A talk with … Michael Koenigshofer
In the summer of 2016, Austrian Michael Koenighofer hitchhiked around Iceland. Here he tells about the positive experiences he had on this trip.
Why Iceland? And why such a long trip?
I first became interested in Iceland a few years ago through the Icelandic band, SIGUR RÓS. These guys really know how to make music that sounds just like the Icelandic countryside looks. I’ve always been fascinated by the north – not just with music. It was a five-week trip, because that’s the best way to truly get away from the everyday routine. A person can travel differently when there’s no time pressure. It’s certainly not as hectic.
Why did you decide to hitchhike?
I got the idea on a previous trip through Norway. It was not uncommon there to wait three hours for the bus, so I thought I would just see if I could bum a ride. And it worked! I wanted to try that in Iceland, too. Some friends told me that it’s easy to travel by hitchhiking in Iceland.
So you got around quite well hitchhiking?
Yes, for the most part. The average time I had to wait was 10 to 40 minutes. There was very little risk since I could always just take the next bus in a pinch if hitchhiking didn’t work.
What kind of people did you meet along the way? How did you communicate with them?
I was only picked up by Icelanders for around a third of the 40 rides I got. The rest of the people came from every corner of the world. Language wasn’t a problem since nearly everyone speaks English. Except for one elderly couple in their 80s – we didn’t understand each other at all. I had the impression they thought I was a refugee. When they tried letting me off at a church, I just kept marching on my way.
What places did you like best and what were your least favorite ones?
In Iceland – much more so than in my own country, Austria – whether a place is good or not depends a lot on the weather, the light and position of the sun. That’s why I even visited some places twice, such as Jökullsárlón. But another nice moment was just riding in the car with two female art students who were listening to some really good music. After agreeing that we all loved Sigur Rós, we drove along the coastline for an hour listening to their music. Beautiful.
Did you discover anything special on your trip?
Yes, an electro festival in the middle of nowhere. Rave in a cave, so to speak. One evening I went for a walk up a grassy hill. After about an hour, I was standing at the top of a 40-meter high cliff, where it was totally peaceful and quite. Until I looked down and saw these tiny ant-like people having some fun. Once I climbed down, there were about 100 people – brought in by two large busses – dancing to the music of a popular Russian DJ. Pretty absurd, actually.
Vielen Dank, Michael, für das Teilen deiner Erfahrungen beim Trampen um Island!
Have a look at Michael’s homepage: www.koenigshofer.squarespace.com
Translation: Melinda Kumbalek