Isafjördur is a small city in the extreme northwest corner of Iceland. It’s a remote place with a population of just 2,600 year-round residents, but like the rest of the country it has been experiencing a tourism boom. And with the visitors, traffic problems arrived. To protect local pedestrians, and rambling tourists too, the city partnered with Vegamálun to create eye-catching crosswalks to slow drivers down a bit. Seems like a good concept that would work everywhere.
Just in case you needed another good reason to consider a trip to Switzerland, on October 21st the Camille Bloch chocolate company will open its new chocolate museum and tasting center near the firm’s headquarters in the village of Courtelay.
Devotees of Swiss chocolate—still the world’s best as far as I’m concerned—will be well acquainted with the Camille Bloch line of delectable treats. The family-run company, in business since 1929, produces lots of popular chocolates, including the terrific Ragusa and Torino bars. And don’t get me started on their liqueur-filled chocolates.
So, if you’re on a chocolate-themed trip to Switzerland, it’s worth a detour to Courtelay, in the Bernese Jura near the French border, for a museum visit, chocolate tasting, and factory tour.
This year’s Nobel prize for literature was announced yesterday. I don’t usually pay much attention to these types of awards, but I really thought that this would be Margaret Atwood’s year. Still, even though I was surprised by the selection of Kazuo Ishiguro, I am a fan of his work. In fact, I think that “Never Let Me Go” is an often overlooked masterpiece.
The prize announcement reminded me of one of Ishiguro’s enigmatic short stories titled “A Village After Dark” that I read years ago in The New Yorker magazine:
There was nothing I recognized, and I found myself walking forever around twisting, badly lit streets hemmed in on both sides by the little stone cottages characteristic of the area. The streets often became so narrow I could make no progress without my bag or my elbow scraping one rough wall or another. I persevered nevertheless, stumbling around in the darkness in the hope of coming upon the village square—where I could at least orient myself—or else of encountering one of the villagers. When after a while I had done neither, a weariness came over me, and I decided my best course was just to choose a cottage at random, knock on the door, and hope it would be opened by someone who remembered me.
You can read the entire short story here.
If you are a regular reader of TBTP, you know that I’m a big fan of London-based cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld. Along with his weekly comic strips in the Guardian and the New Scientist, Gauld’s work regularly appears in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and many other prestigious publications.Now he has released a new hilarious book of comics titled “Baking With Kafka”, which pokes fun at literary and cultural norms. I’m certain that it will be a huge success.
Last year, Reykjavik-based Studio Granda architectural and design group won an unusual competition, sponsored by Akureyri, Iceland’s second city, to create a monument to mark the spot where the Arctic Circle crosses Icelandic territory. The winning design, called Hringur og Kúla, or Ring and Sphere, is a 8 metric ton, concrete globe now set at 66.56°N on the small windswept island of Grimsey 40 km off of the North Iceland .
There were some significant hiccups in getting the giant sphere to the island, including a minor trucking catastrophe and a long delay. But last week, the official dedication finally was marked with a small celebration.
Unfortunately, since the Arctic Circle actually moves each year, the monument will have to be shifted northward by a few meters. And, sometime after 2050, due to the Earth’s axial tilt, the big globe will wind up in the Arctic Ocean. But for now, you can visit after a 30 minute flight from Akureyri or a stomach-churning 3 hour ferry ride.
For hopeless bibliophiles and coffee addicts like me there’s no place better to while away the hours than a bookshop with its own café. One of my all time favorites, the Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan, is included with eight other terrific independent bookshop/café combos from across the United States in the neat short video below:
It will come as no surprise to learn that Paris’ newest floating bookstore specializes in travel and maritime literature. Librairie Peniche, which is housed in a beautifully restored and remodeled barge, is the passion project of Judith Rosa and Didier Delamare. They had some difficulty in establishing a permanent home for the bookshop, but now can be found at Quai de l’Oise in the 19th.