Julien Apack from Grenoble has visited Iceland twice, in 2004 and 2007, and recently he has found himself missing something about it. This is the first time he has written an open letter to an island.
I miss you.
Last time we met was more than three years ago, and the time before that was three years before. Even if there was no previous time before those two times, I miss you today.
I live in a beautiful place where there are big mountains around and it’s nice. Though glaciers nearby are ice cubes for a glass of Pastis compared to the massive impression one has, when looking at your Vatnajökull from the cliffs of Skaftafell.
I like it that on you there are no big electric lines everywhere and that it’s wild and wide and big and free and every breath of your air is more refreshing than a supra-menthol chewing-gum.
The water is good too. The Brennivin is stranger but is really worth a try. Your ale however… Well… it’s drinkable and it’s ale so it’s ok.
I like your baths too, especially the one near Mývatn, but i haven’t tried them all. That could be a reason to come back too but it’s not necessarily what makes me miss you right now.
I love your light, you have the most amazing light my eyes have been filled with. I’m not talking about the northern lights, that I didn’t see, and could be a reason to come back to you, but it’s not a reason to miss you since I didn’t experience it. I’d like to see that, but it can wait. Anyway, I love your summer light at the end of June.
I also had the most enjoyable time sitting and watching your falls. They’re powerful but give peace at the same time and make the spirit lyrical. I miss them too, but it’s not what’s staying in my thoughts right now.
Of course, there’s this little thrill when I remember your strangely funny and beautiful but so dangerous muddy bubbling stuff. That is not something one sees every day.
Maybe you’re thinking that I want to come back to have another very refreshing foot-bath in the Jökulsárlón? Once was enough you know. Besides, I can do it at home more or less.
What is reeeaaaally making me pain for not being on you now is not, either, the sight on your north-west fjords from the hills of Grunnavík, that I keep in my heart as one of the most perfect moments I’ve had (the picture doesn’t reflect one tenth of the feeling).
Now, you’re probably thinking I’m going for the “warm people and lovely kindness that made the welcoming stay as sweet as an ounce of sugar in a cup of honey”… Well that’s true you have wonderfully welcoming people whom I had a lot of pleasure to talking with. I liked everyone I talked to and never felt unwelcomed or lost. It made me sick when I learned the financial problems they were facing. So I really liked your people, I regularly read some thriller novels from your authors and am often curious about the music festivals there because, hey! — this is Iceland and music festivals must really be super-cool.
And yet, I could still live a few years and keep on maintaining a distant interest, and I would eventually end aching for a pint of your average good beer in a bar in Reykjavík, talking with cool people, watching the sky never getting dark. But it’s not urgent, imperious, imperative like what I’m longing for right now.
There are tons of other thing I can mention as being worth a third visit, seeing the Trolls of Vík from above the cliff was extraordinary for example.
Or contemplating these strange rocks nearby…
Or simply walking by the harbour of Húsavík.
Or taking the ferry to Stykkishólmur.
Or watching a boat floating in the entrance of the harbour of Heimaey, between these beautiful cliffs and the little Pompei.
All of these are simple and great moments i owe you and will eventually make me return.
But what I miss above all since a few days, and that could make me take a flying machine to come back sooner, is your lobster soup.
I had some of this soup in the tourist house in Jökulsárlón and in a tiny restaurant in Reykjavík harbour.
I thought I would never forget it, but for the last days that went by, I realized with horror that I can’t imagine it any more. It’s been too long! My memory is fading! I need some of your soup now!
I have taken great pictures of you (even though I’m no super photographer, but it’s hard to make bad photos of you) so I can remember places, sightseeing, walks and hiking moments.
But there is no film able to print the taste of your lobster soup. So i’ll have to come back again, I hope you don’t mind preparing some lobster soup for when I’m around.
Thank you, hope to see you again soon!
Monsieur Julien Apack is a young man trés sympa from Grenoble in France. (If you don’t believe it, just ask him on his Twitter.) He visited Iceland in 2004 and 2007. He wrote this open letter to Iceland and posted it on his Tumblelog on 26 September 2010. He will be back.
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