Iceland is an amazing country. The physical landscape is like no where else I’ve ever been. The old lava flow landscape looks like an other-worldly alien landscape. The mountains and glaciers appear out of the fog as these impossibly imposing edifices. On some of the shuttle trips that took us out into the desolate lava fields beyond Reykjavik, you could see a single old house or barn sitting in the middle of miles upon miles of empty harsh terrain. There are amazing photo opportunities, if only you have the right vehicle. If I lived here, I’d absolutely be one of the people who has the large jeep/truck on the giant off-road tires and lift-kit.
The weather is equally different from anything I’ve seen. It will go from sunny and warm-ish, to windy, to rainy, to snowy, to hail, to sun, in under an hour. And I don’t mean a few small hail balls, or a few flakes of snow. I’m talking about a heavy New England snowstorm, lasting only 20 minutes, or paint scouring hail pounding down for 15 minutes. And then it clears, for a while, as if it hadn’t happened.
It’s MUCH colder than Boston is at this time of year. I’m not sure if it is a cold, long, winter here, or if it’s normally this much colder than Boston (I had heard they were similar climates). We all have good gear, but it’s still quite bracing, especially when the wind picks up.
The people all speak English, which is great for the language disabled, like myself. Everyone has been friendly and helpful. People are also extremely fit compared to the USA. People walk a lot, and apparently it’s normal to go swimming at the Olympic swimming pools before work every day, and to swim again with your family in the evening before bed. Many families also own and frequently ride Icelandic horses. Judging from the amount of outdoor-wear stores, I think the stereotypical image of the Icelanders spending the weekends climbing glaciers and fishing during winter storms can’t be too wrong. The local cold weather gear company, 66 degrees North, puts NorthFace to shame as far as engineering and construction quality goes. If I every take up cold weather hiking, or something similar, I will be ordering my gear from them.
The children are very well behaved, compared to your average American children. I’m not a parent, so I feel hesitant about criticizing how people parent their children, but most parents in the USA could, and should, take lessons from the Icelandic parents.
There are also some very beautiful people here. It’s not a land of super models, but pretty often the combination of very physically fit, the Nordic cheekbone, and the striking pale blonde hair, makes for a stunningly beautiful individual. This applies to both men and women.
The combination of the beautiful people and the alien landscape makes the photographer in me want to plan another trip to shoot a calendar or photo series.
The traditional Icelandic food is pretty scary, to me at least, and consist of things like singed sheep head, and rotten shark meat. However, it seems I’m not the only person in Reykjavik who feels this way, as foreign cuisine restaurants out number traditional Icelandic fare, about ten to one.
Given the large amount of uninhabited land, combined with the financial crisis Iceland is undergoing, I have to wonder how much a house or condo in Reykjavik costs, and how much it would cost to buy up 100 acres of lava field 50 km outside of the city. Anyone know?