Nature & Environment Aug 16, 2016

Iceland: Five Things That Shocked Me

Guest post by Saskia Beasley

The Food

During my four-day stay in Iceland, I was spoiled for choice; at Sægriefinn I was treated to a lobster soup (for my money, the best in the world) and fresh fish kebabs, and at Kopar I found myself in foodie heaven, as even the butter was bursting with flavor. I also tried local delicacies such as Skyr yoghurt and the fiery Brennívin liquor, which became a fast favourite of mine. The thing that (pleasantly) surprised me the most was that in Iceland, everything I ate tasted fresh and unaltered – from the hot dog I ordered on the bustling streets of Reykjavík to the six courses of Icelandic tapas I was treated to at Tapas Barinn.

The Midnight Sun

A friend I made on my travels in Iceland told me that the nightlife in Reykjavík doesn’t really peak until 2am, which I attribute in part to the fact that the sun is still clearly visible past midnight. I found it an incredible experience to witness the near constant daylight, and it was reassuring to walk back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning with the sky not yet dark.

The People

Icelanders are by and large proud of their homeland, particularly their performance in the recent UEFA European Championship, which an Icelandic friend happily termed ‘small nation syndrome.’ In my opinion, the rest of the world could do with a bit more of it; every Icelander I encountered was friendly, wonderfully relaxed and often had a brilliant sense of humour, too. More than once I spent an hour or more speaking with waitresses in a restaurant and when you’re pushing your limits climbing the Solheimajokull glacier, it’s a real bonus to have affable and knowledgeable guides to help you get there.

The Nightlife

The Reykjavík nightlife is somewhat famous throughout Europe and it more than lives up to its stellar reputation. There is a buzz throughout the city in the evenings, but what sets it apart from other places I’ve visited is the easy and friendly atmosphere. Everybody seemed solely intent on enjoying their nights and Iceland’s partygoers were incredibly diverse, but at the same time rubbed along together happily, as they made the most of what the city has to offer.

The Silfra Fissure

My diving experience before Iceland was limited to tropical waters, with an average level of visibility, and Silfra was worlds away from that. The cold water was certainly a shock, but the 100 feet (or more) visibility was unforgettable and a totally unique feature of this compelling dive site. Granted, Silfra is not blessed with a great deal aquatic life, but the stunning clarity of the water more than makes up for it. The vivid colors on display throughout this narrow fissure are perhaps unparalleled worldwide.

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