Reykjavik, Iceland in October of 2009. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons under Creative Commons License.

Iceland Will Surely Melt Your Heart

November 14, 2018

Iceland is renowned for its beautiful scenery and legendary waterfalls, and of course, the Blue Lagoon. However, there are so many other surprises hidden in the little town of Reykjavik–the capital of Iceland–that people tend to miss out on. Being born there myself, I know just about every little nook and cranny of its amusing wonders. Whenever I get the chance to hop on a plane and fly to the little island, I find myself counting down the days. The Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls don’t seem to compare to the amazing mountains and the clear, blue sky in Iceland.

So, let’s get on an imaginary plane and fly to Iceland. I’ll be happy to show you around.

Before starting the hikes and the overnight camp outs, you’ll have to survive the long hours of a plane ride. While Icelandair, Iceland’s official airline, is top-notch when it comes to planes–supplying you with amazing service, a TV, a blanket, and even a pillow–it’s still a lengthy six-hour flight from Dulles International Airport. Grab your coats because you just might feel a little chilly. Even with July being the hottest month for Iceland, the temperature stays around 50-70 degrees, not even coming close to the warm days in the U.S.

The cause of this “warmth” is the Midnight Sun, which means the sun does not go down in the summer. You can stay up until 3 am and the sun will still be hidden behind the horizon, shining through your window. Temperatures do vary quite a bit though, as Iceland’s winter temperature can get as low as 25 degrees. That being said, I suggest you lean more towards June and July to take your special trip, unless you want to have a white Christmas slathered with northern lights and fireworks, in which case you should go in December.

Iceland and America could not be more different, with contrasts ranging from clothes, to food, to the way people talk to one another. In America, you’ll usually find jackets with little patterns, but Icelandic apparel consists more of wool sweaters and thick coats that are focused on insulation. One example would be Lopapeysa, a wool sweater with a small, creative design coating the collar. You’ll find one of these in just about every Native Icelanders closet.

Even though Iceland has a variety of jackets to choose from, picking something up in America would be a better idea since prices are high in Iceland. Pack a few pairs of pants, and if you’re feeling courageous, maybe throw in a pair of shorts.

Restaurants line the streets of Iceland, all having their own touch to food. Something they all have in common? They’re delicious. Iceland’s restaurants aren’t your typical McDonald’s or Red Robin; instead, the food is more genuine. Granted, they still have pizza and burgers, but the flavor is something American foods will probably never achieve. Some things you should definitely get your hands on are Pylsur, meaning hot-dog, and Harðfiskur, which means dried fish. The hot-dogs aren’t made out of the normal pork and beef, but instead replaced by lamb. And the dried fish is similar to beef jerky, both with a chewy texture, but both very good.

Now, one restaurant, in particular that you won’t regret going to is Laugaás, a famous restaurant in Iceland. To my luck, it’s run by my uncle, who is an absolutely amazing cook and who’s been working there for almost 30 years. If you ever decide to go there, push your preferences aside and try something unique because, trust me, you’ll forget what American foods taste like.

American eateries still make their way onto the little island, including Dominos. Yes, Dominos is very good in America, but in Iceland, once again, it’s made a little bit better. You’re also able to add more toppings like pulled pork, peppered cream cheese and even nacho chips to your pizza. Sorry if I made you hungry after all this, but Iceland’s food doesn’t revolve around seafood and lamb’s head like most people believe. Just remember, don’t be scared to chow down on something you’ve probably never heard of, because you’ll never get anything else like it in the world.

Activities can be hard to find sometimes in Iceland due to Iceland’s high prices. Most people want to go to the Blue Lagoon, which is a popular heated spa, but you’d be lucky to have enough money for it. The Blue Lagoon’s prices range from $50-$70, but having fun in Iceland doesn’t require spending $80 at a heated spa.

Instead, try a little bit of bowling or a movie. Egilshöll is a famous complex that features a movie theater, bowling alley, soccer field, ice skating rink, shooting range, tennis court, and has been the venue for major artists like Justin Bieber. People typically go bowling, laugh about who won, then finally sit down to relax after a long day.

Or, visit Geysir, Iceland’s most famous geyser. Wait 2-4 minutes to watch water shoot at least 70 meters in the air. Geyir attracts hundreds of thousand of tourists a year as Geysir is one of the most famous attractions in Iceland. The best part is that it’s free.  

While bowling and eating a big pizza is enjoyable, going outside and exploring Iceland’s hidden wonders is something you’ll never forget. Grab your hiking boots, throw on a jacket and head up Esja, a popular mountain for hiking. When you reach the summit, after looking over the cliff and seeing the whole of Iceland, sign your name in the book that sits at the top. It’s very tiring, but very much worth it.

Aside from the hiking and the bowling, relaxing in a heated pool is a must-do in Iceland. Laugardalslaug, a geothermal pool, is actually the biggest pool in Iceland, visited by 1.5 million people annually. It has a large pool, two water-slides, numerous hot tubs, and many other things to try. Meeting a celebrity could also be crossed off your bucket list as there are quite a few celebrities that visit there.

Myths and legends walk the streets of Iceland, leaving theories and stories in people’s heads. A popular, ongoing belief is the existence of elves. Sounds crazy, I know, but more than half of Icelanders believe in them–66%, to be exact. If something of theirs disappears, many Icelanders immediately assume that a little elf took it. This superstition started before the 1700’s and seems to be growing faster than the purple Lupina, a flower you can find everywhere in Iceland. The elves are believed to live in big boulders, so it’s often been said that trying to move one of them could release bad luck to the surrounding people. In fact, construction workers often try to work around boulders.

Sounds like an interesting place to visit, right? So leave America behind and fly to Iceland where mountains, heated pools, and even elves are just around every corner.

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