off the beaten path.


Traveling is important, because when we do, we’re able to de-stress, discover new things, meet people and gain stories worth telling. One man who visited West Iceland was so grateful to his hosts that he decided to send them a letter when he reached Reykjavik, the country’s capital. But there was a problem: he didn’t know his hosts’ address. However, he did remember where they lived. So instead of never sending the letter, the tourist instead draws a map on the envelope. He wrote:

“Country: Iceland.
City: Búðardalur.
Name: A horse farm with an Icelandic/Danish couple and three kids and a lot of sheep!”

He also thoughtfully added that “the Danish woman works in a supermarket in Búðardalur”. Judging by the amount of details the tourist wrote on the envelope, they really wanted the farm owners to get the letter. And to everyone’s surprise, the letter did make it, despite its lack of traditional postal information. This proves that even though things have definitely become more modern, Iceland’s local postal service still know their territory by heart.

Rebecca Cathrine Kaadu Ostenfeld was stunned when the postman handed it to her. It goes without saying that receiving a letter from someone is a touching experience. Their home was indicated on the map with a glaring red dot, after all. But it seems that the letter’s successful delivery was brought about because of the farm’s fame.

The humble “horse farm” that the tourist had described on the envelope, was in fact somewhat of a tourist attraction in Hvammsveit, West Iceland. It’s quite famous for its ‘mini zoo’ where guests can pet their resident horses, goats, sheep, pigs and other animals. And it seems that this particular guest had such a great time that he couldn’t help but show his appreciation long after he’d left! The Hólar family’s farm does have an address listed online (But if you click on it, the link will redirect you to the middle of a lake! So maybe that’s why their tourist had trouble writing down a proper postal address and his map was more accurate than Google.)

“people tend to want to follow the beaten path.

the difficulty is that the beaten path doesn’t seem to be leading anywhere.”

-charles mathias




credits: awesome inventions


76 responses »

  1. A great story about a very enterprising letter writer, Beth … Iceland is a very interesting and they have more than their fair share of talented musicians … “Sigur Ros” is a fav of mine …


  2. Haha, we visited Iceland last summer, also the western part. I am convinced that a letter with a map like this instead of an address works in Iceland. There are only a few asphalt streets and some more offroad paths. So, yes, I am not surprised the card arrived 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an awesome story! I happen to believe in “snail mail” and send cards/letters all the time. One of these days I might try using a map like this for the address. I have a feeling the US postal service won’t be as flexible as the Iceland PO.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great story about a dedicated Post Office. It reminds me of a friend who met a girl on holiday in France in 1967 when we were teenagers. He never gave her his address, but he did have a fairly unusual surname, and she knew he was from London. So almost a year later he was amazed to receive a letter addressed to,
    ‘Steve Strickett
    London had a population of 7,700,000 at the time.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a wonderful story! I have on my table here a postcard from the old man in Seattle with whom I’m penpals. Somewhere along the way it got ripped in three the long ways. It arrived taped together with a handwritten note of apology from the Post Office somewhere along the way. For some reason that’s one of the sweetest things to show up in my mailbox.


  6. Isn’t that the sweetest story?! I am one who always decorates the envelope with silly drawings and stuff. Ppl love it – when my mum died, I got asked if it was me who did all those envelopes drawings I sent her during the pandemic…. they were missing them after my mother died!
    But this is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s a fantastic story.
    Of course, this could never happen in India. Even with a precise address, there would be about 623 people living in it. The best way to reach someone in India is to holler your message into a loudspeaker in the general direction, and hope that the recipient heard it. Along with 622 others.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I was very young, some people made a hobby of addressing letters in riddles. I remember seeing envelopes that made it to Beer City, Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and one with a hand drawn pine tree and cliff for Pine Bluff in a letter sent to Arkansas.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beth, I absolutely love this story. One of my former students went to Iceland last summer, and he loved it. I will tell him about this letter. He will probably smile, knowingly, and tell me (once again) how wonderful the people are in Iceland.

    Liked by 1 person

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