Ten Awesome Things We Learned Visiting Iceland (Part 1)

I alluded to our recent whereabouts last week, but Jenn and I just got back Sunday night from ten incredible days in Iceland. This was our first vacation abroad since our honeymoon, and all I can say is “wow.” We just got back, and we’re already planning another trip to Iceland, because once just wasn’t enough.

Iceland is a magical place; full of incredible sights that amaze and inspire. When you’re driving around the idyllic countryside, it seems that around every bend, there’s yet another jaw-dropping landscape. Whether it’s a glacier looming above the skyline, or crystal-blue water stretching from black sand beaches endlessly out to the horizon, Iceland is 100% porn for nature geeks.

While we were visiting, we also learned some really fascinating facts about the country, it’s people, and what life there is like. Here are ten of those facts:

 

Jenn with a chunk of ice she picked up off Diamond Beach.

1. Don’t buy the bottled water. 

Why not? Because you can drink it straight from the tap. Okay, so, this one’s a big deal for Americans. The tap water in Iceland comes straight from the glaciers and has been filtered multiple times through volcanic rock, removing all kinds of impurities, making it some of the freshest, purest water you’ll ever taste. Buying bottled water is just paying for someone else to bottle the water from the tap for you. Jenn and I filled up our water bottles in the bathroom sink in our hotel room every morning. It tasted great, saved us money, and kept waste out of landfills!

2. Try the Hot Dogs.

Iceland is world-renowned for its hot dogs. No, seriously. And that reputation is well-deserved. Jenn and I usually eschew street meat vendors, but after hearing about Icelandic hot dogs, we had to try them. We sampled many hot dog stands throughout Reykjavik, saving “the Best Hot Dog Stand in Town” for last. They held up.

I got mine with ketchup and fried onions. Jenn would order “one with everything,” which consisted of fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, mayo, and sweet Icelandic mustard. At 450 Icelandic Krona (~$4.25 USD) each, hot dogs made for a quick, cheap meal on the go. Considering that a hamburger in town could cost upwards of $20 and most other meals upwards of $30 or $40, hot dogs and PB&J sandwiches were a budget-saving lunch staple.

Checking out “The Best Hot Dog Stand In Reykjavik.” It’s legit.

 

3. “The Nearest Hospital is 62 Kilometers Away.”

This ain’t Disney World. This whole island is actually the product of a nest of volcanos, some of which are still technically active, and whose next eruption may be imminent. So, just going to this place, to begin with, is a bit of a craps shoot.

What’s more, Iceland’s conservation-minded approach to making nature accessible means they do everything they can to avoid unnecessarily impacting the environment. Trails have been properly blazed, and there are well-kept stairways, but they’re not big on things like safety rails. Rather, they’ll have a couple warning signs, but no barriers between you and nature. For really hazardous stuff (slippery cliffs, sheer drops, etc.) they may have a thin rope strung up to cordon you off from getting too close to the edge. Why? Because they expect you to act like an adult, assume liability for your own safety, exhibit some sense of self-preservation, and not act like a dumbass. So, don’t be a dumbass.

Side Note: There were some tourists that threw caution to the wind and would climb on icebergs that were sitting in the water on the beach, or climb over the barriers to get that perfect Instagram pic. You know who they all were? Americans.

Okay, maybe one was Canadian. But still, there’s a reason why most of the warning signs we saw were written only in English.

Me, not taking my own advice while standing on the remains of a bridge that was demolished by a volcanic iceberg. Yeah, that’s a thing here.

I’m going to let that be it for the first installment of this series. Keep an eye out for Parts 2 and 3 in the near future, plus a big ol’ photo dump.

It’s good to be home. Time to get back at it!