Sunday, August 19, 2012

Iceland—So Many Questions...

After our return from Iceland, I have been fascinated with all the questions that we have received relating to that interesting country. I am by no means an expert, having only scratched the surface of the island. So, with apologies to the Icelandic people, I am going to do my best to answer the questions that I have received:

Iceland? Why Iceland?
True story… upon my return from France in December 2011, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to return there in 2012 to show him the areas that I had found so extraordinary. He responded that we needed to take a less expensive vacation this year to offset the more costly trip that we took last year to California.  With that in mind, I suggested that we go to the beach in North or South Carolina, or to some other beach location not too far from home. I have mentioned before that my husband can’t seem to sit still. I think that the idea of a beach vacation gives him hives. I, on the other hand, grew up on beach vacations, and have missed them. Long story short, he looked at the beach idea for a millisecond and decided that it would be better if we went to Massachusetts (where we have dear friends) instead. I recognize that there is no logic there, but I complied. Two weeks later, he came home and asked if I would prefer Massachusetts or Iceland. I guess I don’t need to say what my answer was. I didn’t ask until two weeks before our departure what prompted this sea change from Massachusetts to Iceland! I was concerned that he would alter his thinking and suggest Massachusetts again. When I did ask, he said that he wasn’t getting any younger and wanted to start chipping away at his bucket-list with regard to vacations. I am thrilled with this idea and reaped the benefits!

Vatnajokull Glacier—the largest glacier in Iceland

How big is Iceland?
Iceland is about the size of Virginia and West Virginia combined or a bit larger than the State of Ohio. We drove all the way around the island mostly on what is referred to as the Ring Road. With side trips, we drove over 1,000 miles in ten days. There are few roads into the interior of the island, and no roads that are passable (across the interior) without a four-wheel drive vehicle.

What is the summer weather like there?
It is generally in the 50’s or 60’s and rain can be very common. We packed all kinds of raingear, which perhaps kept the rain at bay. We were so fortunate with the weather since we only had one full day of rain. Most of the time, the sun was bright and the sky was blue. In fact the sky really is bluer there because of a lack of pollution. Much of the land can appear to be very desolate, but where there is greenery, it truly is greener. This is because the short growing season necessitates more efficient storage of chlorophyll. It is often windy, which provided no end to bad hair experiences! The sun doesn’t set until after midnight and it is bright by 4:30 am. This sunshine gives people plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, and gives farmers three crops of hay during the summer.
Bright sunshine and the town of Seydisfjordur in the background
Dressed for the chill at the glacial lagoon

What is the Icelandic currency?
The Icelandic krona

Are the people friendly?
The Icelandic people could not have been more courteous and kind. We had a wonderful time conversing with people. With the exception of two older women in a tiny, tiny town, everyone spoke English well, which is a godsend since Icelandic is VERY difficult. In fact, Icelandic is very similar to Old Norse. The school children have little difficulty reading the Icelandic Sagas, which were written several centuries before Shakespeare’s writings. They are very proud of their written heritage and boast of a 100% literacy rate. Sculptures of authors and poets are found throughout the country.

Trolls are big in Iceland. The people are less imposing and more friendly.
 When do the people learn English?
When I posed this question, I was told that they start learning in school around the age of 10, but that American movies, video games, music and television broadcasts enhance their learning and make it very easy for them.

Is Iceland modern?
There was no time in our stay that we didn’t have internet access. Iceland is quite modern, just sparsely populated.

Is it expensive there?
WOW!! Is it ever!! There are no bargains to be had in Iceland. Part of the reason for the expense is that so much has to be imported. I bought an apple at the grocery and noticed that the label indicated that the fruit was from Argentina. The apple traveled farther than I did.

And… finally… did you like it?
ABSOLUTELY! No disrespect to Massachusetts, but Iceland was just completely fascinating. I couldn't help but be inspired by the landscape to return to my easel with new ideas!

Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe


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  2. Lynn, Your pictures are fabulous and your recap of the conversation with Gil made me LOL (really loud). Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks, Melisha! Glad that my conversation with Gil made you laugh. He's a funny one!