Heimaey were awaken by an eruption. At first people thought it was a grassfire lit by some kids, but it actually turned out to be a large eruption. More than half of the towns houses were destroyed or severely damaged. Many houses caught fire as molten lava rocks were scattered across the town, others collapsed under the weight of ash on the roofs and about 300 houses were completely engulfed by lava. My mother in law’s house for example is buried deep under the new mountain. Fortunately nobody died during the eruption. Bad weather had preceded the eruption and all the ships were in harbor. This made evacuation very easy for the small fishing community. What is actually most amazing is that people fought the volcano. Many houses were saved and most importantly, the opening of the harbor was saved, by pumping seawater onto the glowing red lava. By doing this they were able to cool down sections of lava and direct the lava rivers out into the ocean. The battle went on until the volcano quieted down five months later. Many people, having lost their homes, never returned to Vestmannaeyjar and the population shrank from 5.273 to just over 4.000.
If you want to go to Vestmannaeyjar, there are basically two choices. You can fly from Reykjavík (ca. 25min) with Ernir or go with the ferry. Once you are there you can go on all sorts of boat tours, the volcano museum, “The Pompeii of the north" or just explore the island on your own. If you don’t bring a car with you, you can rent a scooter and see the whole island.
Oh and if you are still not convinced, check out these great panoramas that Ivan Dasko posted to Iceland in Pictures facebook wall recently. The photographer in this panorama is standing on top of the new lava field with several houses beneath him. The other panorama looks across the town and the Herjólfsdalur valley. Herjólfsdalur is famous for attracting roughly 10.000 people for the annual Þjóðhátíð (E. National Holiday) every August. It’s not really a national holiday of any sorts, but it is Iceland’s largest outdoor party. Both of the panoramas feature the new volcano, Eldfell (E. Fire Mountain). It is the red sloping peak which has little vegetation on it.
Hae! May I ask you to tell me that is the word áttavitar related with the number 8? btw tuttugu is a funny number but níutíu is almost as töff Takk Fyrir!
Áttavitar is the plural of áttaviti, which means compass. Áttaviti is a conjunction of two words, átt (direction) and viti knower/teller/indicator), thus “direction indicator”. If you were to spell out the number eight in Icelandic, it would be átta. I actually don’t think there is any relation between the átta (8) and átt (direction).
If you on the other hand think about the relations between the Icelandic words and their English counterparts you can find connections. “Eight” and “átta” are clearly related although quite different, just as most if not all of the numbers. Einn = one, tveir = two, þrír = three, fjórir = four, fimm = five, sex = six, sjö = seven, átta = eight, níu = nine and tíu = ten. The two languages lie on two different branches of the Germanic language tree.
Tuttugu (20) is a pretty funny sounding number I suppose. Níutíu simply means “nine ten”. You might like “þrettán” (13) as well, pronounced something like “threat-town” with a strong th beginning and a strong rolling r. “Þrettánhundruðsextíu og tvö” is the year that “tíu þúsund” cubic kilometers of ash erupted from Öræfajökull.
Hi there, I don't have any specific questions right now, just wanted to say thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of Iceland and the information coming with them. I will be travelling to Iceland in October, together with my son. Flights are booked, now I'm looking for nice accomodations and the best way to get around. I've been wanting to travel to Iceland for ages - now it's within my grap :) Cheers from Germany, Jutta