2 weeks ago
Sunday, May 18, 2008
When my Sweetie and I were last in Iceland *March 2008* we were walking around downtown Reykjavik down by the City Center, I saw this sign and of course, because of what I thought was a raven (it has crossed-out eyes and I think looks knocked out drunk) I had to take the picture. Here in retrospect is some information about the sign, of which I was very curious about. Unfortunately it was closed. Maybe the next time we are there, we will drop in when it is open for business.
Gaukur - Cuckoo
Stöng - Bar
Five young men just returning from studies in Germany had the idea of opening Iceland's first authentic pub. It was the first real pub in Iceland, but at that time beer drinking was illegal in Iceland and instead people out on the nightlife drank a drink called "bjórlíki" (artificial beer) a thrilling mixture of Vodka and Pilsner (which is the Icelandic word for non alcoholic beer).
Imitation beer became an instant sensation, and other pubs cropped up like mushrooms in midtown Reykjavik as well as others parts of the country. On March 1, 1989 the ban on beer was lifted. Imitation beer was launched, and Iceland's first local pub became a reality.
With time the place has become the cornerstone of Icelandic music- and nightlife, most of Iceland's most popular bands played their first gig at Gaukur á Stöng and many of Iceland's finest party animals have spent their leisure time there and still do.
According to one account, the pub was named Gaukur á Stöng after Gaukur Trandilsson from Stöng in Þjórsárdalur valley. There was a ancient Saga written about him but it has long since been lost. Only his name remains, which point to the likelihood that he and the house wife on the nearby farm of Steinastöðum were lovers.
Stöng was abandoned, as were others farms in Þjórsárdalur, after Mt. Hekla erupted in 1104. Many interesting artifacts were discovered when the farm was excavated by archaeologists in 1939. The farm was used as the model for the Independence Day farm, raised in Þjórsárdalur in 1974 on the 1100th anniversary of the Settlement of Iceland.
On the lower section of Þjórsárdalur, juts Gaukshöfði promontory into the Þjórsár River. In the 19th century spear heads and human bones were found under the promontory, and speculation was that they were the remains of Gaukur Trandilsson.
The building that houses Gaukur á Stöng was raised in 1924 by the fishing company H.F. Sleipnir and the land was owned by harbour fund. The building was described at the time as being built out of bricks and cinder blocks with a corrugated roof.