“Fasten seat belt while seated.
Use bottom cushion for flotation.”
I noticed these few innocent words staring me in the face the entire plane ride to Iceland. Hmm, really? I couldn’t help but laugh at the tense of the second sentence and how these two sentences were used together. I mean, to fasten a seat belt is a given, but maybe adding the words, “In case of emergency…” at the beginning of the second sentence would make more sense, not to mention make people feel a little more safe on the plane– after all it isn’t a guarantee that you’ll need that extra flotation. However, reading it in this way was an interesting perspective to be put it, especially for someone who had to fly over the Atlantic Ocean twice just to arrive (due to flight delays, missing of flights, etc, I got to fly to London first).
As the plane begins to descend to Keflavik International Airport, the landscape out of the the window can only be described as: “Wait, what…the…%$#&?” You look outside and see literally zero vegetation (well, on the opposite side of a few hills I saw a couple pine trees that looked about four feet tall), hundreds of miles of jagged black volcanic rock sticking out of the white snow, and giant mountains looming in the distance. The terrain literally looks as if it would be impossible to hike over, and it is simple to see how Icelanders believe that “little people” (trolls, elves, etc) dwell among these rock formations. The perfect description of the scenery: picture a movie that depicts landing on Mars, take those rocks and turn them from red to black, then take that image and put it on the moon.
After just five hours in Iceland, here are a few essential rules that I have already learned:
- You will be confused – The Icelandic language is nearly impossible to understand, and signs in airports are not very helpful. When you are told to get on the bus, take your pick at choosing from 7 different buses waiting outside. However, thankfully Icelanders speak wonderful English (100x better than probably most Americans).
- Just go with the flow – These two go hand-in-hand. When you get on the wrong bus from the airport, don’t worry, there aren’t too many places you could wind up. I wasn’t planning on doing this until the end of my trip, but because I got on the wrong bus I got to spend an hour and a half at the famous Blue Lagoon before heading to my hotel to check-in. (More on Blue Lagoon to come)
- Be prepared to spend money – Whatever website told me that Iceland is cheap should be shut-down permanently. Tonight, dinner cost me 5.500,00 IK or about $48. That being said, this was considered a medium-line restaurant, and I got a full meal– lamb dinner, large glass of Icelandic beer, hot chocolate cake, and a “cup” of coffee, (where “cup” = giant freshly brewed coffee thermos, approximately four cups worth). So far, the food in Iceland is completely out of this world, but, then again, everyone knows the lamb in Iceland is amazing.
- Be prepared for all sorts of weather – In just five hours the weather has turned from cloudy to partly sunny, to snowing, to raining, to sleeting and hailing, and back to cloudy. However, it actually isn’t as cold as I thought it would be, especially after seeing the environment I was about to land in from the aircraft.
- Learn to love the smell of sulfur – Yup, they aren’t kidding when they say that your shower water smells like sulfur. That’s because all Icelandic water is pumped right out of the geothermic springs.
So far Iceland is the most bizarre place I have ever been, but also one of the most intriguing. The food is great, the beer is good, most of the people are friendly, and the city doesn’t seem to be too hectic. I’m going to love it here for sure.
A few more interesting facts about Iceland that I’ve learned since arriving:
- Nearly every Icelander believes in the existence of elves and trolls and they call them the “little people.” After canceling the construction of a building due to the “random” failure of equipment, the head construction engineer told reporters: “Tomorrow we are going to see if we can come to some sort of agreement with the elves.”
- Every Icelander can trace their heritage back to the original Viking settler.
- The Icelandic language has barely changed since the Vikings first settled the country so most Icelanders can read the old texts.
- 30% of the population has a university degree.
Unfortunately that’s all I have for you today. Due to my flights being rerouted, I ended up landing here for 5:00pm instead of 6:30 am, so I wasn’t able to walk around to photograph the city today. I will leave you with one photo of part to the world-famous Blue Lagoon though, as a taste of what’s to come…
Tomorrow: Eyjafjallajökull volcano climb.
Comming soon: Blue Lagoon