First off…you must come to Iceland…this is a rare place that has wonderful adventures, even for those who are less adventurous.
This has truly been a special trip…it offered everything from a fun time in Reykjavik, with great food and museums and wonderful places to explore…good shopping, except I lack that gene so I am not a good judge…to an scenic adventure peppered with topographal mysteries.
AND then when you leave the city behind, you really are out in the wilderness… Iceland’s wilderness is ever changing and quite distinct. It can change in a blink of the eye or stay the same for miles and miles
You have the unique hot springs to the volcanic forests to the black sands that go for miles and miles…or rather Kilometers and Kilometers…yes, this trip has definitely helped me with my metric Conversion AND Military time…seems it all runs on that…Now I can do the Camera Department’s time cards without having to add or subtract!
Iceland is isolated by virtue of it’s location…this has allowed it to become a very self sufficient nation…but in that, they are also very international…which is fascinating…you would think that they would stay to themselves…but just the opposite…everyone speaks perfect English, which makes traveling around quite easy for Americans…the surprising thing is how few Americans are here compared to the Germans and French…
Iceland did not join the EU and is very adamant to not join…basically they don’t want to give up the rights to their natural resources, especially their fisheries and water…mark my words, one day in the future, Iceland, because they didn’t sellout to make a buck or Krona, will be the country people turn to for water…and then they can ask any price…Iceland has also been refusing China’s push to build a huge development in the West…The Chinese have been trying for 2 years…offering all sorts of money…keep in mind, Iceland had a major collapse of their banking system in 2008 right before ours…so they could always use the infusion of capital BUT they will not sellout…because it would take away from the natural beauty…I so admire them for this…especially coming from Florida, where we sell off anything for a dime…These guys are fiercely independent but understand they need to work together, regardless of political affiliation, to get things done…this is why they have such a great infrastructure, even during the downturn…their economy has come back because the Government kept building and shoring up their roads…it created jobs and added tax revenue…smart smart smart…but to be fair, they are only a country of 300,000…it’s easier to wrangle 300k cats vs 300 million! (-:
The only real animal that is hunted here is reindeer…their population grows like rabbits…when the hunting season starts, you pay a fee and must go out with a guide…who ensures you kill the reindeer in a certain way…they want it quick and immediate. Reindeer beef is amazing…really good. They have foxes here…Mink, mice and of course the lovable and tasty Sheep (-: and their special Icelandic Horses…These horses are short and stout…very very sturdy…not prone to injury…and have 5 gaits…and until my last day, I was unaware the Icelanders(like the French)also imbibed them! yikes.
As I mentioned before, there are babies everywhere…this is a very family oriented country…and their animals are also quite prolific in their baby making skills…I spent some time watching baby sheep nursing…a baby horse struggling to get up with a mothers nose edging it on it’s feet…and even baby ducks…I have not seen and pigs but am told they are here…and all inside…some chickens crossed my path but high tailed it away from me as soon as I took my camera out…just like those darn Puffins!
On the West Coast, most of the food you get is home grown or local…I ate on farms, where the cheese and all dairy came from their cows I watched while noshing on some lovely soup…everything up there is made from scratch…no processed food in restaurants….in winter they do their growing in greenhouses…I was pleasantly surprised to learn they do grow their own lettuce, tomato and peppers…I knew about carrots and potatoes…But I am told, this is why food is so expensive…there is a dispute about imports…the EU wants Iceland to import meats but the Icelanders are afraid of disease…although some Icelanders would like to get imports because those meats are much cheaper…One woman told me the farmers are the reason why there are no imports but another man said it was about diseases…I see a political rift in those 2 people’s perspectives…and there are rifts but not like ours…here, they are far more civil both in their politics and their people…respect seems to be important here…
Fueling stations require you to buy a card for a specific amount and then use it at the pump OR use a debit card…In Reykjavik some man came over to help and I discovered that he wasn’t just some nice man helping a poor tourist…but that this was a full service station…which is common in Reykjavik…i could have used his help when I first filled my tank in Vik!
They say this summer is quite unusual and that it is usually warmer…and sunnier…Climate Change at work…although, it worked in my favor this year because I really did want the Arctic experience…and I got it many times in the North and West…
I wish the east had been clearer but the fog did give it an ambiance that made the “other worldness” feel even more so…
Bathroom facilities…in the east…be prepared to get creative…I used the fog to my advantage on many an occasion (-; The West is much more geared to tourists…
Lots and lots of Ice Cream…and as much as I love the stuff, I only had it a couple of times…too cold…but people were walking everywhere licking those lovely cones….did I mention how Icelanders are hardy people!
Driving on the Ring Road, I tried to listen to the local music, only to find that Icelanders love to talk…I have no idea what they are saying but they seem to chat more than play music…but the times I did get some stations, I heard everything from Icelandic Country to Icelandic Blues…both were great…they also love Old Blue Eyes here…Frank Sinatra was all over the staions in the north and west…Swing and jazz are very popular as all American Rock classics of the 60’s & 70’s seem to be…But I had my trusty 5 CD’s that kept me well tuned during those dry spells…
Tons of people Biking…Cycling…amazing…they would be completely weighted down pushing up a hill in the fog and rain…or on the gravel roads…I was really impressed…also motorcycling is popular too…this is a great country for it…open roads and little traffic…another way people travel is in these small motorhomes…lots of camp grounds…seems to be a cheap alternative to the guest houses…all the hostels and guest houses were fabulous…the shared facilities was a breeze…I think traveling in June is good because the season hasn’t cranked up so the places aren’t over crowded…
Iceland has great tourism but it’s basic and simple…I really hope they keep it this way…it’s perfect. There are no fast food places, except the Gas Stations…all of them have restaurants…burgers & sandwiches…good food and a bit cheaper than the cafes…unless you do what I did and focus on the soups…which were incredible…and filling
There is plenty for Vegetarians but not vegans or lactose intolerant people…they love their dairy here…and it is certainly worth loving…they make their own bread for the most part and as I mentioned before all is fresh…No preservatives and certainly no GMOs
It is warm inside everywhere…their Geo Thermal electricity is amazing…and little wait time for hot water…sometimes it has a sulfur smell but it goes away…and the cold water is ice cold and you can drink it from any tap…cleaner than our bottled water…
Icelanders are amazingly welcoming and really really want you to be happy. When I left my computer at that Guest House, the Proprietor went out of his way to get it to me quickly…and when I told him I wanted him to charge me a fee for his services, he just asked me to donate to Iceland’s Cancer Society.
This is a very windy country…except in the caves…then it’s just cold!
I love this place and can’t speak highly enough of the people and the scenery…in one day you will see a variety of topography…most of which is unique to here…and you’ll meet just the most inviting and wonderful people…and those who do travel here are just as open as the locals…really really fun place to explore…I hope that you get a chance for a visit…even if for a short stay…
Now it’s off to Greenland!
6 thoughts on “Last Impressions of Iceland”
Amazing stories Emily. Thank you for sharing them. I have looked forward to each days installment. Yesterday I had three since I couldn’t read them over the weekend. I am not much for a winter wonderland, and growing up with you not sure where you got it from! But I now know that Iceland is a place worth visiting, from another Floridians point of view :). Thank you. Be safe and can’t wait to hear about Greenland. I hear they have a lot of ice.
Glad my adventures have possibly inspired you for a visit…well worth it AND not always this cold…this year seems to be a bit of an anomaly (-:
Did you get a sweater?
No sweater…it was too big for my small packs…and really too heavy for my needs in Florida…But I did get a wool Head band…i hate hates so this is great….and small (-:
You could have a second career as a Travel columnist! It’s always nice to have a backup!
I wish I could do it…but something tells me the competition is quite stiff…and always looking for a backup! Lol but I do enjoy hearing that people like it…and I love that some people get inspired to travel…I do this for the armchair traveler who can’t do it and for those who have trepidation and would if they could get over the fear. (-: