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  • General

    An unknown traveller leaves a great phonetic guide for basic Icelandic words

    By Staff

    The phonetic guide (pictured above) on how to pronunce basic Icelandic words is pretty impressive. It was left behind by an unknown traveller and found by local girl Sandra Smára, who posted it to Twitter, thanking the unknown traveller for the "laugh out loud moment of the day": Icelanders never cease to be amused by funny non-native attempts to pronounce Icelandic words.

    Icelandic is notoriously hard to learn and even harder to pronounce. (Case in point: Remember that volcano which erupted in 2010?) The pronounciation guide is spot on, and if you want to pronounce Icelandic correctly you will certainly come closer to your goal than if you were to try to figure the pronounciation out from their spelling!

    Although the list was originally posted in November of 2016 it has popped up on social media a few times since then, and we thought it was a good idea to share it with our readers again. 




  • General

    Captain of sightseeing boat charged with causing fatal accident at Jökulsárlón pleads innocence

    By Staff

    At Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon The victim was a Canadian woman travelling with her husband and older son. Photo/Vísir.

    A 24 year old man who was charged with manslaughter for having caused a fatal accident in 2015, when an amphibious vehicle he was piloting backed on land, hitting and killing a Canadian woman, has plead innocence. The family of the woman who died has withdrawn a civil suit seeking damages from the man.

    Read more: Captain of sightseeing boat charged in case of Canadian woman killed at Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

    According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service the family of the Canadian woman had requested 43 million ISK (415,000 USD/368,000 EUR) in damages from the man. The damages were dropped after the insurance company of Jökulsárlón ehf, the employer of the captain and owner of the amphibious vehicle involved in the accident, settled with the family. The details of the settlement remain confidential.

    The man is charged with manslaughter for having backed an amphibious vehicle he was operating without first ensuring there was nobody behind the vehicle. One of the rear view mirrors on the vehicle was missing and a rear-facing camera which should have shown the clearance behind the vehicle was broken. The captain, who was just 22 years old at the time of the accident, also lacked necessary certification to operate the vehicle.

  • Nature

    Repairs of vandalized moss in crater slope: Delicate vegetation should have recovered in 5 years

    By Staff

    Repairing delicate vegetation Mosses which cover lava fields take centuries to grow. Wounds to these fields take decades to heal. Photo/Jóhann K. Jóhansson

    Employees of the Reykjavík municipal geothermal power utility are busy repairing "graffiti" left in the slopes of a moss covered volcanic crater in south-west Iceland. The expert leading the repair says the vegetation should have recovered in five years. It can take moss-fields decades to recover after being damaged.

    Icelandic and foreign vandals responsible

    Moss repair
    "I love you" One of the messages carved into the crater slope is "Ég elska þig", Icelandic for "I love you". Photo/Jóhann K Jóhansson

    The slopes of a volcanic crater Litla Svínahlíð, near the Ring Road connecting Reykjavík and South Iceland, have been covered in messages created by vandals who have ripped out moss to write short sentences or words. 

    Some of the messages could suggest they were left by foreign travellers, including a recent message, "send nudes". Others are clearly written by locals, including Icelandic names and sentences like "Ég elska þig", Icelandic for "I love you".

    Simple repairs help delicate vegetation recover
    The crater is located within the energy utilization area of the geothermal power utility Orka Náttúrunnar. Orka Náttúrunnar operates the Hellisheiði and Nesjavellir power plants, two of the largest geothermal power plants in the world. In addition to producing electricity the utility supplies the metropolitan area with hot water for its geothermal district heating.

    Read more: Nine fascinating facts about geothermal energy and Reykjavík

    Moss repair
    Moss repair Removing the "graffiti" hopefully deters other vandals from damaging mossat other sites. Photo/Jóhann K Jóhansson

    Experts from Orka Náttúrunnar have developed methods to recover the vegetation and landscape of lava fields disturbed by geothermal drilling operations. Harnessing geothermal power requires drilling bore holes, laying roads, building power plants and laying pipes to deliver the steam to the power plant. In the process the operation causes significant disruption and destruction to the original landscape and vegetation.

    Repairing these gray and black wounds in the landscape has been a priority for the utility which now stores moss it removes during construction. The moss is kept frozen and then re-introduced after construction. Other methods include a kind of fertilizer soup which has been seeded with pieces of moss. These methods allow the moss fields to recover in only a few years.

    A wound which would take decades or centuries to be covered by moss can recover fully in five with the help of these methods. 


  • Animals

    Watch: Record number of humpback whales in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland

    By Staff

    Humback whale Jumping in Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland. Photo/Hauganes Whale Watching, Facebook.

    Eyjafjörður fjord in North Iceland is full of whales, local whale watching guides say. Travellers taking whale watching trips have been treated to amazing demonstrations by these gentle giants.

    The following video, shared by a local whale watching company shows two humpbacks jumping in front of one of the whale watching boats:

    One of the owners of Whale Watching Hauganes, one of the whale watching firms in Eyjafjörður fjord, and the oldest whale watching firm in Iceland, told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that conditions in the fjord were unusually good. Usually the whales stay further out, not venturing very deep into the fjord, but this time around the large number of humpbacks have been swimming deep into the fjord.

    A growing humpback population
    The large number of humpback whales in Eyjafjörður is also remarkable when compared to earlier years. These giants of the oceans rarely visited the fjord, but in recent years their numbers have increased:

    "The first few years after we began whale watching in 1993 we never saw humpback whales. But then the numbers increased around 200 and by 2011 we are seeing a humpback whale on every single whale watching trip."

    Whale watching guides have counted at least 20 whales in the fjord.

    A marine biologist who spoke with RÚV said the humpback whale population in Icelandic waters has been growing steadily in recent years. In 1987 the population counted 2000 individuals, but recent estimates put the number at 10-15,000 animals.


  • General

    "The Mountain" denies all accusations: Stories of domestic violence lies, fueled by personal hatred

    By Staff

    Hafþór Júlíus Icelandic strongman, best known for his role as "The Mountain" on the TV series Game of Thrones, is facing serious charges and accusations of physical, emotional abuse. Photo/Hafþór Júlíus, Instagram

    The Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as "The Mountain", denies all charges and accusations of domestic violence. 

    Read more: Strongman "The Mountain" facing new serious accusations of domestic violence

    The local newspaper Fréttablaðið published a front page interview with Hafþór's former Fiancé, Thelma Björk Steimann, on Saturday, where she accused him of having subjected her to physical and emotional abuse during their 2 year relationship 8-10 years ago. The couple has a daughter together. Thelma and her daughter currently live in Copenhagen in Denmark.

    Accusations fueled by personal hatred, greed 

    Thelma Björk Steinmann
    Thelma Björk Steinmann Hafþór and Thelma began their relationship when she was 17 years old. The relationship lasted 2 years. The couple has a daughter together. Photo/Helgi Ómars

    Shortly after Fréttablaðið published its interview with Thelma Hafþór wrote a statement on Facebook where he rejects all the accusations made by Thelma. He says the accusations are "first and foremost colored by personal hatred" of him. He also claims that Thelma was very "emotionally unstable" during the time the couple was together. Hafþór claims that it was he, not Thelma, who was the victim of emotional and physical abuse in their relationship:

    "I never subjected Thelma to any kind of violence. However, our friends and family talked about Thelma having been both physically and emotionally violent towards me. I'm certain that many others, including some of Thelma's closest relatives, have a similar experience with Thelma."

    Hafþór also rejects the statements by a second woman whom he had a relationship with until last year, that he had attacked her. The Metropolitan Police responded to several domestic disturbance calls involving arguments between the two at the home of Hafþór.

    Read more: Breaking: Charges filed against strongman "The Mountain" for domestic violence

    On June 15 this woman filed charges with the police against Hafþór for domestic violence. Hafþór rejects these charges, stating that there is no evidence he ever attacked the woman. I his Facebook post he also alleges the charges are part of a ploy to blackmail him into a financial settlement with the woman, arguing she and her lawyer have made exorbitant financial claims in relation to their break-up.

  • General

    Strongman "The Mountain" facing new serious accusations of domestic violence

    By Staff

    World's second strongest man Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as "The Mountain" from the Game of Thrones is facing more accusations of domestic violence. Photo/Valli.

    Europe's strongest man and Game of Thrones star, the Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, better known as "The Mountain", is facing new accusations of domestic violence. A former fiancé accused Hafþór of beating her over a long period when the couple was dating. The couple have a child

    Read more: Breaking: Charges filed against strongman "The Mountain" for domestic violence

    Several other women have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Hafþór of domestic violence. The police has been called on several occasions to his home to respond to domestic disturbances. The front page interview with Hafþór's former fiancé in the local newspaper Fréttablaðið has caused quite a stir in Iceland, contributing to an ongoing national conversation about domestic violence.

    Teenage sweethearts, violent relationship 

    Thelma Björk Steinmann
    Thelma Björk Thelma now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark Photo/Helgi Ómars

    Fréttablaðið published the interview with Thelma Björk Steimann, where she describes a very tumultuous and violent relationship with Hafþór. The relationship began in 2006 when the two were only teenagers, Thelma only 17 and Hafþór 18.

    Thelma told Fréttablaðið that Hafþór first attacked her at a resort in Benidorm, Spain, where the couple was holidaying with a group of friends and classmates of Thelma. The attack, which took place in their hotel room was caused by Hafþór's jealousy over Thelma speaking to male classmates earlier the same evening.

    Read more: Police responds to a domestic disturbance call at the home of strongman "The Mountain"

    Thelma told Fréttablaðið that after this incidence he apologized and promised the violence would never repeat itself, giving her a pink mobile phone in what she describes as a "sorry-I-beat-you-up" gift. 

    The violence escalated when the couple lived at a college dorm

    The following winter the couple moved to the town of Selfoss in South Iceland where Hafþór had a scholarship and contract. Hafþór and Thelma lived at a dorm at Fjölbrautaskóli Suðurlands junior college where she says the violence escalated.

    "He beat me and threw me around, threw me onto things and broke things. He would frequently grab me by the throat, so that I would faint. Sometimes he held me down, or held me with one hand while he beat me with the other."

    Fréttablaðið spoke to a woman who worked as dorm warden who witnessed the violence while Thelma and Hafþór stayed at the dorm. The warden confirmed Thelma's account, saying that she had to interfere on numerous occasions to stop Hafþór's violence. 

    Emotional abuse and rape  

    Thelma Björk Steinmann
    Thelma Björk Thelma was 17 years old when she met Hafþór. The relationship lasted two years. Photo/Helgi Ómars

    Thelma told Fréttablaðið that Hafþór began to use emotional violence to control her after she discovered she was pregnant. He spent nights drinking and partying with his friends. She also suspected him of infidelity, and one night after she confronted Hafþór he raped her to "prove" that he could not have engaged in sexual intercourse earlier in the evening. The rape took place early morning at the home of his parents. 

    Thelma told Fréttablaðið that she never confronted him, since the morning after Hafþór woke up sick, ending at the hospital.

    After a two year relationship which had been characterized by physical and emotional violence Thelma finally summoned up the courage to leave Hafþór. She now lives in Denmark.

    Wants "the truth about Hafþór to be known"

    She told Fréttablaðið that Hafþór's friends and family always believed his side of events, that she had somehow caused his behavior and brought out the worst in him. She said that she believed stories that Hafþór had become a changed man, but that news that he was facing domestic violence accusations from other women had shocked her. The reason she was coming forward now was that she just wants "the truth about Hafþór to be known".

    "I have thought this through. The reason I want to tell my side of the story is that there is so much wrong and injustice. His fame should not stop people from knowing the truth. It's terrible to learn how he has been treating other girls and women who he has been seeing, since I think they all have a very similar story to tell."

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