Sunday, May 29, 2011

Heating Up Iceland- Fire and Ice

Getting Hot in Iceland

The expert panel here at Adventure Lovers is pleased to present to none other than famed explorer—Richard B. 
Icelandic Landscape

Adventure Lovers: And Rich, pray tell, Iceland, first impressions?
Rich: Well, my first impression came on the plane over while watching a promotional video for the country on Icelandic Air. The host was speaking to the owner of a famous seafood shop, and asked how people enjoyed a special type of dried fish. “Some like it, many hate it … but most people are willing to at least try it,” the shopkeeper answers. I had to laugh. “Many hate it,” was the best sound clip they could come up with? What does that say for the food they didn’t bother to ask about? Then, as the video ends, as Reykjavik is an international hub for planes before they depart for the rest of Europe, they request, “We hope that you choose to make a couple day stop-over in Iceland before continuing onto the rest of Europe,” which, to me, implies there really isn’t much to see ...

Adventure Lovers: Are first impressions correct?
Rich: Pretty much. Iceland is the newest geological  formation on earth, at a youthful eight million years of age, and also one of the most desolate, as not much grows in volcanic rock, especially with continuous eruptions and the ensuing lava wiping out any freshly wooded hillsides. The entire population of Iceland is 320,000, and 60% of that lives in the capital city of Reykjav√≠k. The rest of the inhabitants live in small fishing villages dotting the coast, with a few farmers several miles inland. Now, when I say farming, I don’t mean vegetables, we are talking sheep, horses, and a few cattle. There are some mossy and grassy areas, but when you go further inland the only thing you’ll find is barren volcanic rock, possibly layered in ice-age glaciers. The only vegetables they grow are in greenhouses. Furthermore, even with the collapse of their currency during the economic crisis (it has since staged a sort of comeback) things here are still ridiculously priced. We are talking $9 beers, and $22 small pizzas that are essentially just flavored bread, and pre-planned glacier snowmobiling excursions starting at over $400.
AL: What did you like about Iceland?
Rich: Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like. The party scene in Reykjavik is off the hook, (weekends May to September only) The landscape has a certain rugged, moonlike charm, and the massive glaciers here make for some wonderful views. 
Two Norweigen Girs and yours truly
AL: Many people dream about going to Reykjavik to “party with the hotties.” Tell us about the party scene there.
Rich: Well, if you are going to drink, you’d better bring a fat wallet. A round of drinks for four people will cost you close to $50. But, most people who go out, are there to party, and party hard. Maybe too hard in as much as you will hear the tinkling of shattering glass on a regular basis. Girls here have no problems coming up and introducing themselves to you as a guy, which was a refreshing change. Not all girls act as such, but it’s nice.
 
Marcus, Steve, Tom (sooo gay), and me
AL: Maybe those other girls just didn’t want you?
Rich: Maybe they were married.
AL: Haha.
Rich: No, honestly, there are no cover charges to go into bars, but 95% of the clubs in all of Iceland are on one street, and I am lucky that I spent the weekend here, because every other night the clubs are almost completely dead.
AL: What about the music scene there? Bjork and all?
Rich: The music scene here is pretty kicking. The Icelandic people love their music, and there are some really excellent bands. I listened to a set of songs that were just fantastic. Also, a pretty blond girl who finished in second place in Euro Vision during the 2009 contest (Europe’s version of American Idol) got up and belted out a couple tunes.
AL: Are Icelandic women as hot as Norse mythology would have us believe?
Rich: Are there hot women in Iceland? Sure. But honestly, the distribution is not that different between here and elsewhere. People always say, “Oh my God, I hear the women there areee soooo hot.” I have yet to see a place that beats Los Angeles, if for no other reason than so many beauties move to Hollywood to break into the entertainment industry.
AL: What about the Icelandic economy?
Rich: Iceland is essentially a poor country. They have to import almost all their food except fish, and to purchase fish here is very expensive because this is the one commodity that Iceland can export. The only resources that Iceland is truly blessed with are a seemingly limitless amount of water (glaciers/snow/rain) and nearly free electricity. In fact, Iceland gets close to 100% of its energy from renewable sources, namely geothermal. Because Iceland is still very active volcanically they are able to turn the heat underground into all the electricity they need and more. They also have a tremendous amount of hydro-electricity at their disposal, and were able to lure some energy intensive industries, an aluminum smelting operation for example, to their island, which is an indirect way to export their over-abundance of super cheap green electricity , which I thought was pretty cool. On the whole though, Iceland is not far away from being a large desolate rock at the edge of the Arctic Circle.
Crystal clear water, no greenery anywhere
AL: How big is Iceland?
Rich: The size of Kentucky. The Blue Grass state is known for its expansive open areas and still has a population of 14 million people- making it 43 times as densely populated as Iceland. Funny enough, due its relatively size and the fact that it doesn’t reside on the same tectonic plate as either North America or Europe, some of the Icelandic crazies have been advocating that Iceland should be named a separate continent.
AL: That’s not going to happen.
Rich: I said they were crazies.
AL: With a population so small, and I’d imagine very little intermingling with the outside world given its location, are most of the people related to one another?
Rich: Not only is the entire population related one way or another, Iceland has the Arkansas “Uncle Daddy” problem. Throughout the history of Iceland, laws against incest were passed over and over and over again, but "special interests" created a lot of wiggle room, so finally Iceland’s leading politician declared: “Thou shall not have relations with thy daughter.” Of course, immediately upon its pronouncement in the legislature, grumbling could be heard from all members, and some-sicko Viking slowly rose, looked around, and whined, “But come on, we’re only human!” and as most of the heads around him nodded … the law was amended to: “Thou shall not have relations with thy daughter … Well, at least not more than two times per annum,”  and that’s where the law stands today. It’s in the Icelandic Constitution. They are quite proud of it.
 Here, since I have made fun of Iceland, you guy can make fun of me as I display a traditional Icelandic dance I learned. :) 


Click here for Part II- How Iceland Was Declared a Terrorist Nation

5 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Katija
    I have added your requested disclaimer below the post. No worries. I love Lonely Planet!

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  3. What was your budget like while you were there. Think I would be pretty much on the same page as you in the travel sense. Really want to get a good taste of the local scene, music, nightlife but also want to experience the natural wonders..hopefully on some sort of backpacker tour group or something with some adventurous people.

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    1. Stay in a hostel where you can meet fellow travellers. EVERYTHING in Iceland is super expensive, so you really have to mind your budget.
      There isn't much outside Reyk, but if you want to do a one day thing, go on one of the tours with a local guide and get some flavor.
      stuff like snowmobiling on the glaciers I remember was like $450 or something for the excursion. There are simply better places for the value of your money than Iceland, but by all means, I'm not discouraging you from going. Hope this helps :)

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