just how small is iceland? well, pretty small by eva lind’s standards as she guest blogs this week about the odd phenomenon of tour-bumping into familiar faces when travelling the length and breadth of the country…
< by eva lind >
“where are you from?”
“we’re from Australia. what about you?”
“oh, gosh, that must have taken you just days to get here. we’re from Texas.”
“oh, we want to go to Texas some day…”
and so began what seemed a very long ride in the minibus with other tourists who were picking up their rental cars. i don’t know if you noticed, but the husband and i were keeping quiet in this love-fest. having been around iceland before, i knew what these people didn’t – be careful of befriending other tourists in iceland because you will keep bumping into each other all around the country and you may not want to get stuck with them!
i realise i’m not the kind of person who just talks to whoever is near me for the sake of it anyway and i do appreciate that you can get to know some really nice people through random encounters like this. but if you get lumbered with someone in iceland early on in your trip, you can be sure that you will be stuck with them for the duration.
some examples of “recurring tourist syndrome” from the last trip:
- one of the couples who picked up their car at the same time as us had driven around iceland in the other direction from us, yet we both managed to have parked and looked around at the same bridge at the same time. what are the chances of that? well, quite high in iceland.
- we saw another english couple at several different restaurants around iceland. we were always already eating as they came in, looked at the menu and left again. (not sure where else they thought they could eat in some of these towns) we even saw them at the airport on the last day, again going around all of the food in dismay.
- at one night’s accommodation the restaurant had shared tables. at the next table, couple A and couple B were seated together. we could overhear some stilted conversation and were glad we had somehow managed to time our meal so that we were on our own. the next morning at breakfast, couple A had happened to sit at the same table as the night before and despite the fact that there many empty tables, couple B joined them. they got quite a frosty reception from couple A and it was all very cringe-worthy to watch them eating in silence with couple B not really understanding why they weren’t welcome. we saw couple B the next day at a waterfall but luckily had already set out our stall as unfriendly types.
- an elderly couple were camped outside our bedroom door all night at one place with a tiny “lounge” area in the hall with their maps spread out all over the place. having to keep going past them to get to the toilet and knowing they were right outside the door and could hear everything we were saying was just annoying. typically, they managed to be returning their rental car at the same exact minute we were and having been annoyed by them once already on this holiday i didn’t really want to share the lift back to town with them. luckily they were so inept that they hadn’t filled up with petrol so we got our own lift.
i know i must sound pretty miserable in this post, but i think different countries have different acceptable levels of stranger-friendliness and when you put different groups of tourists together in a third place you get some interesting reactions! this is why i love people-watching so much.
how stranger-friendly are you and how much of this is cultural rather than an individual behaviour?
*Eva Lind is an Icelandoholic and the guardian of the very insightful blog“I’d rather be in Iceland” which is on our list of sites to follow. She started the blog because she needed a platform to talk about the country to her heart’s content. She’s since grown to love writing the blog and even better, reading other people’s blogs on Iceland as well.