The hilarious Youtube video ´Iceland Windy Beverage´ has racked up well over 800 thousand views. It features a guy called Mark Tretter who tries to drink from a bottle of water in a good old Icelandic gale force wind. We managed a get a hold of Mark and convinced him to answer a few questions and share a few pictures with us (as it turns out, he is quite a good photographer!).

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Hello Mark and thanks for agreeing to the interview, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Sure, I am a science teacher at the Stevenson School (boarding school) in Pebble Beach, California, and I’ve been a teacher for over 25 years. Specifically, I teach Earth Science and Chemistry. I’m an amateur landscape photographer, and love travelling to capture amazing landscapes. I’ve made it to 6 continents (Australia is the last hold-out). My hobbies include golf and tennis, hiking, outdoors and cooking.

When did you come to Iceland and what made you decide to come here?

I had been to Iceland once before, about 10 years ago. I was amazed by the raw and beautiful landscape, and I needed to come back (and I will again!). A wonderful tour company called Wild Photography Holidays had an itinerary that appealed, particularly because of the emphasis on photographing ice (and the aurora!) Jokulsarlon is one of the prettiest spots on Earth, and I knew I would also get chances to photograph some other great scenes. It didn’t disappoint.

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon.
Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon.

Who got the idea of creating this video and how did come about?

My idea. I was staying at the fantastic hotel in Budir when we were hit by a significant wind storm, estimated at 30 m/sec. I ventured into the wind, and it ripped my eyeglasses off my face and they went bounding into the lava field behind, forever lost. I then had a recollection of a video clip I saw decades ago of a couple being served breakfast on the observation deck atop Mount Washington in New Hampshire, USA (the windiest locale on Earth). The waiter would put a piece of toast on their plate, and off it went into the wind. Then he poured some juice into the glass, and not a drop landed in it. Very funny. So I thought I’d try something similar just to be a little goofy.

The Church at Budir rotating a bit!
The Church at Budir rotating a bit!

What were your favourite places to see and things to do during your stay here in Iceland?

Jokulsarlon, the nearby black sand beach with stranded icebergs (amazing!) another nearby glacial lagoon, and an ice cave. Driving around, venturing off the beaten path (Landmannalaugar!) — just fantastic and other-worldly- and I love doing landscape photography here.

An Icelandic Beach!
An Icelandic Beach!

Anything you disliked here?

Many hotel rooms are a little cramped, but I’m not complaining. Beer is too expensive!! 🙂

What advice would you give to those who are visiting Iceland for the first time (a part from being ready for hurricane like conditions)?

Visiting all the places I mentioned before, and a few others, like the geothermal area of Myvatn, and not to miss the architecture of the new concert hall in Reykjavik. Definitely I would warn them to have good rain gear, too. Perhaps I would suggest they go close to the equinoxes in March and September for the best chances to see the aurora, while still having a good number of daylight hours. Most importantly, I would try to get them into the frame of mind to enjoy a sparsely populated island and embrace the sense of solitude that can be had as one travels through the countryside.

Would you consider coming back to Iceland?

Absolutely. There will be a high school energy conference / summit offered through EF tours next March, so I hope to bring some students to that conference and also explore the island with them a little. I love ice and icebergs enough that I have this little notion that I would like to produce a photography book on that subject, and so that might even require a few trips!


And finally, here is the video!