I recently visited Iceland – the magical land of fire and ice. The nature, the people, the atmosphere was something I have never experienced before. There were moments when I just had to stop and look, not able to say anything out of pure amazement of what our nature is actually capable of. I stayed there for five months, traveled to most places, and there are numerous things that left a very positive impression on me, and some views on life I will forever hold with me. That is why I’ve decided to share a list of the ones that really stuck out:
- People & Nature
Let’s start with the most obvious one – nature and people & people and nature. I mean, nature is WHY you go to Iceland (obviously), but believe me, all of these photos, videos, documentaries don’t do it justice! It truly is breathtaking. But what I want to focus on is the relationship Icelanders have with nature. I have never been anywhere where native people would appreciate and respect nature and animals as much as Icelanders. To them, any interference into nature is unnecessary. Of course, they provide paths for some safety, but other than that it’s all basically untouched. And animals can walk free, without the fear of being hurt or their homes getting destroyed. A lot of farmers actually allow their sheep (marking them only with numbers to distinguish them from other farmers’ sheep) to roam free wherever they desire, for days, weeks, even months. When the winter season comes, the farmers go and collect them. Also, Reykjavik is the first city, where I’ve seen wild bunnies walk free in the parks and be fed by locals (like your neighbourhood pigeons!).
There was one instance, where I’ve met a local farmer with huuuuge land, but he didn’t grow anything on it or use it for anything that would essentially bring him profit. Finding this strange, I asked him, what he does with the land, and he casually replied that he takes care of it and of the natural hot pot on it, for locals and tourists to have a good time and enjoy what nature has to offer. Keep in mind: hot pot was free of charge, as is the case with most sighting places in Iceland. If this doesn’t speak volumes of their generosity and the kind of people they are, I don’t know what does.
2. Swap Markets
Why is there still a certain stigma when it comes to wearing old clothes? Before I came to Reykjavik and visited my first swap market, and even bought clothes in second hand shops, I didn’t really realise how normal buying and reusing previously owned things can be. The items are usually good as new, they are rarely outdated, and not only is it helping your wallet, but you are also helping our planet. If you ever watched Netflix’s series Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj you know where I’m going with this. If not, you can watch the entire seasons on Netflix, or watch this particular episode The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion for free here: (the title pretty much sums it up, and I highly recommend watching it).
3. Food Variety
As a vegan, I can tell you I was most pleasantly surprised to discover that Icelanders don’t find it weird if someone is on a plant-based diet, quite the opposite. You can find vegan substitutes for pretty much anything (definitely recommend vegan schnitzels ;)) and pretty much in any grocery store or restaurant. Rest assured, no one will stay hungry.
4. Number of Grocery Stores
The thing I loved about this land is that it’s not bombarded with supermarket chains on every corner. In fact, if I counted correctly, there are around 20 actual, physical grocery stores in the capital city. And it works – this number is enough for the locals to get what they need, without the supermarket names being shoved in their faces and destroying the amazing scenery.
I previously talked about how the locals are connected to the nature, and one part of that is also how active they are. Usually, you will find them hiking, running or just taking a walk. I consider myself an active person, but I remember when we were hiking on one of the bigger mountains in Reykjavik (Mount Esja, to be precise), it was super windy and I felt a light shortness of breath (nothing too major, just something like I’ve never hiked before in my life), and a mom and her young child passed by me like it was nothing. That was fun 🙂
So, that concludes my short list. Again, these are just some of the examples of what stuck out to me about Iceland. I could say more, and go on and on and on and on, but I will leave it here and let you discover it for yourself!
You’ve made it to the end of this post, but before you go, here are some more photos of Iceland: