6:10am and the lazy sun has yet clambered to its zenith. Haukur “Hawk” Thorsteinsson is already up. He downs the famed Icelandic hotdog — his sustenance that fuels him for a nine-hour day of adventure — and washes it down with a glass of water straight from the tap.
He tends to his tawny, jaw-framing beard. So luscious and conspicuous the beard is that it has been a part of his identity for 20 years. “I’ve been growing it on and off since I was 15 years old, and it was around then I got the nickname ‘Hawk the Beard’. It is very wild, and it takes some time to tame it in the morning. Between that and my handsome mustache… it’s a 10-minute routine.”
Almost a necessity that supplants a scarf in Iceland’s frigid weather, Hawk’s beard recalls the stout Vikings of yore. Icelanders are no stranger to Nordic mythologies, and many grow up hearkening to sagas of valour. “I am especially intrigued by the way Master JRR Tolkien connects the Nordic mythologies with his own stories.” Hawk’s obsession du jour is Grettir the Strong, honoured in legacy as one of the strongest Vikings that ever lived. Such stories the 35-year-old tour guide enthusiastically regales his passengers with.