Born to Travel Show about Iceland

Yesterday morning, a television show focused on Iceland finally aired here in the U.S., after having been heavily hyped by Inspired by Iceland. The show was only a half hour long, but it must have run a promo for the give-a-way of a trip to Iceland 4 times in that time period. I must say the affect was a little bit like the show was a paid advertisement for Iceland or something.

But actually it is part of ABC (American Broadcast Cooperation)'s Educational and Entertaining Saturday morning lineup, which includes Jack Hannah's Wild Animals and this show. So it is kind of a throw back to good old fashioned family friendly programming by one of the national broadcast companies.

The show was however not about Iceland, really. It was about the host, Richard Weiss, "investigating" what it is like for Icelanders to live so close to volcanoes. He did a good job of explaining the terror and downside of this fact of Icelandic life, especially by a long bit on the Westmann Island's eruption, complete with closeups of the ruins still found around Heimey. The dramatic pictures of the recent volcanic eruptions and glacial melt floods spliced in between his interviews with various people also helped make Iceland seem rather terrifying.

The latter part of the show though was supposed to show how Icelanders had adapted to this situation, and made the best of it. Unfortunately, the host seems to have largely missed the point of the geothermal heating and electricity, since after some dramatic shots of the pipeline going from the hotspring near Reykholt, his voice over said something about how this made opening the gas and electric bills in Iceland a lot more bearable. He seemed to understand better that the hot soil around volcanic vents can be used for baking bread and cooking eggs, as if everyone does that on a daily basis. He also had a bit about a farm near Vík which had been covered in 4cm of ash two years ago, but now had very green fields all around it, thanks to the fertilizing affect of the volcanic ash.

Among the people he interviewed were Haraldur Sigurdsson of the Volcano Museum, the lovely blond who lived on the aforementioned farm, and my own dear friend, Gunnar Marel Eggertsson.  Of course Gunnar was interviewed inside Vikingaheimar with his ship Íslendingur behind him, but actually the show never even explained what that was. Not a single reference to Vikings not giving up life in Iceland despite the volcanoes, nothing about Gunnar building a Viking ship after leaving the Westmann Islands. Instead the clip was just of Gunnar talking about what it was like the night he was evacuated from his home in the Westmann Islands as a child, with a incongruous image of a Viking ship over his shoulder.

Anyhow, I am glad I made the effort to watch the show.


Óli Gneisti said…
Ætli honum hafi verið sagt að bensínverð væri orðið mjög hátt en sá sem sagði það hafi ekki gert skýran greinarmun á "gas" og "gasoline"?
Lissy said…
Jú, þetta getur nú alveg verið. Ég var samt með sú tilfinning að hann Richard skildi að Íslendingur nota heitt vatn beinn úr jorðinu, en ekki að vantið (eða gufa) virkja orku.

The Icelandic guide he was with was a very tall, good looking man who seemed mostly concerned with how jovial he was, instead of making sure the significant information was conveyed. It would have made the show much more interesting if they had mentioned the geothermal powerplants. That is a very impressive use of the volcanic power of Iceland, and I would say a major Homer Simpson "Doh!" not to mention. Baking bread, not quite so impressive.

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