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Reykjavķk Grapevine

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Reykjavķk Grapevine

						 - the reykjavík grapevine -28 july 25th - august 7th, 2003  - the reykjavík grapevine - 29july 25th - august 7th, 2003
One of the first stops for any visitor, 
and situated very close to Keflavik?s 
international airport. The lagoons´ mud 
is believed to have healing powers, 
especially for people suffering from 
psoriasis or other skin diseases.The 
distinctive blue colour is due to the 
warmth and the high level of silicone 
in the water.Sadly, there´s no evidence 
that this increases cleavage size.
In 930 a.d. the Vikings decided they 
needed to find a way to settle their 
disagreements, so they founded a 
parliament, and called it Alþingi. Today, 
although relocated, it is the oldest 
(sometimes) functioning parliament in 
the world, The Vikings, when not busy 
hacking limbs of one another, were 
quite aware of the beauty of nature and 
picked this breathtaking spot to meet. 
The American and European continen-
tal plates meet precisely here.
Usually these two are mentioned to-
gether, partly because of geographic 
proximity, partly because they both 
start with the letter G. Geysir is the 
geyser from which all geysers derive 
their name. Sadly, it rarely erupts these 
days, the family business having been 
taken over by heir Strokkur. Gullfoss is 
generally thought to be Icelands most 
beautiful waterfall, hence the name, 
meaning ?Golden Waterfall.?
Probably one of the most popular jeep 
excursions tours is a round trip from 
Reykjavik to Landmannalaugar. Not 
surprising since Landmannalaugar is 
actually a natural swimming pool in 
the middle of Iceland?s highland desert. 
Don?t bring shampoo or soap because 
this pool is so natural that we wouldn?t 
want to spoil it would we? If you?re up to 
a 12 hour journey, most of the time in-
side a huge jeep, it is usually worth it.
O U T S I D E  T H E  C I T Y
You wake up hung over in a collapsed 
tent. It is raining and there is someone 
that you do not know lying beside you. 
All of your clothes are wet. All of your 
belongings are either ruined or they 
have been stolen. You are not sure 
about what has happened in detail, but 
the fact that some days before you took 
the healthy decision of packing loads of 
alcohol in a rucksack and going to the 
countryside to celebrate a bank holiday 
weekend seems quite obvious to you 
given the dreary circumstances.
 We make up excuses for drinking 
on every occasion. The first Monday 
of August is a bank holiday and the 
preceding weekend we go to one of 
numerous festivals located all around 
the countryside packing everything 
necessary (alcohol, some food, 
alcohol, some clothing and, of course, 
alcohol) and leaving behind everything 
unnecessary (ethics and prudence). 
 Among the oldest and most popular 
festivals would be Galtalækur (Boars 
Creek) and Vestmannaeyjar (Westman 
Islands). Galtalækur has gained a 
reputation as a family festival for dried up 
alcoholics? so many a teenager takes 
his first steps towards alcoholism during 
that festival, smuggling in booze by any 
means possible.  It is now only a family 
festival and not run by AA anymore, 
so maybe the teenage drinking has 
decreased. Vestmannaeyjar have their 
own national holiday. The reason for 
a special national holiday on an island 
which is (still) Icelandic, dates back to 
1874, when the granting of the first 
constitution by the king of Denmark was 
being celebrated. The Vestmannaeyjar 
folk wanted to take part in the festivities 
but could not make it there on account 
of a storm preventing them to sail 
to the mainland. So they decided to 
have their own national festival, which 
lasted the whole weekend.  It was so 
much fun they decided to do it again 
next year.  And then every year since. 
To most people it is the nicest festival 
and personally I prefer it because of 
the sense of history and tradition which 
give the festivities increased value as a 
festival which is not just about drinking 
your self into oblivion, although this is 
certainly done as well. 
 There are numerous downsides to 
these festivals. In the first place the 
expenses are gigantic since you have to 
get yourself there and then pay to get 
in, In addition you have to bring three 
days worth of alcohol and we all know 
how expensive that is on our island. 
And the weather usually sucks. It is not 
uncommon that it rains a lot and it gets 
so stormy sometimes that the tents 
blow out in the wind. The crime rate 
also explodes. There was an incident 
in a festival called Eldborg a couple of 
years ago when a gang of guys gave 
?date-rape? drugged drinks to girls and 
then they walked around gang banging 
their passed out victims using an igloo 
tent which they had cut out the bottom 
off so they could put it over the girls and 
do their thing in peace. 
 Apart from such atrocities, which 
fortunately are rare but do happen, 
festivals can be pretty claustrophobic, 
since you are in an isolated place which 
you can not just walk away from if it gets 
boring? actually I think that is one of 
the main reasons for this excessively 
heavy drinking? you just have got 
enjoy yourself somehow, otherwise you 
realise where you are and get depressed 
(editorial note: much 
the same might be 
said of Iceland in 
 The music sucks 
too. It is played by 
cover bands who 
all share the same 
sound and same 
really bad taste in 
music. All of them 
cover exactly the 
same songs in 
exactly the same 
way. When the 
bands have been 
around long enough 
they manage to 
make their own songs, but since they 
have only been playing cover songs, 
their own material tends to be a pop 
music in a bizarre mixture of other 
music styles and genres. Therefore it is 
not uncommon to hear in one song a hint 
of some eighties glamour metal, some 
seventies disco and funky death-metal, 
even all at once in a strange mix. It may 
look interesting on paper but do not be 
fooled? it is truly bad to listen to and to 
enjoy it you have to either be a person 
with absolutely no taste in music or 
sufficiently out of it to enjoy it ironically. 
Given that we Icelanders drink a lot we 
can not blame these bands existence on 
anyone but ourselves since we make up 
the masses who ultimately attend their 
shows, but foreigners beware, do not 
let your selves get sucked in? you will 
regret it for ever!
 The upside can be the fun of going 
out of the city and live completely free of 
all boundaries of clubs and their dress 
codes. As stated above, every sense of 
ethic and prudence is left at home (some 
take it too seriously though? hence the 
rapes) so the fun can be pretty damn 
crazy and it is said that EVERYONE gets 
laid causing a birth explosion in May 
since nobody has sense to use proper 
protections in his or her drunken stupor. 
(editorial note: this is not literally true. 
Grapevine has found out the hard way to 
never trust statisticians.) 
 Things to bring: Alcohol, food, tent, 
warm and water resistant clothing 
(umbrellas are not enough). Places 
to go: Vestmannaeyjar, Galtalækur, 
Akureyri, Kántríbær (the northern 
wild wild west celebration), and many 
others? posters are everywhere. 
Bands to avoid: Írafár (avoid the singer 
and 2003 Eurovision contestant Birgitta 
Haukdal), Í Svörtum Fötum (avoid that 
singer too), Skítamórall, Á Móti Sól, 
Follow the above, and let the 
good times roll.
Aðalsteinn Jörundsson
For some reason, single men were frequent visitors to the hospital, 
although none appeared injured. (Photo: Geiri | http://goto.to/eyjar)
The biggest town in the east.  The 
festival is held by the local blues, 
rock and jazz club, Brján, who play 
on Friday.  Stuðmenn, the country?s 
best goodtime band play on the 
Sunday evening.  Also hosts the Golf 
Championship of the North Country, 
and Tour de Norðfjörður.  Entrance 
is free.   
Iceland?s oldest and biggest festival. 
Apparently, the scenery there is 
great, but few guests ever notice. 
The highlight has always been the 
slope singalong, hosted by politician 
and artist Árni Johnsen, sort of 
Iceland´s Jeffrey Archer, who is 
currently in jail for corruption, but his 
release might be secured in time.
For those who are not attracted by 
the prospect of rolling around dead 
drunk in a sleeping bag in the great 
outdoors, this is undoubtedly the 
best option.  It is in fact the most 
music orientated of the festivals, with 
some of the best underground bands 
rather than the obligatory jolly cover 
bands of the outdoor festivals.
Has both kinds of music, Country 
and Western. Immortalised in a 1984 
film by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson.  Run 
by the original Icelandic Cowboy 
Hallbjörn Hjartarson, who has so 
far released 8 C&W albums and also 
runs a radio station, sadly only heard 
in the North.  Don?t forget the whisky 
and the beans.  Or the hat.
The sober family festival, supposedly, 
as alcohol is not permitted.  People 
are said to have gone to great 
lengths to smuggle it in, injecting 
it into oranges supposedly being a 
favourite method.  Still, if you have 
the little uns along, and can stay in 
a tent without drinking yourself to 
sleep, this one?s for you.
AT SKAGASTRÖND Siglufjörður is the northernmost 
town in Iceland.  In the first half of 
the 20th Century, it was the best port 
for herring fishing, the ?silver of the 
sea,? people came there in droves 
looking for employment and a sort of 
gold rush fever reigned.  The herring 
disappeared in 1968, but the festival 
still bears its name.

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