Can you tell me more about the delicious Icelandic lobster?

Langoustine

Q: Last time I visited Iceland, I ate Icelandic lobster. It was delicious. Can you tell me more about it?

A: The Latin name of the species is Nephrops norvegicus and it’s a type of small lobster. In English, it goes by the name of Norway lobster, Atlantic shrimp, scampi, and langoustine. It’s the only lobster caught in the waters around Iceland, so in Icelandic, it’s simply called humar (lobster), even though the technically correct term is leturhumar (Norway lobster).

The tail is the only part of this lobster that’s large enough to eat. A popular dish in Iceland is humarsúpa or lobster soup, a hearty soup with curry powder, vegetables, and langoustine best eaten with a dot or heavy cream and chives on top. You can find frozen langoustine tails in most supermarkets and they’re easy to prepare if you would like to have a go at it yourself. However, if you prefer dining out, it might be good to know that the lobster capital of Iceland is Höfn, a town in the east. Höfn is famous for its lobster cuisine, from lobster pizza to grilled langoustines served with garlic butter.

You will find plenty of options in Reykjavík, too. You might want to check out The Seabaron’s menu next time you’re in town, their lobster soup is the stuff of legends!

The langoustine is undoubtedly delicious but unfortunately, the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute has recently expressed concerns over langoustine stock numbers and in recent years, catches have been on the decline. According to a scientist from the institute, a fishing ban (or lobstering ban, in this case) is a possibility, although further research is needed.

Wind and Wave Warning This Weekend

A low-pressure area off the southwest coast of Iceland will bring gale-force winds in that region and will likely trigger waves of up to 13 m [43 ft], Vísir reports.

These waves will not merely be out at sea but will also be in evidence along the southern and western coastlines, particularly in the later part of the day and evening on Friday. As much of Route 1 and other main roadways travel along the coast in these regions, travellers are advised to be cautious.

Alerts posted on safetravel.is similarly advise that “very strong and hazardous” waves at Reynisfjara beach on the South Coast are expected for the whole weekend. Visitors should “[u]se extra caution, stay WELL back from the water, and [not] leave children unattended.” No one should attempt to enter the cave at Reynisfjara during this time, either.

Safetravel.is also notes that Friday evening will being high winds of up to 40m/s [144 km/h;  90 mph] “in the north and east from Hvammstangi to Egilsstaðir and in the highlands.” Drivers are advised to reduce their speed when driving in these areas.

You can check Safetravel.is for weather alerts in Icelandic. English, French, German, and Chinese.

Icelandic Climber in South Africa “Luckiest Man Alive”

A 32-year-old Icelandic tourist who survived a 20 m [65 ft] fall on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa is “the luckiest man alive,” says the head of the local Search and Rescue team. “CapeTalk” reports that the Icelander was climbing the mountain, fell, and landed on a very small outcrop on a cliff ledge “the size of a double bed.” Luckily, his cries for help were heard in the suburb of Camps Bay, which is located at the base of the mountain, and he was rescued that same evening.

Table Mountain is a prominent, flat-topped mountain that towers above Cape Town. It is 1,085 m [3,558 ft] at its highest point and is a popular tourist attraction, as well as a notable destination for hikers.

Roy van Schoor, the incident commander for the Wilderness Search and Rescue team, said in a radio interview that “the whole lot of things that came together to contribute to his being alive today are absolutely incredible.” For one, he landed on a ledge, instead of plummeting a full 80 m [262 ft]. For two, the wind direction was blowing in just the right direction so that his cries for help were actually heard by someone below the mountain. Then there was the fact that the search team, which had to repel 300 m [984 ft] in strong winds to reach the man, were able to complete the rescue at night and also remove the man safely. “He’s literally…uh, the luckiest man alive,” repeated Roy with a laugh.

The Icelander was hiking alone on the mountain and, like many visitors to Cape Town, didn’t “understand the dangers of the mountain” remarked the interviewer. In fact, when discussing the Cape Town incident, Roy echoed the sentiments that are often expressed by Icelandic Search and Rescue teams when talking about rescues on mountains around Iceland.

“The big problem is that tourists, they come into Cape Town, and they might have climbed back home—the Icelander is quite possibly a climber in Iceland—and they see, ‘ah, there’s a beautiful mountain that’s like, right on top of the city, and think, let’s go!’ […] Table Mountain being extremely accessible with many, many access points, they decide to go on their own, and going down is a serious problem and we…we battle, we do battle with that sort of a thing: many, many accidents involving tourists.”

Roy advocated for better informational signage on the mountain that could advise tourists of which routes are easy and which are difficult and also added that “hotels can also help in public safety awareness.”

Although the Icelander was brought down from the mountain safely, there was no further information on his condition at time of writing.

The full radio interview about the rescue can be listened to (in English) here.

Tiefdruckgebiet und Hochwasser bringen extreme Wellen

Das Tiefdruckgebiet, das sich heute Morgen von Südwesten her über das Land schiebt, bringt nicht nur Sturm und Regen mit, sondern sorgt auch für einen ungewöhnlich hohen Wellengang, berichtet RÚV.

Auch wenn sich der Wind nach dem Mittag wieder etwas legt, doch hatte die Küstenwache bereits gestern vor ungewöhnlichem Meereshochwasser gewarnt. Die Mittagsflut in Reykjavík betrug heute morgen 4,5 Meter statt 4 Meter wie gewöhlich bei durchschnittlichem Hochwasser, berichtet RÚV.

Im Westen des Landes können die Wellen 8 bis 10 Meter hoch werden, weiter draussen auf dem Meer gegen Ende der Woche sogar bis zu 14 Meter.

Damit sind vor allem die Seeleute auf dem offenen Meer gefährdet. Die Küstenwache fordert alle Schiffsführer auf, die Wellenvorhersage mitzuverfolgen, wo immer es möglich ist.

Auch beliebte Strände wie die Reynisfjara und Djúpalónssandur sind unter diesen Umständen gefährlicher als an normalen Tagen, und man sollte dem Meer fernbleiben.

Der Wetterdienst rechnet mit einem weiteren Tiefdruckgebiet für morgen, es kommt mit Wind oder Sturm mit Regen aus dem südlicher Richtung und trifft den Süden und Westen des Landes.

Die Strassen in Island sind überall schnee- und eisfrei. Regenwasser und auftauender Boden führen jedoch dazu, dass Schotterpisten und Feldwege tief und matschig sind, man kann sich dort also schnell festfahren.

 

Right of Way Signage on One-Way Bridges Confusing for Drivers

Traffic signs showing what driving direction has the right of way are not clear enough for use on Iceland’s one-way bridges. Vísir reports that the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration is considering whether they should change look of the sign in order to ensure that there is no doubt about whether drivers should wait for oncoming traffic or proceed first across a one-way bridge.

In its review of the traffic code, the Road Administration also presented other ideas on things like the unified speed limit for all vehicles. According to some who participated in the review, Iceland’s road system can’t support heavy transport travelling at that speed. Road shoulders in poor condition along the Ring Road were pointed to as evidence of some of the inherent risks of vehicles carrying heavy loads travelling at such high speeds.

Other ideas under consideration include dividing bidirectional lanes on Route 1. Such a partition may well have prevented a serious accident that occurred in South Iceland only recently when the driver of a car lost control on an icy patch of road and collided with one traveling in the opposite direction. The vehicles crashed at high speed, flipping one of them. Three of the four passengers in the accident then had to be airlifted to the hospital with serious injuries.

Following a traffic accident which ended in the deaths of two adults and one child ost their lives when their vehicle went through the railing on a single-lane bridge, the Road Administration elected to reduce the speed limit to 50 kph [31 mph] on all single-lane bridges throughout the country. The country’s 75 single-lane bridges are highly trafficked: it’s estimated that more than 300 cars cross single-lane bridges every day in Iceland.

At the same time that the speed limit was reduced, the Road Administration also planned to change signage to indicate which traffic direction had the right of way. These signs show a red arrow and a black arrow to represent the two different traffic directions. The black arrow is supposed to indicate the direction that has the right-of-way, however, when the arrows are the same size, it often confuses drivers. The Road Administration is then considering a change that New Zealand made to their own signage in which the red arrow is made significantly smaller in order to eliminate any doubt as to what direction has priority.

Geo Climate Biodome Depends on Investors

The establishment of a proposed 4,500 m2 [48,438 ft2] cluster of geodesic greenhouses on the edge of Reykjavík’s Elliðaárdalur valley will depend on private investors, RÚV reports. According to the chair of the municipal Planning and Transport Committee, the city is prepared to allocate land for the project and believes it will have a positive impact on recreation in the area, but does not have funds to offer for its development.

BioDome Reykjavík (previously known as ALDIN Biodome) is a project of the Spor í sandinn consultancy firm and, per a profile in The Polar Connection aims to not only be “the world’s first geo climate biodome,” but also the first carbon neutral one. Capitalizing on the wealth of geothermal energy available in Iceland as well as the country’s “fertile volcanic soil,” BioDome Reykjavík will “…create a lush, verdant oasis beneath a glazed dome…A place that will grow its own food, supporting indoor Mediterranean as well as tropical environments, for the health, nourishment and enjoyment of all who visit.” In addition to its rich plant life, the plans also include a plaza, specialty restaurant, and marketplace focusing on Icelandic produce.

Initial plans for the biodome were approved by the city in December 2017, after criticism from people living in the area led to a reduction of the height of the domes and the removal of proposed buildings on the west side of the site. The proposed parking lot was also scaled down. Spor í sandinn founder and CEO Hjördís Sigurðardóttir says the plans for the project have gone through five or six drafts and changed a great deal in response to a site changes as well; initially, the project was proposed to be located in the more central Laugardalur neighbourhood, but this was rejected by the city.

Having received an initial round of investment during the planning and design phase, Hjördís is currently looking to secure the next phase of financial support. In her interview with RÚV on Wednesday, she wouldn’t give a specific figure of how much the project was projected to cost but conceded that biodomes were “expensive structures.”

See project visualization photos and read more about the proposal for BioDome Reykjavík (in English) on the Spor í sandinn website, here.