This year, Iceland was the visiting country at the Frankfurt book fair, the largest show of all things book and beautiful. What better excuse for us to get our journalistic skills on and pay a personal visit to the island that is in the corner of Europe’s eye.
The first shock hit us right at the airport – no, we are not travelling to Ibiza. The German outfits, exposed to Icelandic summer at the end of August – an insult to every Icelandic citizen, even more so to the fashionable women of Iceland. Men and women in unisex matching outfits, boots that could have been nicked from a mountain climber's base camp. Lesson number one: people in Iceland, unlike in Germany, have two sexes, which tend to dress differently from each other, especially when it comes to GOING OUT. Ladies, high heels are a must!
Iceland is home to 300,000 people and sports quite a high celebrity density – every position in the social network has to be filled after all. Publishers, dentists, eco-activists, designers, one-woman-shows, fish exporters, theatre managers… we met them all, wrote about many and if all else failed, we at least took a photo of them.
One of the most famous and controversial inhabitants of Iceland died in 2005 – chess genius BOBBY FISHER. We paid him our respects.
Iceland is not only the land of ponies – there are also sheep and books. Seriously, the average Iceland citizen's relationship with nature is far less romantic than that of the sun-drenched continental European. Nature is beautiful – best observed from the safe distance your car. Or sitting inside looking out, in a cosy cottage with a good BOOK on your lap. The great motifs that not only accompany our introduction but outshine it are by Ragnar Axelsson and taken from his book 'Andlit Nordursins', published by Mál og menning Publishers.
Some of the things that made their way to us, floating on the winds that roll down from the high north are a tad less exotic – trolls, stinky shark, whale meat with puffin, gnomes, fairies, grass huts, hot pots, continental drifts, geysers…
A last word of advice for all our liquor loving friends: booze is rather expensive on the island, but even the smallest of hamlets has an official liquor-store: plus: the duty-free shop in Iceland is also open to arriving passengers and you stock up pretty liberally – six bottles of red wine per person. That ought to cover a basic supply.