Weekly Report 27.08 – 02.09

It’s been more than 10 days since we saw magma flowing from the crater in Meradalir. It’s likely safe to make the first summaries. Geologists’ estimates were correct, it was a relatively small eruption, which fortunately did not threaten the nearest roads and the nearby energy infrastructure. If only the eruption had lasted a few months longer, it would be a perfect “touristic eruption”. Some people feel disappointed – the eruption was too short. On the other hand, the volcano is not an amusement park. Having high expectations simply leads to disappointment. As a consolation, although local residents may have a different opinion, it seems that further eruptions are only a matter of (very short) time

Close to 6,500 is the record number of visitors to the Meradalir eruption within one day. In total, almost half a million people visited one of the last 2 eruptions in Iceland. To put it in perspective in 2019, half a million was the total number of tourists who visited Iceland. Largely due to eruptions, this year’s number of tourists in Iceland will likely exceed 1.7 million, which is 300 thousand more than forecasted. 

One group, in particular, welcomed the end of the eruption and the potential decrease in the number of tourists. It’s the search and rescue crews who had been monitoring the Meradalir volcanic area tirelessly and had to intervene countless times to help injured or exhausted tourists. The rescuers’ working conditions are not easy, and the coming winter would make their tasks even more difficult. 

What are your thoughts/experiences with the last eruption in Iceland? Did you manage to get to the site and take a photo with the volcano in the background, or are you waiting for the next eruption?  

Last Sunday tourists in Hornvík (in the extreme north of the Westfjords) alarmed local police after allegedly spotting a polar bear. The police called the coast guard, who flew over the area in a helicopter but could not track the animal. The most likely scenario is that the tourists mistook the polar bear for a white seal which was spotted in this area recently. That must be the priciest oversight of the summer. 

There was another story involving a large bear this week. A giant stuffed panda called Lars was kidnapped from a dart bar, Bullseye over the weekend. In search of help, the bar manager turned to one of his frequent guests – a national dart player who also happens to be a police officer. Thanks to the engagement of the policeman Lars found his way to his home the next morning.     

Unwelcomed seagulls. Have ever you walked around Tjörnin, the famous pond in Reykjavik? Locals call it The Biggest Bread Soup in the World because many families are feeding bread to the birds. Over the years, free bread attracted more and more seagulls, to the point their number has a harmful effect on other wildlife in the city centre. City representatives are considering taking measures to scare the seagulls away. That said it won’t be an easy task considering how stubborn these birds can be.

Creative hunger. One regular guest of Reykjavik’s restaurant, Bombay moved to Akureyri, which lies almost 400 kilometres away. After a few weeks, the man missed the taste of his favourite cuisine, but travelling back to Reykjavik was not an option. During a phone conversation with the restaurant’s manager, he joked that it would be nice to send the food by air. To his astonishment, the manager took his words seriously and brought the package to the airport. The most stunning fact is that the local delivery in Reykjavik in some cases can be more expensive than shipping the food to a distant city, like in the case of Akureyri.  

Iceland’s biggest international film festival (RIFF) begins on September 29. The most characteristic feature of the festival is the swimming pool screenings in which you watch movies standing up to your neck in the water. RIFF is also one of the most diverse film festivals in the world with a lot of accompanying cultural events. The screenings will take place in Reykjavik until October 9. 

The word or rather a sentence for today is “Takk fyrir okkur” – which doesn’t have an ideal translation to English but the nearest would probably be “Thanks for having us”. By the way, we are much obliged to all people who have voiced their concern about our three-week break. We apologize for the unannounced absence and, at the same time, invite you next week for another dose of news from Iceland.