careful who you befriend in iceland…

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…

- seeing the same old people on your journey? time for a detour then. -

– seeing the same old people on your journey? time for a detour then. –

< 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.


10 responses to “careful who you befriend in iceland…

  1. you know i was stifling a few chuckles after reading this article because i bumped into one of our tour guides and a person that attended the sigur ros concert with us on our south coast tour, so this phenomenon is quite common. as to whether culture or behaviour determines how friendly one is, i would definitely go with a bit of both. culturally, asians are yappier and me being an indian, makes it even worse. our conversations can be epic when the mood hits us but when energies are low, you’ll find us the worst conversationalists ever. *guilty face* generally i think personally, i tend to use my feelers first and conversation normally is directed to the guide when i’m on tours only because i tend to get curious on my journey and if the guide is friendly, i feel more comfortable asking questions, thereby making me chattier than usual. nice one!

  2. Pingback: Be careful who you befriend in Iceland | I'd Rather Be In Iceland·

    • same here…i saw a lot of my groups giving off the ‘please don’t talk to me vibe’ which struck me as odd. it’s probably because i work in media and there is no place for shyness in our industry. getting to know people is part of our job and we tend to be chattier than most. just trying to be friendly, that’s all…but i do understand if there are overly-chatty tourists who overwhelm others in their tour groups.

  3. I felt that that chill of horror when I read this post – there must be an etiquette that should apply to tourists towards other tourists. It has certainly passed me by. But I’m sure some people manage it all with aplomb – in fact my husband was brilliant at being reasonable civil but not rude whereas I was always over the top and then plain rude. It was my one big fear of not having a car – my own little world – but in fact I’ve found the bus not invading my space at all. But then I suppose my travel now is more like commuting which is not known for its friendly chit chat!

    civil but

    • lol! well, for me as i explained to mature student, i’m in media so being chatty/friendly is our thing. we do have our ‘downtimes’ where we go into silent mode but yeah, it’s good to just treat it like your daily commute to work, if you will/ 🙂

  4. I totally agree with you about the problem with tourist. Since we have been travelling around a lot it’s been kind of funny to see that you always run in to the same people. But then again every tourist wants to see all the famous landmarks 😉

  5. I like your article and I often felt the same. We ran very often in to the same people. I’m not the type who is doing conversation with other tourists, too. So they receive my “Don’t talk to me” vibrations right in the beginning. 😉 But that is not depending on Iceland. I used to handle it in other countries, too. We had our biggest aha moment as we met one of the three French hitchhikers we gave a lift in the Westfjords 14 days later near Skogarfoss. That was really funny and she rememberd us in fact. 😀

  6. just to add another thought. i think it would be a bit stressful to always be reserved and consciously decide not to talk to people. my philosophy was – i’m going to be in this country for a short time, so i’m open to making friends wherever i will be going, depending on whether we have good chemistry between us. so i bumped into a few of them at certain places. no biggie. just say hi. if they wanna be by themselves, so be it. if they wanna join you and they weren’t obnoxious or off-putting in any way, then hey, you’re welcome to pow-wow with us. after all, after i leave iceland, we may or may not ever be in contact again, so make hay while the sun shines. i think if you go into a trip already having such reservations, then why are you going on that trip anyway in the first place? isn’t the whole idea of exploring the places outside your own backyard a nod to living life, meeting new people, expanding your perspectives and getting out of your comfort zone? i mean, that’s what it is for me and that’s why i travel and i’ve been to almost every continent except for s.america, lived, studied and worked in the united states for 7 years and still i crave to explore more. if i didn’t have that curiosity to explore and find out more things about the world and its people, you’d find me at home. just my 2 cents. 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s