I’ve been to Iceland twice—in 2001 and 2013—and I hope to go again. People don’t have any concept of what the country is like. One hears the old chestnut that “Iceland should be called Greenland and vice versa.” With global warming, I suspect that both countries will in future be free of most ice. Below are a few highlights if you are thinking of visiting my favorite country in Europe:
- Fish is always the cheapest and most interesting thing on the menu, and you’re never far from the ship that brought it to port.
- If You Don’t Like Fish, don’t worry. Icelanders eat tons of hamburgers, hot dogs (which they call pylsur), and pizza.
- The Interior of the Country is a picturesque and mostly uninhabited wasteland.
- Icelandic Sagas from the 12-13th centuries A.D. are the best things to read, followed by the novels of 1955 Nobel prizewinner Halldor Laxness.
- Islands off the coast of Iceland make great destinations, particularly Heimaey and Flatey. The first had a famous volcanic eruption in the 1970s, and the second was the site of a medieval monastery.
- English is the Second Language of most Icelanders under the age of 70, so communication is no problem.
- Iceland Is Expensive, particularly if you want to rent a car. Not to worry, there’s good long distance buses.
- Waterfalls and Rainbows are everywhere, making it the most scenic country in Europe—if it can be said to be part of Europe.
- Volcanoes are all over the place, and many of them are active. Don’t be surprised if you see one erupting during your trip.
- Reykjavík contains half the population of Iceland, yet it’s small and quite walkable (if the weather isn’t foul).
- The Westfjords are a bit out of the way, but shouldn’t be missed. Great hiking and incredible coastline views.
- Northern Lights can be seen in the winter, but you can’t be 100% sure of a sighting.
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