Iceland, not on the bucket list, was Gail Shelton’s first international trip since Covid She had several trips planned (Ireland, Spain) that were cancelled . As told to Kiwanis this trip was one that was available and she and her daughter decided to go. You go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights therefore you go in the winter because it is dark. In the summer it is daylight all day. It is a 6 hour flight from New York, leaving at 7:30 PM and arriving in Iceland around 7 AM (Iceland time). Then they had to stay up all day on Monday. They stayed in the city of Reykjavik. There were 31 people on their tour, a very diverse group of people from all over the US. Their tour guide was from Poland originally but had lived in Iceland for 17 years and spoke the language.
Iceland is about the size of Alabama and everyone lives in the coastal area. The interior is mostly uninhabited. It is one of the oldest democracies in the world. In AD 930 the first parliament and government was elected. It is the safest country in the world. There is no military and no guns. The police do not even carry guns.
When they hunt they use bow and arrows. The population of the whole country is 330,000. Most people are related. Gail said there was a dating app so people don’t date their cousin.
Geothermal is used there, steam and hot water. They tap into the volcanos for energy. There are 30 active volcanos and over 100 total most of which are dormant. The sidewalks are heated and the floors in the homes are heated. The country is very eco friendly and they recycle everything. The temperature while they were there was in the 20-30 range.
As far as food goes they serve a lot of fish (haddock, cod, salmon, trout) and seafood, broiled or baked. Fishing is a big deal. They have beef and sheep. There are more sheep than people in Iceland. The grow fruits and vegetables in big greenhouses . The only fast food was Starbucks but people in Iceland drink a lot of coffee. A reindeer hotdog was considered fast food. Near the hotel was a food court that had all nationalities of food.
In the schools children are taught 3 languages-Icelandic, English and Danish. Of course they would speak Icelandic at home.
There are very few trees because the Vikings used them to build boats. But there
is a reforestation project going on.
The Golden Circle is Iceland’s prominent tourist destination. It takes you to two magnificent waterfalls and the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is a spa where you don bathing suits and go in the water. They give facials (black and white) so people are in the water with black and white faces. It is supposed to be very healthy for you. They also went to the Black Sand Beach. The beaches are black because of the lava from volcanoes. The rocky outcroppings get worn down by the waves which are very strong. It is very dangerous to go in the water because of the undertow.
They did not see the Northern Lights. The first two days they were there it snowed and was cloudy and overcast. You can only see the Northern Lights on a clear night in winter 18 hours after a solar storm. However, they did get to see them in a museum presentation.
Iceland is a stunningly beautiful place especially with the snow. Gail said her daughter said it would be fun to see in the summer to see the difference.
To travel internationally and fly required a negative Covid test before you boarded the plane and before you could come back.
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