Iceland for Kids: A User’s Guide

Posted in:Children's Department & People
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Image: Gréta

Eleven-year-old Ástráður Leo (pronounced OWst-row-ther) plays football, swims a lot, and wants to be a baker (“not a cook, a baker”) when he grows up. He’s freckled, precocious, and charming and as one of Iceland’s exuberant youngest generation, he knows better than many what makes his homeland unique.

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How would you describe Iceland to someone who has never visited before?

We’re so small, sometimes Iceland isn’t even marked on maps. But we’re bigger than Denmark, although of course not many people live here. Mostly, though, I’d tell people how good it is to live here.

Why is that?

"The rest of the world has cooler animals than we do here. They have crocodiles and stuff."

Because of the water.

The water?

It’s the best in the world. You just turn on the tap and drink it and it’s great. The Family Park & Zoo is good too.

Where would you like to go in Iceland that you’ve never visited?

Egilsstaðir, because it’s far away and it’s fun to drive. It’s nice to have the family together in the car.

What do you think foreigners think of Iceland?

They think that it’s strange. They probably believe that even if they’ve been here before, because when they come in summer we’re in shorts and T-shirts biking everywhere and they think it’s still really cold. They might think that’s a little weird.

What would you recommend to people coming to Iceland?

They should go to the Family Park & Zoo, and to a pool, just any one that has a good slide. And Jökulsárlón, because it’s totally awesome and I know that tourists like taking pictures of it.

Any secret places not many people know about?

There is a museum near Akureyri where you can go and see the polar bears that they shot here a couple of years ago. I’d like to go and see that.

And the food? What’s good to eat?

It’s very funny to see visitors taste the pickled ram’s testicles for the first time. They must think we’re so ridiculous — although I quite like them [the ram’s testicles. He draws no conclusions on the tourists.] The milk here is also different, because our cows are different.

Does Iceland have any other unique features?

The schools are different here. Some girls I know went abroad and they saw schools with huge fences and the kids weren’t allowed to leave at all. I saw their photos of it on Facebook. Also, there are different shops here than you might be used to. There is no H&M in Iceland and there is no Hagkaup in Norway, for example.

Also the rest of the world has cooler animals than we do here. They have crocodiles and stuff.

And at Christmas, we open presents in the evening, not in the morning. Foreigners get up and open presents in their pyjamas, but we’re already in dressy clothes when we open the presents.

Everyone now knows there’s a severe recession in Iceland. Is your life any different since the recession started?

Yes. We used to get Cocoa Puffs all the time and now we have stopped buying them and just have Cheerios and buttermilk for breakfast. Except at Easter; we’ll have Cocoa Puffs then.

Ástráður was interviewed on Thursday 18 February 2010 by Eliza Reid, a staff writer who sometimes can’t type well because of the baby on her lap.

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19 Comments

Valeria Posted Mar 9th 2010 15:40

Hi Iceland!
Im Valeria, and Im from Argentina.
I had been there last december, meeting the family of my icelandic boyfriend (husband to be ;)).
He is always asking to me to move there, but im not sure. Its nice to read your blog, so im learning more and more.
I would like to know more about “every day things”. I love this kid!!
Takk fyrir
Vale

Ernst Posted Mar 10th 2010 12:36

Greetings Iceland!

Im Ernst, and I hail from the Netherlands.

This article is really interesting because of some stuff and facts I didnt even knew about yet! ( Like the pickled ram’s testicles haha!)

I really wanna visit Iceland someday it seems truly beautyfull on pictures and all the stories I heard from friends!

Hope to see you someday Iceland!

Ernst

louise Posted Mar 10th 2010 13:24

hello there!
I’m french, and I live in iceland since two years now, and I’m in love with this country!!
Anyway, great blog!
sjaumst

you can check my father’s blog about iceland at http://vivre-en-islande.blogspot.com/!

antonella Posted Mar 10th 2010 21:22

Hello Island!
I’m italian and I love this kid too!

I didn’t knew about pickled ram’s testicles too!! 🙂

I hope to see you soon.

It doesn’t matter if you are not indicated on the map!! I love you anyway!!!!!!

Johanna Posted Mar 10th 2010 21:29

Hello Iceland!

I went here just to say that the boy is too cute and his eyes, to dream! </3

W Icelanders and Iceland! =D

Annie Posted Mar 10th 2010 21:48

This is such a great interview.

Ástráður, ég óska þér mikils Cocoa Puffs í framtíðinni!

Ana Posted Mar 11th 2010 02:56

Hello Iceland:

I’m Anaid Ronzon and I’m from Xalapa,Veracruz,México I had never been in Iceland,but me and my best friend(Gerardo coutollenc) love Iceland,and we want to go there someday…! looks really natural and beautiful….with all the waterfalls,animals and people.We saw a lot of pictures abut Reykjavík,Akureyri,Keflavik,and a lot of places with awesome things like chucrches and waterfalls,etc. We know about the icelandic music,and we just it…all the artist…their music is awesome. This article is very interesting…because the people always interview l adult people about their countries….but not the little boys…and is very interesting to see a country thru the eyes of a kid….and he told us(to all the people) thigs about iceland that we didn’t know ,for example I didn’t know that the milk in Iceland is different,and the thing about the pickled ram’s testicles sounds weird,but probably if you come to México everything is going to be weird for you 🙂 ,but awesome too ;),I have an Icelandic friend there ,and he told me a lot of things about Iceland and I found Iceland a very interesting country and I told him a lot of things about México and he found my country interesting too,and he has some Icelandix friends comming to México this April,and my best friend (Gerardo) and me ,we are going to Iceland probably the next year..! so we ar very exiting and saving money…thanks for this article,and byt the wey this little kid is so cute..! see you..! and ciao..! takk-gracias..!

Gigi Posted Mar 11th 2010 19:42

I’m hoping Ástráður can have coco-puffs year-round again soon! Very cool kid! [and some lame maps may not have Iceland on there, but weeee knowwwww….] 🙂

Emanuele Posted Mar 15th 2010 22:35

Hi Iceland,
I’m Italian and I love your country although I’ve never been there but I’m going to visit it next year (when I’ll be 18 :)). Anyway, the article is amusing but I can learn more about the way Icelandic people live from it. About the economic crisis: it might not appear, but in Italy it’s harsh too, but I’m sure that we will recover soon, I got informed and I red that at least the Icelandic government took effective measures to limit the damage as much as possible.
Well, then I hope I’ll enjoy my future trip to Iceland.
See you soon!

kristopher grunert Posted Mar 16th 2010 00:37

Hallo Iceland,

My wife is 1/4 Icelandic. We both took Icelandic language lessons last year. We really hope to come and visit you soon. I really want to take some photographs of your beautiful landscape so that you can post them on your blog.
Bless bless,

Kristopher

http://www.grunertimaging.com

pragya Posted Mar 16th 2010 11:47

Iceland seems to be a take-my-breath-away beautiful country.

A good thing you did by starting this blog. It brings me closer and touches my life, more than it could ever before.
And the more I read, the more i want to be there:-)

Rob Posted Mar 23rd 2010 23:00

I miss Iceland. A beautiful, left-of-center country containing such wild beauty and kind people (a crazy endearing contrast).

I need to find an Icelandic girl and have a reason to come back. 🙂

stina Posted Mar 24th 2010 03:36

To all of you it is a beautiful country.
I grew up there and for Valeria in particular, if you like kids, I can honestly tell you I cant think of a better place in the world to grow up. It was a wonderful experience that simply can’t be matched. Takk fyrir mig! Stina

Rebekka Birgisdottir Satejeff Posted Mar 26th 2010 08:16

Good answers little brother… 🙂 I’m so proud of you.
And very nice pictures.
Hope to see you soon.
Hugs

Asia Posted Mar 27th 2010 20:09

Hi,
I come from Poland, now I’m studing swedish, but my dream was always to visit You, my dear Iceland.

I’m going to visit your blog regulary. Can’t wait for next texts and artickles (i knew about testicles and about raw shark from beach :)).

I hope to see you soon

Yours Asia

Shaun Liam Wall Posted Oct 25th 2010 20:47

Well done Ástráður. You handled that interview very well and you sold a good Iceland. I am a friend of icelanc from ireland who lives in England and is married to an Icelandic wife. We let us say I refuse to be married to her English half so I married the Icelandic. Her mother was Frederika Ásgeirsdottir from Gravenis and she taught me how to make klenas and Icelandic fishcakes and plokkafiskur. I also bake and I use hartshorn just like the old icleandic bakers did. I hope you learn how to use hartshorn. You will be a great asset to iceland as you grow up and i am very pleased to have met you. I’ll be back in May.

Trent MacGregor Posted Nov 30th 2010 16:56

Well hello Iceland. My name is Trent and I am Canadian. While I currently live in Vancouver, British Columbia, my family roots are in Iceland. You may not know it from my name, however, my mother, amma and afi were Icelanders who hail from Arnes, Manitoba.

Although I have never had the opportunity to visit you, I am planning to do so in the near future. I hear that the best time to enjoy festivals is in August. If so, you can count on seeing me soon!

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