Wednesday, November 28, 2007


On Monday, the North part of Langjökull glacier witnessed over a dozen of earthquakes with the biggest one reaching 4.4 on the Richter scale (see picture on the right).

Iceland being on the top of the Mid-Atlantic ridge makes it prone to have these earthquakes. If you check the Icelandic website, you can see that about a dozen or more quakes and tremors are recorded on a daily basis. The location of the quakes is usually following the path taken by the ridge underneath the island as you can see below marked in blue.

The most dramatic place to see the ridge is the National Park of Þingvellir. This park is less than 1 hour drive from Reykjavík and is a place charged with history. One of the oldest parlement in the world, the Alþing, was taking place there around 930 AD. More about the rift in Þingvellir here.

On March 6th, 2006 an earthquake of magnitude 4.6 shook Reykjavík. It happened in the afternoon. I was at work and people came to see me to ask me if I felt the quake. I had to admit that I did not feel anything.

I'm out to the countryside with A for the weekend, just above Selfoss, on the ridge so maybe this time I will feel something. Anyhow, I did learn the golden rule in case of earthquake:

Weather outside: Mostly cloudy, 2°C

Monday, November 26, 2007


Let's begin this week with a touch humour. When people think of Iceland, they think blonde, tall, and slim/fit women... Well I'm sorry to tell you that it is not the case. Icelandic women are far from being all blonde.

And here is the touch of humour:

Weather outside: Rain, 9°C

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Það er kalt úti!!!... Indeed it's cold outside. -5°C was saying the car computer this morning. Mínus fimm stig! Speaking about minus, there is an Icelandic "hard" rock band called Mínus. Here is a video of one of their song called "the long face".

Iceland had, until last year, a show similar to Jackass. It was first named 70 minútur and then was changed to Strákarnir. The guys from the show did a song called "dirty bastard" with a lot of shots similar to the video of "the long face" from Mínus. You can also find shots from a video with Madonna/Britney, a video with P.Diddy, etc... Here is the video:

Weather outside: clear, -5°C

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Condom fish...

It has started for me!... Over the next few weeks, I will go to several jólahlaðborð, christmas buffets. All companies and other associations are organizing one of these buffets.

We started our "eating marathon" on Saturday evening. We were invited to Domo by A's company. We did not get a proper jólahlaðborð but got served a lot of different dishes directly to our table instead of having to pick everything from a buffet.

The evening meal began with a mix of sushi as appetizers, then for starter we got two plates: one with kangaroo and the other one with scallops and squids.

It's funny to learn a new language because you try to find out how some words are made up. In the case of squid, the Icelandic word for it is smokkfiskur. I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to guess that fiskur stands for fish. Smokk comes from smokkur, which in Icelandic means condom. So a squid is a condom fish in Iceland and when you think of a squid or of its shape who do see why Icelanders would have decided to name squids smokkfiskar.

Back to our dinner, the main course was served on three plates as we had cod, lamb and beef. The dessert was a tiny warm chocolate cake with a hint of ginger served with a scoop of ice-cream... Nice!

I have the rest of the week to burn up the calories in the gym before the next jólahlaðborð, which is this week-end. It is organized by Alliance Française. We like dinners organized by Alliance Française: the food is prepared by François Fons, a French chef who has been living in Iceland for years and does a "mean" lambalæri (leg of lamb).

I picked the photo from his website. There are classic dishes that you would always find on a jólahlaðborð:
  • Hamborgarhryggur - salted and lightly smoked pork rack.
  • Hangikjöt - smoked lamb.
You could also find game meat but usually you would go to another type of dinner for that: villibráðarveisla.

Bon appétit!

Weather outside: clear, 2°C

Friday, November 16, 2007

La vie en rose...

It seems that this post is going to be about cinema again!

On Monday, I received an e-mail from Alliance Française. They had a limited amount of invitations for the premiere of La vie en rose, a film depicting the life of french singer Edith Piaf.

It is rare to have something else than american blockbusters on screen in Iceland. Luckily, there is græna ljósið, a foreign movie distributor. When you go to cinema in Iceland, you have to know that there will be break in the middle. Is it to go to the bathroom? Is it to refill on popcorn or soda? Anyway, whatever it is for, it is still a pain in the rear end... But now when you go to see a foreign film, it is rare to have a break.

The event was preceded by a little concert with actress/singer Jóhanna Vigdís who sang few classics of the French repertoire. I came to realise that she had no Icelandic accent when interpreting these French songs, the same way Céline Dion (or other French-Canadian singers) does not have the thick French-Canadian accent when she sings in French. I'm wondering if it works the other way around. If I sing in Icelandic, do I lose my French accent?

Back to our film. I must admit I'm a bit disappointed. The actress, Marion Cotillard, gives a superb performance but the jumps back and forth in time were too many and ruined a little bit the film.

Today is November 16th, it is "Dagur Íslenskrar Tungu", day of the Icelandic language. Colleagues at work have decided to only speak Icelandic with me today!

Weather outside: rain, 8°C

Monday, November 12, 2007

And the Oscar goes to...

Last night was the EDDA night. The EDDA are the Icelandic "Oscars". This year "Grand Prix" went to Ragnar Bragarson's film Foreldrar (parents). This film is in fact the second chapter of a cinematographic diptych which started with the film Börn (children). Last year's big winner was Mýrin: the screen adaptation of Arnaldur Indriðason best-seller thriller Jar City. Mýrin should be reprensenting Iceland at this year's Oscar in the Best Foreign-Language Film category.

Here is a little (and surely non-exhaustive) list of Icelandic films you may consider renting:

Weather outside: rainshower, 6°C

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Good news for us, foreigners, living in Iceland... It has been announced that Iceland will soon join the European Food Safety Authority (ESFA). Well, what does it mean for me? It means I will now be able to bring meat from France.

No more I will be smuggling saucisson (french salami but way better!) into the country. Custom officials at Keflavík airport have confiscated around 5 tons of meat products so far this year of which 1.7 tons were salami!

I did already bring some meat product from Iceland to France. A couple of years ago, I got some hangikjöt (smoked lamb) in my Christmas hamper and I decided to bring it to France. It was an easy process. You go to the Ministry of Agriculture (Landbúnaðarráðuneyti, which is situated behind the National Theater of Iceland) and there you pay to get a sticker stipulating that the meat is from Iceland and is free of any diseases. That's it!

Anyway, the "traveling" hangikjöt was cooked and prepared in France where it did not received the favorable reception from the french palates... But my brother's dog, Sky, loved it and gave it the 2 "paws" up!

Weather outside: mostly cloudy, 7°C

Friday, November 2, 2007

Icelandic stereotype...

I was able to find a commercial that ran in Ireland a few years back. It was a bit of a shock to hear Icelandic on the Channel 4.

Just to keep the record straight:
  • I do not remember seeing Tennent's beer in any of the ATVRs, the state owned off-licences, only places where you can buy alcohol.
  • Wind-dried puffins recipe has yet to be invented. The only thing "wind-dried" so far is the harðfiskur. That said, it would not be surprising to hear that dried puffins does exist in Vestmannaeyar where most of the puffin hunting takes place.
  • "6 women to 1 man"... This really needs to be proven!!!
  • Bar-frikki does not exist. There is something call the Ice Bar in the city centre. It is part of Restaurant Reykjavík, formerly known as Kaffi Reykjavík.
  • Hreindýra bollur, reindeer balls, are reindeer meat balls and has nothing to do with genitalia.
  • And finally, a pint costs 600isk (€7/$10) in a bar... not 2000isk!!!

Weather outside: mist, 7°C

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hunting season...

One of the most anticipated event of the year for Icelanders has started: the rjúpa hunting season.

The rjúpa, or arctic grouse, is part of the traditional dishes that will be served over Christmas. As you can see from the picture, the white winter plumage make it difficult to spot during the winter. Some hunters will spend hours and will come back empty handed. Others, with pointing dogs, maybe more fortunate.

With most of the employees gone hunting, the building is strangely quiet. Too quiet to be working...

And a little game: find the rjúpa (summer plumage)

Weather outside: mostly cloudy, 2°C