General Notes for Travellers to Iceland

Point one is if you don’t love it you’re mad!

That done, the most important thing for me is the hot pots. When the crew at Saltvik were talking about them I had no clue what they were on about. A pot that is hot? Dinner? Then I experienced it. It’s a geothermal water spa-with-no-bubbles. Bliss. In Saltvik and the north, the water was slightly sulphurous, those in the south didn’t have any smell and no affect on my silver. Amazing, any time, any day, if it hot its on. Do check the temperature though, some are very hot.

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Silver and sulphur don’t mix. Well they do, and sulphur reacts with the silver turning it a black colour. Turns out I should have paid more attention in chemistry. I’m sure the wide world of Google will give me pointers for fixing it when I get home. Though it makes for a nice reminder of Iceland.

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The notable thing about all the places I’ve stayed is the pillows. They are all feather pillows. They look lovely and fluffy until you put your head on them and then they may as well not be there. Remember to ask for a second if you like a high pillow or sleep on your side, or fold a towel up under the pillow if you don’t mind firm.

The drinking water here is amazing. There is no other word for it. They don’t treat it they just pull it out of the ground and use it. Elsa was very protective of her water. I think she would have bopped you comic book style *BAM* if you dared to insult it. It came directly from a mysterious spring behind the farm. It was yummy. Until someone didn’t run the cold water before filling the jug. It then smelt slightly sulphurous and Elsa had to go change it. She checked each jug 🙂

The hot water was variable. Through the south and east it seems to be heated and not straight from the ground. In Reykjavik and the north it is straight from the bores and toasty warm, but also has the slight sulphurous smell, most notably when showering.

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Showering was different too. The shower taps are different to home. On the right hand knob you choose your temperature. If you want more than 38 degrees then you have to press the button in. Incidentally I seem to like about 40 degrees. The left tap is the pressure selection. Maybe it’s a European thing, but it is different for me.

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Fields are quite different. The amount of water means they cut trenches one metre plus deep to drain the water. Then I guess they plough the living daylights out of it then start planting.

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The wind here is all pervasive and cold. All the time. Bloody freezing. Even when the google weather man said there won’t be wind, there will be. Lots of cold wind. I’m loving this scarf thing from Elsa at Saltvik, it is the perfect amount of ear covering and not too hot. Horrible selfie to demonstrate.

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For Aussies, driving can be a challenge as it is the other side of the road. In my sample space of three, it is worse for Aussie men. Driving on the other side of the road is interesting. The first hour a challenge, the first few roundabouts tricksy. But for me I adjusted quite fast and it wasn’t bad at all.
This sign says so much, curvy road plus hill you can’t see over plus gravel. Very common. You know it is serious when it also suggests 30km.

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Refuelling was a different experience for me. It is all automated. If you don’t have a credit or debit card, don’t come here. You couldn’t pay cash for fuel in Iceland if you wanted to. Simple but effective system: put in your card; put in the pin; give it an upper limit spend; tell it which pump; then off you go. Great for when the shop is closed and remote areas with no shop.

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Icelandic time is a concept similar to tropical time. There is little punctuality. Breakfast about 0730 means then or anytime about thirty minutes later.

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The place is full of black sand. I saw a little pic of a kid doing long jump at a competition, into black sand. So different. The south western peak of the Westfjörds has variable yellow to red sand, oddly enough. Something about iron in the rock.

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The Icelanders have developed an amazing cheese, Skyr. Ok, it’s more like a greek yoghurt, but I’m told that it is made using a process more similar to cheese so is technically a cheese. Nil complaints from me, I loved it! Australia doesn’t seem to sell it, but the USA does.

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I’m not sure if it it just the hotels, but everywhere has butter milk. Thicker and slightly sour it is great. Of course the name sounds scary, like you’re having heaps of fat, but google assures me that in fact butter milk is very similar to regular milk. Very interesting…might be getting onto that one.

Golf must be a big pastime. I counted 59 golf courses on the map. That seems to be one for every 5700 people (ish). Given only a few months of the year you’d see grass that’s a huge number!

Churches, the map shows 223. It shows none in any of the towns and one near Reykholt, where there are two. Reykjavik has at least three, none shown on the map. So I’ll round up to a very conservative 300 churches in Iceland. That’s one for every 1130 people.

Swimming pools are also huge here. You have the natural hot pots all over the place, but it is also swimming pools. Most also have an outdoor hot pot. The sign at the pool in Reykjavik said there are 170 pools in Iceland. More popular than golf! Of course they’re all heated, but many also have slides. Win.

Finally, if you can take a bad photo of Iceland could you send it my way? I don’t believe it is possible, every photo, all the time, stunning.

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