As we were wrapping up our time on the island, I asked the family for any insight they had on Iceland after a week here that we didn't find via Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, or anywhere else online. Our powerful observations and extensive drive time gave us 15 hidden gems that might be pertinent when collecting random facts:
1. The life pace and hours of operation in Iceland are excellent. Stores open at 10 or 11 each morning and many of them don't open at all on the weekend. Folks shouldn't have to work 24 hours a day (or on the weekend!) because we haven't thought ahead to do our grocery shopping. Slow down, make a list, and stop living like everything is an emergency! (Noted and a personal work in progress. Not the grocery list thing - that isn't happening at all - but the slowing down part).
2. Malt is "children beer" (and "disgusting", per my daughter).
3. The Icelandic alphabet doesn't have the letters C or Q according to the family's maximum efforts offered at the license plate game. Or maybe these letters just don't belong on license plates?
4. Water is served freely and endlessly. I don't know if it comes from a glacier, but it tastes like it does, so that's the story we're going with.
5. The cups here are tiny. Eeek! That speaks for coffee too. We realized very quickly that we needed to adjust. This was another pace setter for us. At home, we drink from gallon coffee mugs when possible. Here, we are forced to slowly sip and enjoy our coffee and tea. Different. At home, we buy an 18 pack of beer and drink a couple in an evening. Here, we browse the liquor store carefully and purchase a single beer to enjoy for the evening. Again, different. Think about pace. Slow is better.
6. At least 320k of the 325,000 people that live in Iceland can be found in or around Reykjavik. We're pretty certain that the other 5,000 are dairy farmers and over-sized van operators that run glacier tours and live scattered about the rest of the island. It's quiet out there!
7. Scarves are standard for all and puffballs are required in order for a hat to be official.
8. I despise selfie-sticks. Our near death experience with them on the Cliffs of Mohrer in Ireland taught me that there is no faster way to ruin a beautiful photo opportunity (waterfall, glacier, etc.) than with one of these. That is, until drones started flying around various stopping points. If I had a selfie-stick I'd hit one of those buzzing beeping things like a piñata on my birthday when it flew by my head! Shhhhh! We are enjoying nature!
9. Icelandic food comes from all over - with the exception of the puffin and the whale - and includes lots of sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, curry, and fish.
10. The reason we didn't see any more than one possible puffin rather than "hundreds nestled into the beautiful black coves" as the books describe is because THEY ARE ON THE FLIPPING RESTAURANT MENUS!! Not nice!
11. There are water parks everywhere. No seriously, there are.
12. If you're a business owner and looking to be successful - purchase and operate a N1. This is a combo gas station, mini grocery, fast food, toilets, and social pub for literally everyone because it is often the only thing that exists in a "town".
13. Our experience with the Icelandic locals was not quite what we'd expected. Based upon the description in one of our books, it sounded as if these quirky, creative, artistic folks might rival the Irish with their warm, charming ways and genuine desire to make their country our country. We found them to be friendly; however, we didn't run into folks that were overly zealous in their ways or seemingly interested in making best friends. We had new Irish besties at each pub we visited. In all truthfulness, we really did make, meet, and keep friends from that journey! Service was certainly a higher priority than social skills here and the Icelandic folks did a nice job with this aspect for sure.
14. Quiznos, Subway, & KFC turn a town into a big city! Not to worry, we still consider them illegal when abroad. The good news? No Starbucks! No McDonalds!
15. Sulfur water may be what your shower is operating from in one or more towns and it WILL turn your jewelry green. Each silver piece I wear has a story and a purpose and much of it has been worn for almost 2 decades. I've taken it all off once, which was when I sat for my BCBA certification and I threw a small tantrum about that - particularly my Papa's bracelet. It's all off now - due to the glowing green hue that I came out of the shower screaming about. My crazy ear piercings all survived beautifully, which is a good thing because I don't know that I could make it through another round of piercings. First stop in Denver? Jewelers!
Quick trip to Sweden for a few hours (until later!) and then on into Norway for a couple weeks! So excited! Ja! Snart!