Yule lads

You know that Christmas is right around the corner when the Icelandic Yule lads start showing up at Dimmuborgir. This weekend three of them were out greeting the tourists visiting Dimmuborgir, which is said to be their home. I’m still getting used to the Icelandic Christmas traditions and the Yule lads are one of those things that is completely new to me. In a few days all Icelandic kids will put their shoes in the windows before bed and waking up to find gifts in the shoes that a Yule lad has left for them during the night. Each night there is a different Yule lad coming to visit the houses and if the kids have been naughty the might find coal or a potato in the shoe instead of a gift.

The Yule Lad Giljagaur (Gully Gawk)

The Yule Lad Giljagaur (Gully Gawk) is the second one to “come to town” and will arrive on the 13th and he will hide in gullies to try to sneak into the cowshed to steal milk.

The Yule lad Gluggagægir (Window-Peep) comes on the 21th to peep through windows in search of something to steal.

The Yule lad Gluggagægir (Window-Peep) comes on the 21th to peep through windows in search of something to steal. This lad try to steal our car 😉 Good thing the keys weren’t in the car or he might have succeeded 🙂

On the 12th the first Yule lad makes his way to town and the first one to arrive is Stekkjarstaur (Sheep-Cote Clod). Unlike our Santa Clause the Icelandic Yule lads aren’t nice, but still they leave you gift so I’m not sure how that goes together to be honest 😉 But I still think it’s very nice that Iceland has kept this very old tradition, even if the gift part is fairly new I think. I guess the whole thing with the Yule lads were just to get children to behave during Christmas, if they didn’t the Yule lads would come down and scare them and steal things, and if the children had been very bad the Yule lads mother Grýla would eat them. It’s kind of a funny tale and it’s a tradition I will make my own.

The Yule lad Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) is the last one to "come to town" and will come for a visit on the 24th to try to steal our candles.

The Yule lad Kertasníkir (Candle-Stealer) is the last one to “come to town” and will come for a visit on the 24th to try to steal our candles. Here he’s warming by a nice fire.

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World’s Must See Churches

The church “Hallgrímskirkja” in Reykjavík is on the Buzz Feed Travels list of “The 11 Unusual Churches You Have to See Before You go to Heaven”.

Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja is a very special church and I quite like it, except for the interior. On the inside the church is much to plain for my taste. I love old churches with the coloured glass windows and all that. Even if I’m not a religious person I still have a thing for churches. They are often very beautiful and special buildings, and like in Reykjavík it’s a “monument” for the city. It’s like a navigation point in the city 😉 The church is tallest building in Reykjavík. It’s suppose to resemble flowing lava from a volcano. One of my favourite things about Hallgrímskirkja is the fact that you can go up in the tower and from there you have an amazing panorama view over the city.

On the “World’s Must See Churches” list were many very special and beautiful churches, some of them I would love to go see. For example the number 9 on the list “Church of St. Jean (12th Century) — Aubeterre sur Dronne, France”. That one looks like something very special and I hope I will get to see it some day.

Here you can find the whole list of World’s Must See Churches.

Old houses

Since I have a great interest in architecture I find it quite interesting, that just 100 years ago half the population here in Iceland were still living in turf houses. To me this feels very old fashion, but it all makes sense in a way. Since there isn’t much wood here it’s of course been hard for Icelanders to find a different way of building. And also the turf houses were working, so why change?

Old turf houses at Baugasel

Old turf houses at Baugasel

In the 1960:s there were almost no one living in turf houses any more and many of these old houses disappeared. Icelanders had by then realized how old fashion this was, and most people wanted to live more comfortably. But it’s a huge shame that there are so few of these houses left, since they hold so much history and not just for Icelanders but for all of us.

The turf houses at Laufás are really nice and very interesting for me, so I didn't mind going here a few times during the summer.

The turf houses at Laufás are really nice and very interesting to me

Luckily there are a few of the old turf houses that has been preserved and some of them are now being used as museums. I personally love these houses, they are so smartly built and the often look really cool 🙂 So I’m very happy that there are still some left, and that there are some very close to where we live. My favourite ones are probably the ones at Laufás, they are in a very good state still so you get the feeling of being transported back in time. The ones at Baugasel are also nice, but there some of the houses are gone and there’s just the foundation left and it’s being taken over by the vegetation. But still I find them very fascinating.

 

Is it worth it?

During last summer tourist who wanted to visit the geothermal area at Hveragerði, in the South of Iceland had to pay a fee of 200 ISK (1.20 EURO, 1.65 USD). This was meant to be trial to see if it would put off tourists or if they would be willing to pay knowing that the money would go to building up the area and maintaining walking paths etc. Even if the number of tourists visiting Hveragerði did in fact decrease they don’t think it’s related to the fee, since there was a decrease of visitors in the area around it as well.

There has been a huge discussion about the subject of putting fees on some of the more visited areas, such as Geysir, Þingvellir etc. As of next year you will have to pay a fee to visit Geysir, but if this will be the only place is yet to see.

Are you willing to pay to see this beautiful and unique place?

Are you willing to pay to see this beautiful and unique place?

When I first heard of the fee discussion I was totally against it, but then I started thinking. The money will go to maintaining the areas and that might be a good thing. Seeing as how many tourists visit these places every year it does cause a lot of damage to the areas. As far as I know the fee will be low and used for a good cause, so maybe this is acceptable? My only hope is that they won’t put fees on too many places scaring off too many tourists. But I do think it’s worth a try. These are places we need to preserve before they become to worn down and worst case scenario, will have to be closed.

What do you think? Are you willing to pay a small fee to see some of the most famous, and therefore most visited places in Iceland?

Equality

It’s supposedly good to be a woman in Iceland. According to the “2013 Global Gender Gap Index” from “World Economic Forum”, Iceland is in the lead when it comes to “Gender Equality” for the fifth consecutive year. Sweden is only ranked as number four, which isn’t that bad. Finland and Norway are ranked second and third. So if you, as a woman, want equal rights you should live in one of the Nordic counties 😉

For more info check out this article from the Reykjavik Grapevine.

Foreigners in Iceland

In the first nine months of this year, 3,046 foreigners moved to Iceland. Since I moved here last year I am not one of them. I must say that as much as I can understand that people want to move here, since it is such a beautiful place, I never thought it was that many that came to live here. As far as I knew Iceland was a pretty “closed” country, but maybe I was wrong.

Top ten nationalities:

Poland: 1,018

Germany:176
U.S: 144
Lithuania: 132
Spain: 120
Denmark: 118
UK: 95
France: 76
Latvia: 73
Portugal: 70

Sweden wasn’t even on the list, so I guess there aren’t that many of us moving here. Why would we move here? It can’t be for the climate, you can find the same kind of climate in north of Sweden. All I can come up with, apart from love which was my reason for moving here, is the amazing nature. We of course have pretty great nature in Sweden too, but there is just nothing that compares to Iceland, it’s just one of a kind and I can’t imagine living any where else.

The information about this subject I found in an article on Iceland Review