Day 1 in Iceland (8/25/21):-People here drive safe. They yield for me crossing everytime.
-Iceland is expensive. In my experience, only Japan and Singapore surpass it. I just paid $27 for a bottle of water, a pepperoni sub, and a Gatorade at the local gas station.
-Iceland has bipolar weather. One minute it’s raining and windy, next minute it’s cold and dreary, next minute the sun is out and it’s beautiful.
-For this reason, dress in layers. Most people here wear thermals and light, waterproof windbreakers.
-Everyone speaks English but their Nordic accent isn’t always easy to understand. I can’t talk though, I mumble and have yet to find someone with a deeper voice.
-Cash isn’t really necessary here, everyone and everywhere takes card.
-Mask wearing is mandated in most places but non-existent in the public, bars, and restaurants. To each his own.
-I will never not find women with blonde hair and blue eyes wonderfully beautiful.
-Everything is open here. This country thrives off of tourism and especially expeditions and car rentals.
-There are no Uber-like companies or metros/trams here. Your main options are getting a crazy expensive taxi or renting a car, bicycle, or electric scooter. I take the bus and walk because I always stumble upon hidden gems and meet new people that way.
Day 2 in Iceland (8/26/21):
-Fermented shark isn’t bad. (Pictured in the open jar between the dried fish and shot of liquor) The taste and texture is like marinated tofu, but I was recommended to chase it with a local liquor that I cannot spell or pronounce to save my life. And, then again, I’ve had boiled goat penis in a hot pot in Vietnam before.
-My whale crumpets reminded me of a pulled pork taco in everything from taste to texture.
-Everyone is COVID vaccinated here and the quarantine hotel is free for the few people who still get COVID after being vaccinated.
-The Reykjavik City Card isn’t a good buy. I went to six museums with a friend today and they were all very small, uninteresting exhibits. The thermal pools are filled with old men who you get to watch shower naked in a queue before hopping in.
-Taking an electric scooter around town is exhilarating and freeing.-Netflix in Iceland has the entire series of The Office (U.S.) and I love it.
-For some reason, I was under the impression I was going to be dwarfed by every Nordic man here. I’ve yet to find someone well over my size and I’m 1.83m and 90kg.
-The concert hall is stunning but has small rooms. I watched an opera play sitting in a plastic chair in rows of just three.
-This country is so safe I watched three kids go into a bar and restaraunt to order ice cream and eat it at the bus stop while they waited for their bus, surround by strangers, and no one batted an eye.
Day 3 in Iceland (8/27/21):
-Fake IDs are common out here. This girl was talking to me at a bar and I joked she looked 16 – she was….
-Locals don’t even drink their own spirits because the imports cost less than their domestics. Jager and Jameson are some go to’s.
-Waterproof attire isn’t foolproof. I went on a tour with 17 people and it didn’t matter what we wore, we were all soaked after the trail.
-The Katla Ice Cave is overrated. It’s literally just a hole 10 meters long. The trail to it however is magical and pictured with this diction.
-The seafood here is unparalleled. I just had fin whale steak and a hot dog made out of lobster … well, I guess that’s basically just a lobster roll then….
-I’m not sure why but locals here love ice cream and smoking 🤷.
-They have bars here grouped together called American Bar, English Bar, and Irish Bar that are actually surprisingly not half bad.
Day 4 of Iceland (8/28/21):
-There is a huge punk and metal scene out here.
-Day drinking isn’t common.
-Most people who live in Iceland don’t want to live in Iceland. They find it boring, expensive, and that a lot of the negatives are covered up to save face for tourism. Homelessness, addictions, and more.
-The nightlife isn’t anything to brag to home about.
-The food is. I’ll never get tired of dried haddock or smoked salmon.
-WiFi is everywhere here. It’s refreshing to not have to worry about it.
-A lot of tourist excursions are taking chances from whale watching to the Northern Lights. You might end up blowing $200-300 to basically sit on a bus all day. Lower your expectations and enjoy the ride.
Day 5 & 6 of Iceland (8/29/21-8/30/21):
-Nearly every country has different flavors of Pringles and/or Doritos. There’s over 100 of them in the world. Try them. I’ve had Sweet Chili Pepper, Wasabi, Spicy Lobster, Mayonnaise, Seaweed, Sour Cream (without onion), and more over the years – they’re all good.
-Go to McDonald’s. This sounds ridiculous but every country has different McDonalds. Malaysia has curry in theirs, Japan’s are designed like a nice sit-down restaraunt, and Luxembourg’s has dispensers with about a dozen different sauces to try. If not, try a fast food place just once to see how they compare to your country or city.
-The real Katla cave collapsed. I was taken to the knock-off one apparently….
-I’ve learned the hard way that the buildings here seldom have rooftops that provide sufficient rain cover. So, if you’re on a scooter late at night and it suddenly starts to rain – you’re getting wet.
-The Reykjavik flea market is very small but has a seafood/deli section that is delightful.
-Happy hour here is generally around 4pm-8pm and is 2-4-1. Skal!
-Iceland only has three Olympic medals in their entire history (2 silver, 1 bronze). They are more so known for their strongmen and CrossFit athletes.
-Want to look like a tourist? Pack an umbrella. It gets far too windy here for them to be effective. You’ll just end up looking like Mary Poppins.
-Don’t try to do everything. You can’t. Have a handful of realistic must-do’s. It’s exhausting when you’re just doing one attraction after another in a packed itinerary. Live in the moment. Stroll through a local market, meet some locals at a happy hour, and listen to your body.
-Almost all of Iceland is vaccinated but the EU as a a whole is not much better than the States.
Day 7 in Iceland (8/31/21):
-Iceland has the best freakin’ water in the world. Don’t buy bottled water here just bring a refillable bottle.
-Iceland’s thermal pools, spas, and gyms are a culture shock for me.
-In thermal pools, everyone has to shower naked in public showers before getting into the pool. By my luck, there was a school trip when I went so I was showering nude surrounded by naked seven-year-olds and seventy-year-olds.
-In gyms, everything is Hi-Tech. They don’t use key cards, they use built-in eye scanners on the doors to check-in and open them. And they had every machine and piece of equipment you can think of and then some.
-Spas are crazy overpriced. I was silly enough to mishear the receptionist, who didn’t speak stellar English, saying they were doing a 50% discount because they had construction going on during business hours … they were actually doing a 15% discount. Some of my day tours cost less than a basic manicure and pedicure. Live and learn.
-Take the bus to and from the KEF airport. It’s around $25USD each way. A taxi starts at $100.
-Also, the Blue Lagoon is closer to the airport than it is to the capital so it’s a good idea to plan going there on your day of arrival or departure.
-My biggest takeaways from Iceland are that it’s 10x safer than the US will ever be and they are very much for getting vaccinated. That being said, the weather is cruel often, everything is expensive, and I think I would get bored fast living there.
-Iceland is a foodie haven for carnivores in my opinion. Roasted lamb (pictured), smoked salmon, and lobster soup – I looked forward to the next meal every day.