Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir recently sent a letter to the inhabitants of Hveragerði to thank them for their swift reaction during the official visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Iceland on April 21.
Hveragerði. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Locals organized a program for Wen and his entourage with almost no notice when landowners barred officials from seeing the nearby crater lake Kerið as had been planned by Icelandic authorities, Fréttablaðið reports.
“He of course wanted to stop and look at Kerið and the entire program was focused around that. Then they weren’t allowed to go there and didn’t know what to do. They called us up and asked whether we could accommodate them with a half an hour’s notice,” said Mayor of Hveragerði Aldís Hafsteinsdóttir.
She was abroad at the time herself but other town council members and the director of the South Iceland information center created a program in 20 minutes for the Chinese premiere and other dignitaries.
“The hot spring area was opened and he was given a guided tour around it which he found very interesting given that he’s a geologist,” Aldís said.
The guests were then taken to the restaurant Kjöt og kúnst, which is located next to the hot spring area and uses the geothermal energy for cooking. The guests were served steam-cooked bread and a leg of lamb.
A few days after the visit, Jóhanna sent townspeople a letter to thank them for their efforts. “She was so grateful that we were able to save the day this way as they were not welcome at Kerið,” Aldís stated.
Hveragerði inhabitants found the unexpected visit to be great fun, she said. “Locals didn’t know what hit them. All of a sudden police officers crowded every street corner and bomb search dogs inspected all the places Wen was supposed to visit. I understand it felt like a hurricane had swept through the town.”
Click here to read more about Wen’s visit.