Iceland: Expectations For Our Upcoming Trip

I’ve mentioned to y’all that my family and I are traveling to Iceland this summer to celebrate my dad’s retirement. After months of anticipation, we’re now just days away from leaving for the Nordic island that’s about the size of the state of Kentucky. We leave on SATURDAY!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had fun splitting up our itinerary, planning excursions and making reservations at stops along the way. (We’ll be traveling counter clockwise around the Ring Road, for those of you familiar with the country.) Kevin and I sent out periodic “Icelandic Inspiration” newsletters to my family (I know, we’re nerds) as a way to learn some fun facts about the nation we’d soon be visiting. (Some highlights? The fact that 80% of Icelanders truly believe in the existence of elves, the webcam stream of the last McDonald’s meal in Iceland, and learning that all baby’s names in Iceland have to be approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee.)

Between putting together our portion of the itinerary, researching facts for the newsletter, and reading blogs of others who have traveled to Iceland, I’ve developed a few expectations for our upcoming trip. I thought it could be fun to share those expectations pre-trip, and then report back once I’m back Stateside on how things actually shook out. So here goes!:

  • Climate: It’s going to rain often. Every blog I read about what to pack for Iceland in the summertime reiterates the importance of as many waterproof items as possible. Temperature-wise, it’s going to be in the 40s and 50s for the most part, which sounds like a positively delightful change from this gross upper-90s heat we’ve been having this month here in the Southeast. It’s also going to be light alllllll day (and night!) long. I’m looking forward to experiencing that, for sure (and am hoping for good blackout curtains at all our hotels).

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  • Culture: Icelanders seem to be hearty and artistic folks, by all accounts. Hearty, thanks to the island mentality and the weather there, and artistic for perhaps the same reason. I remember watching a Sigur Rós documentary a few years ago, and hearing one of the band members comment on how everyone in Iceland was always creating something. If you aren’t creating art, it seems, you are in the minority on this island. They are known as being happy and fulfilled, they value family (though have some different interpretations on family — particularly romantic relationships/marriages — than most of the world), the environment, and healthy living, and seem to be quite modern folks. Most everyone speaks English, which will make our lives much easier. (Interestingly, too, there’s no word in Icelandic for “please.” Apparently the “please” is communicated through inflection.)
  • Food: This part’s going to be fun! Of course, we’re all (and by “we,” I mainly mean Kevin and Marty) pumped to try some famed Icelandic delicacies, such as putrid shark (or hákarl) and sheep’s head, but I’m also excited about the abundance of skyr (which I adore, and apparently is eaten by Icelanders nearly every day, any time of day). I recently learned, too, that hot dogs are EVERYWHERE in Iceland. Gas stations, restaurants, hot dog stands, and the like, with fun toppings like fried onions. YUM! (We have a reservation at Dill in Reykjavik — known for its “new Nordic” cuisine — on our last night in the country, which I’m especially looking forward to.)

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  • Landscape: I fully expect to be awestruck daily in Iceland. There’s such a variety of landscape, from glaciers to geysers (an Icelandic word!) to volcanoes to waterfalls and more. (Did you see the movie Interstellar? The scenes from the lovely and haunting ice planet were shot in Iceland.) We’re also visiting a lava field where NASA sends astronauts to train for moon landings, because the surface is remarkably similar to the moon. Also on the itinerary: whale watching, hiking, and speedboat riding. Can’t WAIT!

Horses being herded through the lava fields near Landmannalaugar in southern Iceland on September 21, 2011. Photo by: Lindsay Blatt / Herd In Iceland About the Project: In September and October of 2010, Lindsay Blatt and Paul Taggart were worked in Iceland on their short film and photographic project documenting the historic herding of the prized Iceland horses.  Each year traditional herdsman take to the  back country to round up thousands of the country's hardy horses, which have spent the summer grazing in the highlands.  Throughout the three weeks of production Lindsay and Paul shot from land, air, foot, and hoof across the vast Icelandic landscape, following and living with the herdsmen.  The team has brought together a collection of media for print publications, as well as a short documentary film.  In September of 2011, the team returned to conduct interviews for the film, and to produce a new selection of large format portraits to accompany the landscapes for future exhibitions.

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  • Driving: We’re renting a van so the six of us can drive around the Ring Road, and my dad and I are the two registered drivers — yikes! I’m definitely going to be watching the speedometer, as speeding tickets are no joke in Iceland.

(And, as a bit of a humble brag, Kevin and I have been listening to the Land Ho! Iceland playlist I shared with y’all back in March, and it’s REALLY good. I recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t already! My favorite artist from the playlist is Ásgeir, who’s kind of like the Icelandic Bon Iver and whose music is mesmerizing. Happy listening!) 

2 Comments

  1. Jackie Cangro

    I visited Iceland a few years ago and loved it! (Strangely, I do remember seeing several hot dog carts!)
    At this time of year, it’s light nearly 24 hours, so that will be something to get used to. Have a great trip!

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