Friends of Iceland: "The landscape is not like anything on the planet you have ever seen"
“Íslandsvinur” is a term you will be familiar with if you’re Icelandic. It means “friend of Iceland” and basically applies to anyone who visits Iceland more than once.
New Yorker Krissie Garland works for a global retail brand and currently lives in Shanghai, China. Her hobbies include dancing, watching action movies, and collecting pretty much anything. Her first trip to Iceland was in the summer of 2014, she quickly came back for a second trip and now she is planning her third.
What made you want to come to Iceland?
“I had wanted to go for some time so when my friend Oliver Luckett decided to hold his 40th birthday celebration in Reykjavik I jumped at the chance. He extended the invitation to his motley crew of friends, miscreants, artists, business associates and interesting characters so what ensued was, as you can imagine, quite a celebration.”
What was your first impression when you came here?
“I’ll tell you a short story that kind of encompasses my general impression of Iceland. I was onstage dancing at Oliver’s party and I noticed a group of girls staring at me. Now, as American I immediately put my defenses up and prepared for a fight. If I was back in New York and saw some females staring at me on the dance floor I would of course assume that something was about to go down. So when the girls walked over I had a bit of a bitch face. Then one of them gave me a big smile and said, ”I just wanted to tell you that we all love your outfit, you look great!” I didn’t even know what to say. I mean, these kinds of things do NOT happen in the US. A genuine expression of positivity and no hidden agenda, what a concept! I really realised in that moment that this place breeds a special type of person. I knew this was a place that was going to be close to my heart forever. I wanted to be like these girls.
Also in Iceland there doesn’t seem to be any ageism. I was having many late nights with people of all ages. I was at bars where groups of friends included grown ass men of 50+ and young guys under 21. It seems like a place where people are just more accepting. And even though we are currently experiencing a ridiculous moment in US politics I don’t really think that America would be excited to have a mayor in a major city that was an actor/comedian and a leader of the country’s first punk movement. But maybe I’m wrong there, I mean, we did have a body building action superhero so I guess anything is possible.”
Like visiting another universe
You came back six months later for New Year’s Eve. How was that?
“I only stayed for 5 days again but managed to get a New Year’s kiss from a total babe, spent a romantic evening in a snow covered summer house, hung out with great friends, ate some surprisingly not disgusting fermented fish-thing at Einar Örn's house and had a couple of soaks in the bath house. The only bummer was that I didn't get to see the illusive northern lights. So I guess I'll have to save that for next time.”
What is it about Iceland that makes you want to come back? Explain the attraction.
“I mean, it’s basically like you are visiting another universe. The landscape is not like anything on the planet you have ever seen. The people are not like any species you have ever interacted with. You are in constant awe of the beauty coming from all sides, in all types of mediums. I can say on the negative side that maybe the weather isn’t exactly that magical but I would suffer through an entire cold, dark snowy winter Iceland just to see the Northern Lights. Now that is magic.”
When is your next trip to Iceland?
“Not soon enough but I’m aiming for this July, fingers crossed!”
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