1. FRIENDLY LOCALS.
What truly makes any vacation stand out are the locals you meet at each destination. While it would take way too long to list all the people that stood out, this is an excerpt from my travel journal to Iceland, and our stay on Grimsey Island. “I was the first off the plane, and I walked down the stairs and was greeted by Gagga who welcomed Bruce and me to Grimsey and told us to head next door to the guesthouse and make ourselves comfortable, as she would be over after she finished helping unload the plane…”
1. FRIENDLY LOCALS.
What truly makes any vacation stand out are the locals you meet at each destination. While it would take way too long to list all the people that stood out, this is an excerpt from my travel journal to Iceland, and our stay on Grimsey Island.
“I was the first off the plane, and I walked down the stairs and was greeted by Gagga who welcomed Bruce and me to Grimsey and told us to head next door to the guesthouse and make ourselves comfortable, as she would be over after she finished helping unload the plane. Small town doesn’t even begin to describe it. Besides running the guesthouse, and working as ground crew at the airport beside it, she also is the town bank, runs cards night for the locals at the community centre, and no doubt a number of other jobs as required. She asked if we brought food to make dinner, or if we wanted to buy groceries, the store on the island was open from 3pm until 5pm. But as an alternative, she asked if we wanted to join her and her family for dinner that night, she was serving cod. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity of a home cooked meal, especially from a local family, we opted for the last choice, and agreed to meet at her house at 7pm that night. Her husband, I guess who was also helping to unload the plane, came by with 2 sleeping bags thinking they might have been ours. They weren’t, but I couldn’t help but wonder what paradise I had arrived in where the airport personnel come to your guesthouse to make sure you didn’t forget anything!”
Grimsey Guest House and Airport
Gagga’s Grimsey Tour
2. ABUNDANCE OF HOT WATER.
As there are a high number of volcanoes, Iceland has harnessed this energy by having five major geothernal power plants that produce enough heat and hot water for approximately 87% of all buildings in Iceland. What this translates into for me…no limit to the time and/or quantity of hot showers. Towel warmers seem to come standard in all apartments/hotels. No icy road conditions in major cities as they are all heated underneath the pavement by hot water pipes. Insane number of hotpots (hottubs) everywhere, in nature as well as homes.
Underneath the streets of Reykjavik Iceland
A fair warning! Flipflops will melt @ Geyser
Awaiting the eruption @ Geyser
Thanks to both population levels, and the inability to really escape if you committed a crime due to the fact your on an island surrounded by icy ocean waters. Although safe to walk the downtown streets of Reykjavik in the wee hours of the morning, unfortunately this leaves all the time in the world for the police officers of Iceland to set up speeding traps – no doubt their busiest and most profitable way to “serve and protect”.
Iceland Police Department Speeder Catcher
4. ICELANDIC ART.
I get travelling to NYC to see some amazing works of art. Paris, London, even Toronto has some pretty incredible art galleries. I was surprised to find an overwhelming number of art galleries in both Reykjavik and while travelling around Iceland’s Ring Road. My favourite by far was the Einar Jonsson museum, located beside the Hallgrimskirkja (huge church in the middle of Reykjavik, can’t miss it). Other works of art are scattered throughout the downtown core, or on random street corners all over Iceland.
Outside the National Gallery of Iceland
On a Reykjavik Sidewalk
Einar Jonsson Museum gardens
Whimsical art along the Ring Road, near Seydisfjordur
Reykjavik Street Art
5. ICELANDIC MUSIC.
Honestly, before I visited Iceland the first time, I hadn’t heard of any Icelandic music besides Bjork – which seems to be played in every tourist shop in Iceland. A style of her own, she was what represented Icelandic music to most of the world until recently. Sigur Ros is currently touring the world, and we checked them out on their recent stop at Echo Beach in Toronto. Jonsi, the lead singer of Sigur Ros, created the soundtrack for We Bought A Zoo. One of the most unique and incredible bands I’ve ever listened to…pick up/download their album ( ). Yes, that’s the name of it…just 2 brackets. Of Monsters and Men is maybe the hottest band to come out of Iceland to date – selling out shows all over the world. Iceland Airwaves is a huge music festival held every autumn, this year Sigur Ros is headlining. Info at www.icelandairwaves.is
Sigur Ros at Echo Beach Toronto August 2012