This blog will be dedicated to the beautiful passions of life: Food, Film, Football (Barça), Philosophy, Literature, Art and Humanity.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006



Iceland is the second largest island in Europe, first inhabited by Norwegians, escaping the Norwegian king. The first man to settle was Ingólfur Arnarson in 970.

The story goes that Iceland discovered America (Leifur Eriksson), but were clever enough to keep quiet about it.

Iceland was ruled by Denmark from 1387 independence in 1918, where all foreign relations were made by the Danes and in 1944 Iceland became a republic.

Iceland is a nation extremely proud of itself and as you can imagine life was not easy there. I always have a feeling of total desolation, it is like being stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean. The weather can change quicker than your eyes blink and I remember where one day it was so windy one could not walk straight, the next day it had a beautiful Northern sun and the next day it was raining all day.

It must be the only country in Europe where you have a total sense of nature being more powerful than any human being or any civilization. You just do not push nature.

Many summers were spent on the island Flatey in Brei∂arfjör∂ur, where my mother had made friends with the local farmer. There were two farmers on the island. It was a thriving community until in the last part of the last century, there was still a school there, but slowly only the two farmers are left. For many years my mother's friend was on her own with her sheep, cows and dog. As often the two farmers did not communicate. A friend recalls one moment staying in the "Doctor's House" (where the other farmer lived) and looking out of the window, there was a snowstorm and the only light you would see was a glint from a window in the not too far distance, but you would not talk to them.

Iceland has always been dependent on fish and had Marshall help well into the seventies, when the last Codwar was won against Britain and slowly the economy started to thrive. (Check post on the Codwar, Coldwar, February and March 2006).

Iceland became part of Nato and I remember my great grandmother recalling the fear of the Russians arriving, so the Americans came and are still there. During the cold war Iceland played a big strategic part, both due to its position but also had important events like the World Championship in Chess, where for the first time a Russian (Spassky) and an American (Fischer) played for the glory of the Championship.

I still remember the excitement of the Chess master coming to town (not the one in 1972, but the one in the eighties).


As winter is long and very little to do, reading has always played a big part in social life and Iceland proudly boasts that their habitants buy the most books per person.

The landscape has a huge impact on the person, where you can see the burning passion, inner turmoil through the vast empty landscape, the volcanoes going through their blood, the changes of light and dark, but also it is a place where people believe in themselves. There was one a worldwide research where people in all countries were asked who they did believe in and most people stated, God, the state (etc) while the Icelandic majority said: MYSELF.

Iceland also had the first female president in the world. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, or Vigga vinkona (Vigga the friend). She was a theatre director and I remember going to the swimming pool where she would be swimming next to you. When you meet someone Icelandic the question is always: who's folks are you of. You always know someone they know.

Food used to be very bland, maximum were a bit of salt and pepper on the boiled fish. Slowly with people having travelled all over the world, they are starting to use their fresh ingredients to produce some very good dishes. Some of my favourite chefs (personal chefs) are from Iceland. My father (from Barcelona) remember arriving to Iceland in the seventies, he was working in a small town outside Reykjavík and people would gather to look at the foreigner.

Now Iceland has a thriving culture, both at night, but they have always had a decent coffeehouse culture, where it is common to meet over a cup of coffee somewhere in one of the many cafés. There are lots of concerts, it is not unusual to go to the theatre and during weekends, the bars and clubs are packed and the atmosphere is quite amazing or just plainly Wild.

There are a lot of good culture coming out of Icleand. Some very good bands, good writers and film makers.

I recommend following:

Sigur Rós
Sigrí∂ur Nielsdóttir

Sigur∂ur Gu∂mundsson
Nína Tryggvadóttir
Jón Óskar
Kjartan Gu∂mundsson

Dagur Kári - Nói Albinói
Fri∂rik Thór Fri∂riksson - Cold Fever, Angels of the Universe and Children of the Nature, as well as the documentary Cowboys of the North (about a yearly cowboy festival in the north of the country)
Baltasar Kormákur (catalan-icelandic) - The Sea & 101 Reykjavík

Thorbergur Thordarsson
Bragi Olafsson
Gyrdur Eliasson
Halldór Laxness

There are many more, but I don't really follow it all up.

This is an island, where I spent many of my summers, Flatey on Breidarfjördur



Anonymous Joan CG said...

Oh, que cansat estic de la meva
covarda, vella, tan salvatge terra,
i com m'agradaria d'allunyar-me'n,
nord enllà,
on diuen que la gent és neta
i noble, culta, rica, lliure,
desvetllada i feliç!
Aleshores, a la congregació, els germans dirien
desaprovant: "Com l'ocell que deixa el niu,
així l'home que se'n va del seu indret",
mentre jo, ja ben lluny, em riuria
de la llei i de l'antiga saviesa
d'aquest meu àrid poble.
Però no he de seguir mai el meu somni
i em quedaré aquí fins a la mort.
Car sóc també molt covard i salvatge
i estimo a més amb un
desesperat dolor
aquesta meva pobra,
bruta, trista, dissortada pàtria.
Sempre que veig fotografies de pobles del nord, tan llunyans, recordo aquest vers d'Espriu.

Hope you like it.

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan CG said...

7:14 PM  
Blogger Yrsa Roca Fannberg said...

Grácies per el poema. Sona bé allá al Nord, pero no crec que es aixi. Yes I like it.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fatleg og litiz (+ o -) i Flatey!

8:32 PM  

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