„Oh, is Iceland an island?“
Does the coastline reach all around the island? Are there many glaciers this year? When do the northern lights turn on?
Tour guides in Iceland have been sharing some of these hilarious questions, and more, in a thread on a Facebook group called Bakland ferðaþjónustunnar (e. Backbone of the tourism industry).
Apparently, some guests in Iceland don’t realize that even if the country boasts active volcanoes it doesn’t mean that there is an active eruption.
A guide on Reykjanes peninsula shared a story about a British couple that kept asking if they could see an eruption. “A few days later I received word from the travel agency since that the couple had sent a strongly worded letter to complain about not seeing any “active volcanoes” as they thought they had been promised by the name of the trip.
Where is the Loll-store?
Another guide told the story of a retail misunderstanding.
“Where can I find the nearest Loll-store?” he was asked. The guide had no idea. “They are green and everywhere,” said the tourist. After a little while it became clear that he was asking for the 10/11 stores and had read the logo wrong.
Many tourists come here to see the northern lights and some of them ask for a hotel room with a north-facing window to see them better.
Some tourists also don’t seem to realize the best times to see the lights and expect to see the midnight sun and the northern lights during the same trip. It’s even quite common for tourists to ask at what time the northern lights will turn on.
One guide told the story of coming into a hotel at around 6 p.m. in December and asking guests if they wanted to see the lights.
“One guy looked at his watch and said: Yes, but they don’t start until 9 p.m.”
The guide said that as the conversation was taking place the lights were dancing in the sky with fervor. Other guides agreed and said that many tourists expect the lights to come on at a certain time, as if flipped on by a switch, and that many complain if the lights don’t make an appearance at the right time or if they aren’t as bright as in the photos they’ve seen. Others complain about the lights being so bright and lasting so long that there isn’t enough time for sleep.
Where’s the rainbow?
Many other Icelandic wonders get their share of complaints. One tour guide got an earful because the rainbow over Gullfoss was missing. A few stories also surfaced on the thread about tourists that thought the glaciers where very dirty and threatened to complain to Green Peace over their poor treatment by the Icelandic people.
The leader of a group of tourists by Sólheimajökull glacier asked an Icelandic guide if there were many glaciers this year, as if they came and went on a regular basis.
A travel guide in the highlands shared this story.
“Met a tourist in the highlands the other day that asked: “What is that annoying bird that has a black stomach, with a white stripe and yellow-brownish back? Whistles nonstop and follows you, very annoying.”
For those not in the know, „lóan“ or the European golden plover, is considered one of the first signs of spring in Iceland and is something of a national treasure.
Another guide told how an American tourist wasn’t happy enough with the geyser Strokkur and said that it didn’t erupt for long enough. It would be better if water was in a continuous flow, he said.
Strokkur only erupts every few minutes - rather than in a continuing flow as one tourist helpfully suggested it should. mbl.is/Ómar Óskarsson
Had to lift their legs too much
Transportation can also be a bother. One tourist drove a couple out to the country side that wanted to see certain attractions. However, the wife was desperately afraid of gravel roads and hadn’t realized that any Icelandic roads wouldn’t be paved with asphalt.
An Austrian who walked on Hrútafjallstindar with a guide some years ago said: “I don’t like mountains that go up and down.” He felt it unfair that to get to the top of a mountain he would have to walk up for half of the way.
Icelandic animal life is also confusing to some. Tourists expect to see huskies in the highlands and some even ask to see polar bears.
French tourist that went on a ten-day hike over Syðra-Fjalla-bak complained that the paths in the highlands were too narrow and that there were rocks everywhere. “You have to keep lifting your feet all the time,” they said. Some tour guides had also heard complaints from those that couldn’t sleep in Iceland because of the overwhelming silence.
How long does it take to drive to Europe?
Geography can also get in people’s way, for example, one tourist was scratching his head over his map by the harbor in Grandi, trying to figure out the best way to walk from there to Snæfellsjökull glacier, which is about 200 km away.
A couple asked the same guide about weather conditions in Kjölur, where they were going for a hike. This was in November and it’s safe to say that the snow would have slowed the hike down quite a bit.
“Does this coastline reach all around the island?” one guide heard and another was asked: “How long does it take to drive to Europe?”
When the guide answered that such a feat would be impossible from this particular island in the Atlantic Ocean the tourist was very surprised.
“Oh, is Iceland an island?