Áslaug Ellen G Yngvadóttir
Questions You Get as a Guide in Iceland
I have been working as a guide in Iceland for a few years now. During this time I have gotten a lot of questions, and of course some questions are more interesting than others. Here I will go through a few questions, off the top of my head and also from asking a few other guides, that people are usually interested in knowing.
Do you go to the beach?
Yes. We have a geothermal heated beach in Nauthólsvík with imported lighter sand – what a dream right? During good weather days, a lot of people go there to enjoy the sun, and enjoy the warm(er) water. There is also a valley ball net there and a 2 hot tubs. During winter and summer, some Icelanders go swimming in the sea, it’s supposed to be very good for ones health. However, most Icelanders remain more loyal to their local swimming pools. Since it’s warm, cozy and relatively cheap. It’s the sort of thing to do if you don’t know what to do, or if you’re not the type of person to go to the gym, then going swimming is a solid and (cheaper) healthy alternative.
Where was Game of Thrones filmed?
Most of the shots from North of the Wall was filmed at the stunning glacier Svínafellsjökull in Skaftafell National Park. Then there were several locations around the island, such as Þingvellir (which you are very likely to visit on your trip to Iceland) and Þórufoss (google it for location, it’s very nearby Reykjavík!)
Is Icelandic similar to other Scandinavian languages?
Yes it certainly is. Icelandic is old norse, so our language is very related to Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Faroese. We can mostly understand all these languages in writing, but our understanding when actually listening to people speak the language is more difficult. Danish people have a very strange accent for example, so we definitely do struggle, even though we had to learn Danish in elementary school.
What animals do you have here?
We have very few wild animals, if you don’t count the birds in the sky and the fishes & whales in the sea. In fact, there is one native wild animal, the Arctic Fox, that drifted to our island on an ice-berg some years back. The Arctic Fox is super cute, and sometimes you can catch a glimpse of them when roadtripping or hiking in Iceland. Then we have the mink (which accidentally got into Icelandic nature and is not considered to be very welcome), Mice (they came with ships) and Reindeer (the Danish king imported them in the 17th Century for his pleasure of hunting them, they now live in the East fjords and people buy permission to hunt them). Sometimes we get polar bears from Greenland, but unfortunately they usually end up dead in a few days.
Do you have an army?
No, but we have a coast guard. It’s hard to see the point in having an army when we barely have any people. We are however one of the founding members of NATO.
How often do you have volcanic eruptions?
Frequently. Grímsvötn erupts roughly every 3- 4 years. Hekla erupts roughly every 10 years. Katla erupts roughly every 80 years. Then there are even more that go off on and off.
How long does it take you to drive the circle around the island?
The circle on route one is roughly 1350 km, this is without the West Fjords. So if you drive non stop at 90 km/hr then it should take you about 15 hours. Not too bad ey? However I in no way recommend you to do it in one day, as you would miss so much!
When can you drive, and when are you allowed to buy alcohol?
You can drive when you are 17. You can drink and sell alcohol when you are 18, but you cannot buy it until you are 20 years old.
Aren’t jeans the best type of pants to wear when outdoors?
No. Not at all. Sometimes I also get this question from my group of Icelandic friends, but I cannot stress this enough, jeans are not good. Especially for Icelandic weather. It’s rainy, it’s windy.. It’s weather that just can’t make up its mind – and that sort of indecisive weather really doesn’t mesh with jeans. When jeans get wet, they stay wet for a long time and they lose their insulation, making you wet and miserable. You know what they say – cotton kills.
Do you like living here?
This is a question that most guides ask differently. My guess is that most guides who live here like living here. For me the answer is that I do like living here, although of course it happens that I don’t. But the mountains and the rivers and the oceans can be very giving in Iceland, you can suddenly look up and realise that where you are standing is amazingly beautiful. This makes it easy for me to forgive Iceland for it’s sometimes bad weather and small population, and the fact that we’re an island in the middle of nowhere. Once you come here, you’ll understand 🙂