Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Never a Good Time Now

I had no intentions of visiting any concentration camps while in Poland, but somehow yesterday I ended up at the worst one. Deniz and Michal thought it was important to see Europe's history, but they are European and I'm not, so I was pretty nervous about the whole thing being less of a learning experience and more of a torture porn tourist destination. It turns out I was pretty divided on the subject and I'm still pretty confused as to what happened.
Oświęcim is about an hour's drive from Krakow, where I've been staying for the last five days. Luckily Michal has a car that he borrowed from a friend in Slovakia, so we were able to take our time enjoying the beautiful countryside and avoid the bus ride. Deniz wanted to take a guided tour through the museum, so he split off from us at the small camp because we weren't interested in doing that for our own individual reasons. The way it works is this: There were originally three camps at Auschwitz, I, II, and III. I is where the museum and famous "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate are. II is the huge main camp that's famous for everything else. III apparently doesn't exist anymore, or at least it's not open to the public. 
The place where we left Deniz, I, completely gave me the creeps, and not in the way you might think. It's hard to tell that there is even a museum or a concentration camp at the location because it's crowded with parking, tour buses, souvenir/book shops, and even a couple of stands labeled in huge block letters "FAST FOOD". When you go inside to get a ticket, there are huge lines of people and racks and racks of headsets being pushed back and forth by employees. There's even a post office and a pay toilet. Michal and I hung around for a bit and then decided to just go to the II camp and walk around. On our way out, an attendant demanded we pay 8 zloty for parking, even though there is not sign mentioning this. I told her we had just been in for 5 minutes and didn't see the museum, so she let us go, but it was the peak of our frustration with how much money and profit is involved with Auschwitz being a tourist attraction. 
Personally, I feel like it should be free and/or donation-based. I know it costs a lot of money to keep it running and do all of the restorations, etc, but there's something insidious about bringing currency into the atmosphere and it really bothered me. 
At the main camp, anyone can enter at no charge, but it's 5 zloty for an information booklet, and you have to pay for the toilets (as a side note- this is not unusual and I don't have a big problem with it, but I just want to point out that it's not completely free). 
Most people were crowded around the first building, which was the lavatory. It was really hot and Michal took his shirt off, which I knew would be trouble, but I didn't say anything. Then we sat in the grass and read our pamphlets and waited for the crowd to thin out. After about five minutes, a man came up to us and started yelling in Polish. I thought he was yelling at Michal for not having a shirt, and I told him to put it on. Michal asked the man "why?" and the guy changed to English and yelled at us that we couldn't be there. So we got up and joined the group in the first building to try to hear some information from one of the tour guides. After about two minutes in there, a woman came up to us and started yelling at Michal for not having a shirt. She told him this was a death place, a cemetery...and stormed off.
I completely understand what she means, and personally, I wouldn't have taken my shirt off, but we couldn't understand why neither of these people could have just explained it to us nicely and had some understanding instead of just shouting and ostracizing us for a pretty minor slip-up. I'm convinced that everyone there thought we were completely uncivilized troublemakers. The entire tour group glared at us and we had to leave. I can honestly say we meant no disrespect. 
It took a while for the sting to wear off, and instead of thinking about the people who actually suffered there, we ended up thinking about what a ridiculous tourist trap the place had become and I felt like that was more criminal than someone unwittingly stepping on the grass.

Fortunately, it's easy to be alone there, because it's huge and most people follow a tour that comes from the museum. Michal and I started going through the opposite way, starting with the barracks and ending with the monument and rails. I can't explain how enormous the place is and how easy it is to recreate scenes in your head. 
About halfway down the row where a big dividing gate is erected, I spotted a small rust-colored deer wildly zig-zagging around the ruins inside trying to find a way out. It was in a complete panic running toward the fences, where there were only two gates ajar that it could slip through. It ran toward the one further from us and met with a barrier. For a moment, it looked around and took in it's options, then backed up slightly and plunged through the barbed wire and shot off across the field and into the woods. 
It was a really beautiful and symbolic scene for me. Very soon after this we found the area where medical experiments were performed, and I completely broke down. After that I just didn't want to see anything else, which was an unfortunate time to decide that, because we still had to walk through the woods past the ash lake and the crematoriums. 
I still feel pretty shook up about the whole experience, but I wanted to share this small story because the bad feelings about this place were amplified and added to by the addition of car parks, ticket takers, and fast food stands. I'm sorry I went. I didn't need to see it. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

What about Warsaw?

I really liked Warsaw until I saw Krakow. But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

I spent four days in Warsaw meeting interesting people and walking, walking, walking. It's a huge city, or at least compared to Vík, it is. I felt like I was the star of one of those movies where a caveman is thawed out and forced into mainstream society and gets totally freaked out. All of the traffic noise seemed amplified, and streets seemed endless. I was overwhelmed.
For all of the expansiveness of the city, I felt really safe, and was impressed by how clean the streets are. It was enjoyable to just wander around and get completely lost, except for the heat, which has been slowly killing me. A young Swiss guy named Vivian joined me on a day-long search for the Uprising Musuem, which came highly recommended. I'd never heard anything about it, so I expected it was some kind of uplifting story about freedom fighters, and was looking forward to seeing it. Given Poland's history, I should have known better, but until we finally found the place, I was blissfully unaware of what a metaphor for Warsaw it is.
In case you are just as clueless as I was, the Uprising Museum is basically a Holocaust museum. It's beautiful and obvious that a lot of money was poured into making it immaculate. And it's also immensely popular. There were tourists everywhere, shoulder to shoulder waiting to buy tickets, waiting to get in, and waiting to be able to see anything inside.
Again, I was hoping for something uplifting, so when I stepped into the entrance to find a dimly lit room with recreations of anti-Nazi graffiti on bombed out walls, my spirits immediately fell. In the first room, there is a huge black wall that is the most terrifying piece of artwork I have ever encountered. From within, speakers rattle the entire museum with the bass-y sound of a steady heartbeat. You can feel it inside your own body. It's that powerful. Along the wall are bullet holes, where smaller speakers play recorded sounds from the time of the uprising. You have to put your ear up to the holes to hear them, and so you get the cold sensation of the metal against your skin, the throbbing of the heart, and then a faint sound of something like singing or gunfire, or some other street sounds, which vanishes as soon as you step away.
It's the creepiest thing I've ever experienced, and the sound of it is inescapable throughout the entire visit in the museum. I suppose that means it's a great piece of art, because it really affected me, but I've never been so scared when trying to learn about history. I actually had to leave prematurely.
I won't go into the details of the exhibit. It's similar to any other WWII museum you've been to, so I don't really have to describe the things that are in there. Perhaps more powerful because it's actually in Warsaw where it happened, and fingering zlotys in your pocket and hearing only Polish while you walk through makes it that much more intense. It was a bit too real for me, is what I'm trying to say.
One thing I will mention is my complete inability to understand why people are so rude in a place like this. Every single WWII museum I've ever been to has been full of visitors who push, shove, and otherwise completely ignore everyone else. I would think that when someone goes to a place to see how horrible people can be to each other, that it would at least inspire them to say "excuse me" before knocking someone else out of the way to look at some old shoes or something. I just don't get it.
Anyway, it's an interesting place if you can handle it, which I couldn't.

I mentioned before that this museum was a metaphor for Warsaw because of this beating heart sculpture. It's a city that cannot escape the oppressive weight of history. You can walk down some streets and see bullet holes in the buildings. Resistance graffiti from the war is still freshly applied with spray paint. People like to talk about the war and how it still affects daily life. Every description of every building begins with "this was damaged during the war..." It's strange, and everything is a reminder of a horrible even that happened not too long ago. People from other parts of Poland describe Warsaw as "grey".
Don't get me wrong. Warsaw is a cool place with a lot going on. I felt good while I was there and didn't feel in a hurry to leave. But as soon as I left, there was a mood shift.

I bought a train ticket for Friday and realized on Saturday that the date on the ticket said Wednesday for some reason. I wasn't too worried about it, but was prepared to have to pay again once I was aboard. As it turns out, the ticket never left my pocket because no one checked it. I didn't even see anyone around who remotely looked like they worked for the train station. Trains in Poland are notoriously late, so about twenty minutes past it's scheduled arrival time, a huge mob of people rushed the cars and started packing themselves in. I thought that since it was Friday, there were more people than usual, but from what I hear, it's always like that. There are first class seats which cost more, and the second class appeared to be standing in the hallway. There is a corridor along one side of each car about 2.5 feet wide where everyone was crowded into. There was barely room for people to pass through, and when they did, everyone else gets crushed against the walls. Luckily there are windows, so people station themselves there to get fresh air. I got the end of one, thankfully, because it was so hot, I might have passed out without it. I'm really short, and sitting down was even a problem for me. The men next to me didn't even bother trying, and stood for the four hour trip. But people didn't seem bothered by any of this. I guess it's normal, but to me it seemed downright dangerous. Almost everyone in the isle was chatting and laughing, sharing food and earphones, and a girl beside me even made a little friendship bracelet and studied for her drivers test. A group of young men sang songs in Polish the entire time, and the lyrics must have been at least mildly amusing because everyone kept chuckling and shaking their heads, even when they repeated the same songs over again.

I suppose it was a good experience. It seems a bit strange to complain about a train ride from Warsaw to Krakow, but I was really relieved to get off and see the colorful marketplaces and generous green spaces bustling with people just next to the station. Krakow is totally different from Warsaw, and it was like stepping out of a black and white movie and into technicolor. Such a beautiful relief!

I'll post about Krakow next :-)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CouchSurfing is my Philosophy

Look what I woke up to this morning. Anna made plum pastries and ginger hibiscus tea before I even got up at 7:00, with a map of Warsaw and the keys to her apartment on the table alongside them.
This is what is so amazing about CouchSurfing. Not that you get stuff, but that people are capable of giving. I know that a lot of places have very strong guest cultures, where Guest is God, but that's not really what I'm talking about here, because this type of thing happens in America and other places where it's not as common to dote on guests (or they are expected to cater to the host instead). It's not so difficult to do something nice for a stranger and give them some food or a gift to show them they are welcome, but the unexpected is that people give strangers their home, their personality, their habits, and part of their life. That's generosity.
With CouchSurfing, a host is choosing to let someone they don't know get very close to them and then choosing to trust that person as much as they would trust someone they've known for years. It feel amazing to have someone do that for you.
I've known Anna for about 15 hours, and I'm also her first CouchSurfer, so this kind of thing means a lot to me. Just the success of CouchSurfing and the way of interacting with strangers while traveling is the reason I know that people are good. If people were born bad, they wouldn't be getting up at 6:00 to bake plum-filled Postman's Letters and giving their house keys to someone from another country they don't know anything about. No wonder some people think it's crazy.
Although a lot of people who use the CouchSurfing resource cite is as a way to save money, it's usually not the biggest reason they use it. It's a way to test your faith in the human race and make connections with people, even if they don't end up being so great. I think some people who CouchSurf end up spending just as much money on their host as if they had stayed in a hostel or hotel. It's kind of a loose rule for some people, actually. When I hosted, it wasn't free. It costs a decent amount of money to constantly entertain people. Of course that doesn't matter and I never thought about it, but those who haven't experienced CouchSurfing often assume that hosts get paid, otherwise it wouldn't be worth anyone's time. That's also why dedicated members in the community are so upset by the infiltration of freeloaders, who are just using people's homes as a place to crash to avoid spending a lot on their holiday. It's not that they don't deserve it, it's that they don't appreciate the depth and symbolism of it, and you can't make a good connection with someone who doesn't appreciate the world around them.
Working at the hostel was proof that money creates obligation. I don't think any of our guests would ever leave such messes in their own homes, or especially at someone else's home. But as soon as you fork over even the smallest amount of cash, you've bought permission to do whatever you want. Would you leave a bottle of urine in your host's bedroom before leaving? Or rip a curtain rod out of the wall and not say anything? Would you track mud onto the floors and bed and not attempt to clean it? Of course not, that's insane. But since money is involved, it's acceptable. CouchSurfing would never work if there was money involved. So the people who use CouchSurfing as a "free bed" are money-minded people, and I don't think there is room for that in the community.

What I'm trying to say about all of this is that something simple, like a basket of pastries in the morning (ok, maybe pastries aren't so simple!) can do a lot to remind me that people are not just good...they are amazing, because there's nothing I did to Anna to deserve to be treated so well, or to earn her trust. I just showed up.
All of us who can feel emotions, at the bottom, are Good, and we want to be good to each other. This has been proven to me over and over again, and never is it more clear than when I am far away from home and reliant on strangers.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again....CouchSurfing is one of the best things I've ever done with my life. It makes me feel good about the world. It makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to step outside of my comfort zone and redefine it entirely. It makes me want to keep going and going and....have another pastry :-)

Monday, August 8, 2011


Something that is very satisfying for me is adding a new photo folder to my collection. Today was an especially monumental folder-creating day, because I am finally in Poland, after eleven years of wanting to visit.

If you knew me in high school, you might remember attending a Roman Polanski birthday party, or one of my hand-made Myslovitz tank tops, or me driving that gold Toyota Camry around the high school and singing incoherently along to Polish pop songs. Oh! Do you remember that creepy poster of Bo Derek on my bedroom door from the movie "10" where I pasted Polanski's face over hers? Or maybe you blocked that from your memory. They were strange times, and that poster gave my step-mom nightmares.
I'm not sure exactly where the Polish obsession started. It wasn't really something I cried myself to sleep over at night, but it was always in the back of my head that I would like to visit someday, and somehow, I managed not to create any expectations about it. So being here is just totally new for me, and besides the basics, I really don't know what the heck is going on.

But let me backtrack a little bit....
I left Vík in the late morning after saying goodbye to everyone at the hostel. Þráinn was going to Reykjavík anyway, so I managed to catch a lift with him. I always really enjoyed any time that I spent with him, because he's so funny and always has interesting rants, so it was nice to be able to spend a couple of hours with him in the EconoLine chatting, since it was so rare when I was working. Leaving Vík still hasn't really sunk in. I feel a little like I'm either still in Iceland, or am just on a short holiday. When I was getting into the van, I almost cried.

Five months with these awesome people...

After that entire month of rain in Vík, it was a small miracle that Reykjavík was gorgeous. The sun was out, and Laugavegur is mostly closed off to traffic now, so lots of people were enjoying sitting outside on the sidewalks and having coffee or beer. Gulla and I walked around, and she remarked at how much nicer it is, and the atmosphere has completely changed. She's right. It's totally different, and a lot of things have opened up or expanded, so there's a very festive feeling in the air. Of course, this feeling was compounded by the leftovers of the Gay Pride festival the day before, which is the largest event in Iceland.
Gulla was my first Icelandic Couchsurfing host in 2009 and 2010, and she became part of my extended family during my time in Iceland. So it's always really great to catch up with her. We had coffee at her favorite cafe and wood-fired pizza in the evening. It was a perfect last day.
It was cut short, though, because the next day (today) started at 4 in the morning. After creeping out of Gulla's house and hoping I didn't wake anyone, I caught the FlyBus from a nearby hotel and was shuttled off to the airport in Keflavik. I wish I had something interesting to say about the flight, but it was one of the most boring flights I've ever been on, and I couldn't get any sleep in the aisle seat, so it pretty much just sucked. The only thing that was mildly entertaining was some rough turbulence over Warsaw. At one point, the plane dropped, and the entire fuselage probably imploded slightly like a soda can being crushed from the collective gasping. Personally, I kind of enjoy turbulence. I've flown a lot, so it takes a pretty big screw up to rattle me.
I do not, however, enjoy the feeling of being stranded, especially when I am running on very little sleep and completely overwhelmed by a new country. Luck was on my side for a few things. I exchanged some Danish crowns for some złoty, got a Polish SIM card for my phone, and my bag was one of the first to come out in baggage claim. My Couchsurfing host, however, was nowhere to be found. After sending a text to Michal to let him know I landed safely, I had the airport page her and then texted him again to take him up on his offer for help. Just as I was about to give up and start thinking about camping, a lady was standing curiously in front of me with a handmade sign labeled "Bullet".
"Oh! It's you!" I jumped up and we awkwardly switched between starting to shake hands and hug, and finally settled on a hug. I was so glad to see her so I wouldn't have to use any more brain power. There was very little of it left.
My first Couchsurfing host in Warsaw is Anna, and I'm so glad that I picked her for my first experience. She's a wonderful person and a doting host. I am her first Couchsurfer, so I expected her to be a big nervous, but other than being a little frantic about making sure things were perfect, she seemed to relax once she started making borscht.
Oh, did I mention that I didn't eat anything all day except for some yogurt and a couple of chocolates? Well....yeah. When Anna told me she was making soup from scratch, I was both delighted and horrified, because I didn't think I would be able to wait long enough before eating my own hand. Perhaps she sensed this, because I was spared that fate from some homemade garlic-y treats.

The borscht was also not long in the making, and before I knew it, I was stuffed. What a lovely way to be invited into someone's home. A cup of instant coffee also revived me, miraculously, and Anna swept me off on a rainy day bicycle tour of Warsaw.
You probably don't know this, because I don't think I've ever told anyone, but I am afraid of bicycles. I'm not paralyzed by them, but I'm very, very nervous around them, and at one point I thought I wouldn't even ride again. I think it was a combination of incidents, culminating with the death of my friend this May, who was killed in a hit-and-run while riding his bike on the road. But I decided to say "yes" to a bike ride anyway, partly because it seemed stupid to refuse something like that, and also to try to get over my fear.
I have to admit, I almost balked at the whole idea when I was presented with a man's bike, but luckily, the bar wasn't too high and it was actually really comfortable. A bit of a rough start for me as a white-knuckled it through some foot traffic, but Warsaw is an incredibly bike-friendly town, with ample bike lanes and beautiful parks. Even cobblestone wasn't too tricky.
So of course, I ended up having a great time. I saw guys selling beer on the street, a huge fountain, the famous mermaid statue, and tons of old restored buildings. And even though Anna is way faster than I am, by the time we got back to her flat, I felt confident about riding again, and that's what's happening with me right now. Thank you, Warsaw!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Il Pleut

Not so fun fact:
It has been raining for a month.
I'm not even exaggerating. It's been the most depressing weather I've ever endured. And when I say "endure", I mean, completely losing my mind. I've forgotten what colors look like.
Also, because there's no break, it's seeped inside the buildings, so even indoors you cannot escape. Wet towels from the shower will not dry, no matter how long they hang up, and the walls are moist, which makes little rivers in the tile grout. My hair is oddly curly, as well, which might be the only positive thing about this.
The only solace I can take in these sad facts is that the entire country is suffering, and not just the Suðurlands, which is pretty typical. (I might have mentioned before that Vík í Mýrdal translates to "a valley in a wet bay", and it's the wettest part of Iceland.)
Of course, it's expected to finally clear up on Sunday. The day I leave.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Museum Reviews....Skógasafn

Skógar is an area that I hesitate to call a village because it's more like a cluster of tourist services by a big waterfall. Some people live there in farms, but I think the majority of the population are workers at the hotels, museum, and restaurants.
Skógar is the Icelandic word for "forest", and the waterfall there is immensely popular. Like many of the waterfalls in Iceland, this one has a perpetual rainbow, and it's tall, geometric cascade makes it one of the more beautiful of the easily accessible waterfalls in the south. It's impossible to miss it while driving on the main road, and most drivers stop there for a few minutes to get a nice snapshot.

For the more adventurous, Skógar is also the starting point for a popular hike to Þórsmörk. Climb the intimidating staircase to the top of the falls, go over the fence, and follow the path by the river. For about 27km, you can get a good sampling of every type of landscape in Iceland; Surging glacial rivers with impossibly tall prehistoric-looking waterfalls, jagged lava fields, snow, slush and absolute silence at the point where the two glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull shake icy hands, steaming vents left over from the 2010 eruption, marshland, forest, and lush name a few things.

It's pretty intense. But maybe I'll post about it later, since I never did get around to writing about that particular adventure.

Skógar is, of course, home to a museum called Skógasafn. ("Safn" is the Icelandic word for "collection" and is often tacked onto the end of words to describe it as a museum, but it can also be used to describe any type of collection. For example, the word for "library" is "bókasafn", or a "book collection". If you're concerned with pronunciation, the "fn" combination makes a "p" sound. Saying "sap" like from a tree is pretty close.)
Skógasafn is the result of a labor of love by a gentleman named Þórður Tómasson, who has been collecting objects in the area for about sixty years. He's written several history books, as well, which you can purchase at the museum, but they are pretty useless if you don't understand Icelandic.
Entrance fee is 1250ISK for adults, and 1000ISK for students and seniors. Children from 12-15 are 500ISK, and under 12 are free. This includes the transportation museum and settlement area.
If you're lucky, you will be greeted by a young woman named Emma, who gives informative tours of the museum. There are some highlighted pieces, such as the first Bible printed in Icelandic, textiles for the wealthy, a small fishing boat, a terrifyingly large and effective mouse trap, and articles of daily life such as clothing and farm tools. Most of the tour touches on objects that you might otherwise overlook, so if you see a tour group, join up and listen in.
Þórður will also play a spooky rendition of "Clemintine" on a dulcimer-like instrument, and show you the old way to spin wool.

The tour is only about twenty minutes long, and it's a snapshot rush-through that barely touches on what the museum has to offer. It's unfortunate that most people are shuttled immediately out the door and onto other things, because it's easy to spend at least an hour or two inside browsing around. This is especially true for photographers who like to get design-y type shots of little details, patterns, or interesting shapes.
There are a several rooms in the main building that you can explore on your own. Every spare inch of wall space is utilized for display. Glass cases are full of unexplained objects, ranging from small bones to mysterious tools that you may or may not recognize. (Such as a blood lancet left over from the Black Plague era). Or check out the case holding objects used for various spells, like a swan bone used as a straw for a baby to drink his first milk from.
It's interesting to see the ingenuity of the Icelandic people. Since they did mostly without the influence of the rest of the world until the 1940s, they used what meager resources were available, and anything that washed up on the beach was potentially a very valuable addition to the home. Whale bones were used as buckets or window frames. A sheep bladder was used as a barometer. Driftwood was precious stuff, and intricate prayers and poems were carved onto large slats to be used for bed-boards.

There's also an upstairs where you can see a room full of spinning wheels and look down on the fishing boat for a fantastic view. Downstairs is the natural history portion, plus a few other rooms filled with random objects and looking more like unsorted storage. In the biology department, you can make close-up observations on Iceland's birds and mammals, from the inside and out. Everything is well-labeled down here, but it's helpful to have at least some grasp on the Icelandic language to be able to figure it all out.
If you venture back into the furthest corner, there are pull-out trays of insects and books of pressed plants (these are unlabeled).
Depending on your tastes, this is the most interesting area, since there's no explanation for anything, and it feels a bit like you wandered into some forgotten catacomb of the Smithsonian. The dim lighting adds to the effect.

When you've had your fill of the main museum, step outside and follow the paths through the little settlement area, where you can poke your head into different original buildings, including the iconic sod-roof buildings. There's also a church, a school, and examples of 1800s-style homes, like the very first wooden house in Iceland. All filled to the brim with items as if the inhabitants just stepped out for a moment.
This area can also take a good amount of time, too, depending on how voyeuristic you're feeling.

But wait! There's more! During summer hours, there is also a transportation museum, café, and gift shop open in the sleek, modern building next door to the folk museum. Cross a small bridge and you're there. The style is shockingly different, but the warehouse-y looking building is still just as chock-full of artifacts and curiosities as the main building.
During our visit, we saved the café for last, but it might be clever to stop and have a coffee to regroup before starting the tour through the transportation museum. I recommend having a kleina with your coffee. They are similar to a donut, slightly sweet and dry except for their oily sheen. But the café also offers sandwiches and soup at very good prices. Take note of the airplane hanging overhead, marked with the slogan "Mjólk er Góð!" (Milk is Good!)

A transportation museum may sound a little dull, but it is not to be missed. Even if technology and machines aren't your thing, it's easy for anyone to appreciate the beauty of the modified antique cars equipped like a tank with sleds and snow chains. You can also follow the advancement of modernization in Iceland, from the horseback riding postman, to telephone poles, and an area full of squawking CB radios, to the pride of Iceland; Slysavarnafélagið Landsbjörg (Search and Rescue Team).

Skógasafn is ideally a half-day activity, especially when you include the waterfall. Take your time when you visit, and try not to blow through it. It can be overwhelming, but even people who generally dislike museums will be entertained by all of the variety and mystery. Children will also enjoy running around and exploring the collection of houses. On a sunny day, the grassy areas are perfect for a picnic, too. The staff is also very knowledgeable and happy to answer any questions you may have.
This is my favorite museum in Iceland. I've visited it twice and each time found about a thousand more things to marvel at. It's a definite "must see".