A few weeks ago I went on an óvissuferð (secret trip) at work, which means this: everyone you work with piles on a bus together that is well stocked with beer. The bus driver heads off into the wilds of the countryside, and inside the bus everyone gets silly drinking beer and taking pictures at angles that makes everyone appear have an enormous forehead. There are occasional pauses for team building activities that involve hula hoops, hole-punches, and holding hands with Snædís from Marketing while you close your eyes and she leads you around a basketball court. Eventually, there might be line-dancing, lots of food, and prizes for awful costumes. As the evening wears on and the beer stock dwindles, some guy will inevitably end up wearing the bunny ears that the receptionists brought for themselves, and the whole bus will stop a few times while the guys all get off and pee into the lava in a line on the side of the road.
Another thing that you must be prepared for, which always happens on a group outing here that's longer than an hour or two, is singing. This is a nation of choristers and musicians, and even if you aren't, you'll be singing along anyway. On this trip we even were given sheets with lyrics of the planned tunes. Someone had brought a guitar, and as we barreled along the road we went through the whole repertoire, which included the songs we'd performed for the company song contest (more here if you missed it) back in March. We ran through the programme, then the front of the bus started in on other Icelandic favorites, most of which I am far from knowing, although tunes like Ego's "fjöllin hafa vakað" are familiar enough by now. With a little work on Bubbi's lyrics page I'll be part of the singing soon enough. I already had some practice at the last group outing I was on in March, and I expect there will be more next month when I'll be on a bus from Bologna to Rome with a full Icelandic choir.
Although Icelanders generally don't like to be compared to Denmark, all this singing together does remind me of an evening some weeks ago when I was visiting a friend of mine who works in a hotel bar downtown. It was a slow evening so we were talking about the challenges being immigrants here when a troupe of elderly Danish gentlemen walked in. They ordered a few jolly rounds of Tubourg (why bother drinking Danish beer here if you're FROM Denmark?) and then after the second they all started singing gruffly. My friend glanced at them and said, "now you know for SURE they're Danish. The Danes that stay here are always singing like this when they're drunk"
I guess maybe we're not all that different after all.