I fell in love during my layover
I booked an airplane flight on a budget airline called Iceland air. Which meant I had a nine hour layover in Iceland. When I first got off my plane I was tired and a bit nervous. I’ve felt rather insecure since the beginning of this trip when I realized that I’d moved across the ocean while forgetting my wallet at home, but that is a story for another time.
Eventually though, I decided to just march right past my fears and take the opportunity to see a bit of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. I’m so glad I did:
It was not quite as cold as you might expect because warm water flowing from the Gulf of Mexico flows to the edge of Iceland. While I was there it was just about sweater weather, my favorite temperature!
Iceland is called the land of fire and ice for a good reason. Glaciers and ice caps cover 11% of the country. On the other hand, there are over 100 volcanoes on the island.
And let’s face it. You know it must be a photogenic country because even I took nice pictures of it.
Hello, my name is the world’s worst travel photographer. Hey, nice to meet you.
Because Iceland is located on a fault line between two tectonic plates, Iceland has lots of geothermal activity. Geothermal energy is so cheap that even some sidewalks are heated in the winter time!
Being a thick 6 ft tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, It was pretty easy for me to blend in with the locals. Most of the people here look about the same as me. That is because Iceland was settled by Vikings in 800 AD and not too many people have moved here since. Some say it is the most isolated gene pool on earth. That is why scientists come to Iceland to study genetic diseases and other health issues.
Despite the fact I fit in quite nicely (people often tried to start conversations with me in Icelandic), the lack of diversity made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I am from America, which is quite a melting pot. EVERYBODY LOOKED SO SIMILAR IN ICELAND. I kept walking down different streets thinking I was seeing the same old man walking behind me. Eventually I realized that at the turn of each corner, the same old man was wearing different clothes. He really wasn’t the same old man at all.
Iceland is the world’s oldest remaining democracy. In 930 they established a parliament that is still running today. Iceland was taken over and ruled by Denmark for 500 years, but in the 1940s they regained their independence. The country is run by a president who is elected every four years just like ours. However, their elections aren’t quite as competitive. In the last election there was only one guy running for president (the guy who was already president), so he automatically won.
I spent the day exploring their gorgeous capital on foot. I didn’t do much. Mostly just walked around, got lost on purpose, stopped in cafes and coffee shops, walked by the harbor, and made sure to eat one of their world famous hot dogs.
It was the most relaxing day out I could have possible imagined. Iceland is a sanctuary.
Here are some more fun facts from my Iceland adventures so far:
- There are more sheep than people on Iceland! 300,000 people and over 400,000 sheep!
- The flag of Iceland is red, white, and blue to represent the three main elements of their country, volcano lava, ice, and the surrounding ocean.
- Iceland’s favorite game is handball, which is kind of like soccer except that you can use your hands.
- Another favorite Icelandic hobby is knitting. Boys and girls are taught to knit in school.
- 99% of Icelanders can read. They also have more authors/writers per a capita than any other place on earth. 10% of Icelanders will publish a book in their lifetime.
- According to the global peace index, Iceland is the most peaceful country on earth.