Perspectives on Iceland Part 3 – three anecdotes

Icelandic flag

This is my third article on Iceland – maybe you have already enjoyed Part 1 and Part 2, if not, do it now! Now, as I said before, I will not give you your usual reports on Iceland – I am not a travel guide after all. I am trying to entertain you (and myself pretty much!) with stories I heard, unknown facts that I have detected. Dear reader, please join me for three anecdotes on olfactory, intestinal and mystic matters!

1) The first thing that sprung to my mind today when I opened my journal (yes, dear reader! I am actually well prepared for your entertainment! Not just blogaddyblog, I am putting an effort into this!!!) today, was the SMELL I encountered in Iceland. Unreal! I am always carrying a small note-book (and I am not talking laptop here, I am talking about a little real paper book for taking notes) with me to … uhm … take notes, obviously, and after returning from Iceland, I put a whole travel report into my journal. A travel report along with some plants that I picked up in Iceland. No trees, of course, just some grass-and-flower-like plants which I also put into my journal. When I opened it today, my mind was sent straight back to Iceland!

The first time after my vacation, when I opened the plastic bag with the flowers along with the photos that I had just picked up from the store, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. You know, when you miss something or someone it happens sometimes that your minds recalls the scent, too. So I thought it was this, but it wasn’t. The plants have actually absorbed the smell (I cannot call it ‘scent’ in this case) of sulphur! I mean, everybody knows that Iceland has this sulphur mud bubbling thing going on, but you cannot imagine what it really smells like. I first encountered it when we visited Hveravellir and it is EVERYWHERE! You come to your accommodation after a long day, you have the feeling you stink and you go and take a shower. You hop in joyfully and then you start gagging! The water in the shower smells of sulphur, too! It’s supposed to be good for your hair and skin and all, but baaaaahhh! Brushing your teeth with the smelly water is even worse. By the way, this was the point where I stopped having eggs for breakfast! Unfortunately, there is not scent app in WordPress, so a photo of the smelly things has to be it for now! The good thing is though, that your olfactory sense gets used to scents pretty fast and after a while and because everybody smells the same, you don’t notice it anymore. I did though when I opened my suitcase to unpack back in Germany. Hm… I was surely an olfactory threat to people on the way home!


This is one of the little buggers at Hveravellir that steams and smells!

2) Some of you might also have experienced the phenomenon of constipation when too far away from your home toilet. It happens to the best of us! Now, in Iceland, one of our hostels was called ‘Bakkaflöt’. I have no idea whether it actually means anything, but to German ears it sounds funny and is surely connoted to the condition of gastrointestinal disease.  So, when we left ‘Bakkaflöt’, Mr. W., who was on the bus with us (and who also bought elf shoes with little bells on top, but that’s a different story), said ‘If I was to invent a purgative, I would totally call it >Bakkaflöt<.’ There were a few moments of silence, until my Mum said ‘And at this point, I would totally take it!’ Guess you had to be there, but it still cracks me up!



3) I didn’t get to talk to too many Icelandic people (see Part 1 again, there aren’t too many outside Reykjavik), but we did have an Icelandic bus driver called Magnús. He was fantastic, I mean he drove us safely through the worst conditions weather-wise and landscape-wise and I think at this point, all bus drivers in the world should get an applause. Clap!!! Done? Ok, back to Magnús. Magnús did not speak any German which kind of limited his options to talk to most people on the bus. And he seemed to be a pretty introverted person – just not to me! Ok, we shared the bad habit of smoking, which brings people together. He chatted to me all the time and I was glad he did (cultural studies, you see) and then he got the photos of his kids out, and his nephews and nieces… and dog… and car… you get the picture. But I stayed patient, following my mission. I smelled the opportunity to get some information about customs and pagan background. So one day I asked him what the Icelandic name for ‘Midsummer’ was. I mean, I got all excited because I was sure the name itself would reveal some myths and legends! First he did not understand what I was after so I explained again about Midsummer and the whole thing and then asked him again ‘Don’t you have an expression for Midsummer?’ He looked at me for a while, thinking, contemplating, and digging deep into his pagan ancestors’ roots. Then he smiled, you know, the smile of perception! And he said ‘Yes, we do! We call it…’ I leaned over to be closer to the cultural revelation and he said ‘…21st of June!’


This is Magnús with an ancient pagan ritual device… uhm… ah no. It’s actually a wheel cap!


1) My options of learning Icelandic through a potential Icelandic boyfriend (see Part 1) are shrinking. If I do get myself an Icelandic boyfriend, I should make sure that he does not come from a sulphur area. As attractive as this Viking may be, the smell would totally ruin it. Great, this limits my choice even more! I mean, calculate: about 320,000 inhabitants in the country, how many are male and between 30 and 40, not mentally disturbed AND not from one of the sulphur places…. pffffffff…

2) I should open a consulting agency for hotels in Iceland.

3) Maybe it’s time to snap out of my fascination for myths and legends. It seems to be a tourist trap! And I have to find Magnús, because we actually bought silver rings together. This is an entirely different story so watch out for more perspectives on Iceland! If anybody runs into the guy in Iceland, tell him I said hi!

Yours truly, madly, deeply!


All photos used in this blog are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use them if you like, but be decent and link to this site!


4 thoughts on “Perspectives on Iceland Part 3 – three anecdotes

  1. Pingback: Perspectives on Iceland Part 1 – Language and Music | The German Perspective

  2. Pingback: Perspectives on Iceland Part 2 – photos | The German Perspective

  3. Pingback: Perspectives on Hamburg (and Sólstafir) | The German Perspective

  4. Pingback: The Eurovision Song Contest – hashtag dingdong!!! | The German Perspective

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