22 June 2006

Icelanders abroad

I went on my trip last week with 36 Icelanders, so I got a good experience of group travel and Icelanders abroad in the summer. For the most part it was like anyone else- everyone went crazy eating out, buying things, and forgot about sunblock, so on Wednesday night in the airport, it was a sunburned, slightly bedraggled planeful of people, expandable suitcases at full capacity, carrying shopping bags that clanked from the wine bottles inside.

We got mistaken for Finns in one place, since to the untrained ear the rhythm of Icelandic sounds Finnish (who knew?), but for the most part we were just a sprinkling among the millions of other tourists that barrage Rome in the summertime. The group travel was great for my Icelandic though, since I shared a room with someone that was not interested in speaking English. Also, all instructions about meeting times, departure times, and concerts was entirely in Icelandic. Who knew that the best way to improve my Icelandic was a week in Italy?

The only real mystery was the ice cream. These people could NOT get enough ice cream. When we were driving to and from Rome, every stop at a gas station was a chance for ice cream. Even when we were told to eat NO ICE CREAM since we had to get right back on the bus, sure enough, there they were all in a line, Icelanders slurping on popsicles. On our second to last day in Florence, we were all waiting fretfully for one last person before we could get back to the bus on a very tight schedule. He finally arrived, bearing an enormous double-decker cone trimmed with waffle cookies. It was dripping all over his hands and the ground, and as we headed back to the bus on the long hot walk along the river, he left a Hansel-and-Gretel-style ice cream trail the whole way back.

Part of it is certainly the delectable flavors of Italian gelato, part of it is the despicable heat of Italian summer, and part of it is that I'm told Europeans love their ices in the summer. And the last part? I think it's because in Icelandic, the name of the country is Ísland. And the stuff you buy dipped in chocolate and on a waffle cone? That's called "ís". So, as J pointed out last year, we're all living in ice-cream-land, and when abroad, I guess people have to maintain the connection with The Land by eating tons of ice cream. I can get behind that idea.

Ship sighting: Two days ago I went for a walk down by the harbor, and I saw a large sailboat called Song of the Whale. It's leaving today, so I did a little Googling, and it turns out to be a non-invasive marine research vessel dedicated to whales and porpoises and the like. In typical ironic fashion, it was docked right across the way from the old whaling boats.


SB said...

This is a comment to both E n J about the word/name of the country Ice... or EEs...land
As J mentioned in his blog, klaki and is are not quite the same thing. Although an expression an Icelander like me, living abroad, could be: Hvað er að frétta af Klakanum?
Klakinn in this instance is a reference to Iceland=Klakinn
A popsicle is klaki
An Ice cream is ís

Interesting play on words :D

Sigvaldi said...

Actually, the name Ísland has not got anything to do with ice according to some scholars (Iceland had much less ice when it was settled than it has now), some suggest that the name was derived frome the rune "Íss"

ECS said...

I'm glad my readers take me so seriously, but did you REALLY think I believed Iceland was named after a dessert? :-)