Iceland with Cameron Hewitt | Rick Steves Travel Talks
Hello. Thank. You very much for coming my name is Cameron Hewitt, I've been working with Rick Steves since the year 2000, I wear a lot of hats at the company but mostly I'm a guidebook. Researcher. And writer including. Being a contributing, author on the Rick Steves Iceland guidebook, and I've got to say I've done work on guidebooks in 40 different countries all over Europe Iceland. Is really a special, place this is an amazing place and it's a place that's incredibly, popular right now when, you go to a place that's this popular, you almost expect it to be disappointing, you almost think it can't be that great and I have to say working on our guidebook here every, time I go here I keep thinking to myself this. Is the real deal this is an amazing, place there's things you can see in Iceland you can't see anywhere else so let me tell you a little bit about why for starters I think Iceland, is so amazing, Iceland. Has a very, cozy friendly. Easy-to-navigate. Capital. City Reykjavik, that also has kind of a colorful art and food scene but. The main reason that you go to Iceland, is to get into the countryside and when you do that you get to see some beautiful small. Towns humble, towns but beautiful towns in, spectacular. Natural settings, just, a beautiful beautiful place but. The main reason the number one reason I think why most people go to Iceland is for the spectacular natural. Scenery, this is kind of Europe's Big Sky Country this is an absolutely, astonishingly. Beautiful place you've got all sorts of waterfalls. You've. Got fields of purple flowers. You've. Got waterfalls. You've. Got pastoral, rolling, countryside with. Horses munching, on grass you've. Got waterfalls. You've. Got jagged. Fjords, that I mentioned they have waterfalls. There's. A lot to see and a lot to do in Iceland in the countryside and it's also a unique landscape this is a very active geothermal volcanic. Landscape, you'll walk through landscapes. Like you will never experience just about anywhere, else you'll feel like you're walking on the surface of another planet like you're in some sort of a sci-fi epic the, landscapes, in Iceland I like to describe as cinematic.
There's A reason why a lot of movies TV, shows are film they're Game of Thrones all, the stuff north of the wall was filmed in Iceland and pretty, much any time you're watching a movie and you're, in this otherworldly play, it was probably filmed, in Iceland really majestic and because, of all this volcanic activity, you have really unique and interesting landforms. And the Icelanders, have done an amazing job of harnessing, the power of their country, all of this geothermal energy you've, got wonderful thermal, baths where you can settle, in and relax and simmer in naturally. Heated water in volcanic, surroundings, it's just an amazing place to travel. Iceland. Though is the Land of Fire and Ice and another thing you can see in Iceland that's hard to see in other parts of Europe are glaciers all, along the south coast you'll. See this, dramatic icy. Wonderland, sometimes. Literally right on top of a dormant volcano that's what you get in Iceland, all. Of the details I'm about to talk about in this class are covered in great depth in our Rick Steves Iceland guidebook and I wanted to give a shout out in a special thank you to the co-author of that guidebook and he's the guy who wrote most of it Ian Watson in, addition to having decades, of guidebook, writing experience, Ian's actually lived in Iceland for many years he speaks fluent Icelandic, he has Icelandic citizenship, his kids were raised in Iceland and he knows the country like a local so we collaborated with Ian because he's the one who says not only Reykjavik. Has a dozen geothermal. Swimming pools but he can tell you how they're all different in which one is best for families and which one is best for people hanging out after work Ian, knows which roads freeze over first in the wintertime so you can warn people if you hear offseason be careful if you're taking this road so, a big thanks to you and he literally taught Rick and I everything we know about Iceland, and we're glad to be working with them I. Want. To start with a quick, introduction, of Iceland, just so you get a better sense of this country its history its people then, I'm gonna talk about some, travel, skills practical. Skills for travelling around Iceland and then, I'm going to be getting into some specific, destinations, so that's kind of where we're gonna be going on this journey through Iceland first of all where, is Iceland, well it's sort of part way between Europe and the United States and Canada and, that's the reason probably why you're here because Iceland, air which, is based in Reykjavik, has, really good deals for traveling to Europe they're hub of courses Reykjavik so if you're taking iceland air anywhere in europe you're gonna pass through Reykjavik and they have a very clever marketing, plan where if you want to stay for a few days in Iceland up to a few days they.
Don't Charge you extra for the airfare, so. For that reason you can kind of get a bonus free vacation, on your, way over to Europe or on your way back home from your and, I think that's a big part of the reason why I spent so popular these days they've made it really easy to do so let's. Talk a little more about sort of the geography and the placement of Iceland it's, at the very far north end of the North Atlantic about. Halfway between Norway. And Greenland you'll. Notice it's just. South, of the Arctic Circle the, mainland of Iceland is not, in the Arctic Circle but a few offshore islands to the north are technically. Across the Arctic Circle very. Remote very rugged small. Country it's about the size of the state of Maine in the United States only. Has about 340, thousand people so the whole population of Iceland is about like Corpus, Christi Texas it's about like Anaheim California, it's. About like Honolulu, just to give you a sense for the whole country so. This is a very very remote. And very sparsely. Populated country. But, given that it's got a very rich culture in history that's fun to explore when, Rick Steves goes to Iceland with his Norwegian. Ancestry he, finds that he has these distant cousins all over the place and. That's, because most of the people who live in Iceland, today are descended, from early. Scandinavians, or. You could think of the Old Norse culture, the. Viking Age the people who settled Iceland, weren't Vikings because they weren't pillaging. And raping and. Morada they were the cousins of the Vikings who instead wanted to settle and create, civilizations right, these. Are the folks that were talking about around, the 9th century the. First Viking, Age explorers, from, what is today Norway found. Their way across the North Atlantic and decided to start building scattered, farms around Iceland.
When. They got to Iceland they discovered, a basically. Uninhabited. Country which, is interesting most of the stories of Europeans coming to the new world involve. Colonization. And dealing with native populations, there was no no one living in Iceland at that point so they just built a country from scratch they. Were also a few, Celtic. People people from Ireland are also part of the of the Icelandic mix but the dominant culture was Scandinavian, it. Was a very sparsely populated country. And still is today but, for literally, hundreds of years from the settlement age Iceland. Was basically a series of, distantly. Located. Scattered, farms there'd. Be a farm here and then 50 miles away another farm it was never really any city or town in Iceland. Until pretty much the 19th century so, there was a very. Pioneer, kind of a mentality that still shapes some of what goes on in Iceland today for. Reasons no one's quite sure of though Icelanders, were very literate, and they were great writers and great chroniclers, so a lot of the what, we know about the history of the early Scandinavians, actually. Came from the Icelanders, you, can actually read contemporary, English translations, of what's, called the sagas, the sagas of the Icelanders, and these are sort of the, partial. Fact and partial. Myth of the early stories of Scandinavia, and, of Iceland specifically, kind of like the Robin Hood or King Arthur type tales and. Also, some historically, documented, chronicles, of the people who first settled Iceland so there's actually a really rich literary, tradition in Iceland despite. How sparsely, populated it, was but. Again the Icelanders, kind of toiled, on through the centuries and, this remote little outpost kind, of the the poor country, backward backwater. Of the. Scandinavians. There, were really no cities or towns it was part of Norway for a few hundred years and then it became part of Denmark for a few hundred years but it was always kind of an afterthought, and then, in the middle, of the nineteenth century about when there were a lot of independence, movements going across Europe it, happened in Iceland as well and they said you know what we don't want to have to go to university, in Copenhagen, just, because we're from Iceland which was the only option at that time we want our own universities, we want to be considered our own culture our own entity.
It, Was a gradual process but in 1943. Finally, officially, Iceland became an independent country that. Gives you a sense of how young Iceland is as an independent country around that same time, world. War two was going on and the United States the Allies technically, occupied, Iceland, they, weren't invited there but they said you know we need a base partway to Europe and they built a giant airport they're called. Keffe oblique which, is still the International, Airport that you will arrive at when you go to Iceland today it was built by the US military and that's part of the reason people go to Iceland because there's this big military airport that's perfect for Iceland, air 747s. And makes it viable as a stopover place for all of these transcontinental. Flights, you've. Heard a lot about Iceland, probably in recent, years all of a sudden it's in the news everywhere. 2008. The global financial crisis, you might know wracked Iceland, particularly, hard it just sent their currency, the krona plummeting, it was a really tough time in Iceland they had done, a lot of very unwise spec, relating a lot of the kinds of investment, that got us into trouble in the United States we're done sort, of with a vengeance in Iceland but it's been really remarkable to see how well things have bounced back the, place is really in recovery more than in recovery it's doing great which, I think speaks to something about the Icelandic, character, Icelanders. Are very can-do, people there's sort of the Scandinavian nose, to the grindstone work ethic type people but, also they have this pioneer mentality, you have to make it work right they live in this really, rugged remote place. Where they just have to look out for themselves and they figure how to make a way to make it work the. Other reason why you might have heard about Iceland, recently is it's incredibly. Popular with tourists. These days if you, want to know what exponential. Looks like this, is what exponential, looks like this is visits, of Americans. To Iceland starting. In 2003. And around 2010. You can see it just spikes, like crazy in. 2016. More. Americans. Visited Iceland than the people who live in Iceland. Yeah. And that's probably why you're watching this class right now for.
A Good reason it's a great place to visit I also think this is though a good reminder that this is a place that's kind of grappling with this sudden, very. Dramatic, popularity, I'm amazed, at how well they're handling it again this is sort of the spirit of the Iceland or the pioneer spirit we're gonna make this work working, on our guidebook I drive around in the countryside and I come to some farmhouse B&B and I, go in and I say oh I see you have five rooms in your brochures they, say well we had we had five rooms we're building ten more in a new building across the street this. Is how Icelanders, operate they're just saying you know roll up your sleeves and let's make the most of it and let's take care of these tourists and so I would, say be, thoughtful. And respectful the fact that they're dealing with sort of this whole new culture of tourism but they're handling it very well is the good news I find. Icelanders, by the way just delightful I really, enjoy spending time with them most. Icelanders, and the tourist trade speak great English they've. Got a great personality I, would, say this is one of the treats of going to Iceland and if you're going to Iceland it would be really easy to go for a few days and never really talk, to an Icelander because, there's so much tourism and a lot of its concentrated, in a few places so I would challenge you to actually get out and try to meet a few Icelandic, people and learn a little bit about what it's like to live in this, unique part of the world they have a lifestyle there that there's, really nothing like it anywhere else and as well a few. Things that might help you in getting used, to Iceland, they. Have basically the same alphabet we do but they have some different letters and I will be honest Icelandic, is difficult, to pronounce there's, very long words they have a way of stacking up words to create much longer words it's. A Scandinavian language, okay so if you are familiar I've, heard Norwegian, or Swedish or Danish some, of it might be a little bit familiar, but. For someone visiting for a couple days it can be a little overwhelming, again not, too much of a language barrier but if you want to try to sound things out I'm gonna give you a few clues the key things that are big differences that most likely trip up a tourist the, first one are these two letters okay, these both are letters that would be translated, as a th in English the first one is called a thorn it looks like a P with a little stick coming off the top that, would be an unvoiced, th sound like. The word breath, so. It's the just, a simple sound. This. Is called. The EV and it's a D with a little cross on it and that's, a voiced, th sound like the, like, breathe so. This is breath and this, is breathe if that makes sense to. Help you get your head around this let's talk about a couple of sort. Of Icelandic, figures that you're probably familiar with I mentioned, that the Icelanders, were part of the Old Norse tradition does anyone know who the Old Norse god of thunder was. Thor. Right, Thor, we. Call him Thor in English the. Icelanders, also call him for, Thor. That's. That letter the. Thorn it looks like a P but it's pronounced like a th a soft, an unvoiced th thought. Does. Anyone know who Thor's father, is. Odin. Okay. Whom, Icelanders, call Oh Dean. Oh Dean. That's. The D with the cross which is a voiced th sound Thor. Hath a o bean, the, the the these. Are probably the letters that most trip up tourists, a couple, other letters to be aware of in terms of pronunciation and by the way I could do a whole class just on pronouncing, Icelandic, but.
The Other two I think that are the most confusing like, in a lot of European languages a J is pronounced like a Y that's pretty common especially Scandinavian. Or German languages a double. L is surprising. It has kind of a TL sound if you're familiar with Welsh spoken, in the United Kingdom spoken, in Wales they, have a very similar sound a double L is a TL, sound at wah plus sound as I. Go through the talk I'll point out situations. Where these occur and give you a chance to sort of hear what they sound like and let me say I am, far from an expert at pronouncing Icelandic, I'm, just learning myself but I think sometimes it helps to kind of get your ears around hearing, a non-native speaker say some of these words so you can start to train your brain for, what you're supposed to do let's. Talk about another famous, Icelander. Maybe the most famous Icelander, Bjork. International. Pop star, idiosyncratic. Fashionista. And, proud Icelander, there's, that J this is the J that sounds like a why Bjork. Icelandic. Has the umlaut over the oh just like in German so if you're familiar with German that's the same letter you. Might not know this but New, York's last name is booth moons did, booth, moons, did, that's the th, sound, that's a voice, th both. The ones doctor that's an interesting word what's, interesting about the way Icelanders, form their names is their patronage, they're not hereditary in other words you form your name using your father or sometimes your mother's first name followed, by son or daughter so, Bjork's last name last name or surname is Bjork. Daughter, of Guth moons with moons daughter okay. This is the same not for all Icelanders, but for most Icelanders, they still follow this tradition the. Other interesting thing about Icelandic, names as Icelanders, are all on a first-name basis, it's, probably partly because they don't have these hereditary, last names that follow them through generations, so the last name is a little less important, if you run into this president. On the, streets of Reykjavik, you, would say well hello BRD you, wouldn't say oh hello mr. president, to, us that seems kind of informal, but that's just the way Icelanders, do it actually. Using. Someone's full first name is considered, very formal, everyone. Has a nickname that only their friends can use so that these are sort of these interesting little characteristics, of Icelandic, culture the. Icelandic, currency, is the kroner which is similar to the currency, and other Scandinavian, countries Norway and Sweden in the case of Iceland, it's about a hundred kroner to the dollar and that makes it pretty easy to, convert things in your mind you just sort of chop off two zeros at the end very roughly it fluctuates but that's the general idea, but, by the way you probably are, rarely, going to see actual. Cash kroner because, Iceland is very much a credit, card based economy. You will pay for everything, with a credit card you will pay for a pack of gum at a convenience store with, a credit card you, will sometimes pay for using the bathroom with a credit card you, could very easily spend, several, days in Iceland and never actually get out any local cash and you'll probably be okay I think it's a good idea just to get out maybe 10, 15 20 dollars worth of Icelandic, cash when you arrive just so you have it for the rare cases where you need it which would be situations like paying, for a bathroom, in a place that doesn't take credit cards.
It's. Also helpful, to know that Icelanders, don't tip so if you're going to a restaurant tipping. Is never part of their custom there you never have to tip at all which is another reason why you don't need to be carrying around a lot of cash now. This, is fortunate, because Iceland, is very expensive I'll talk about that more in a minute but probably, the main thing I would say as a warning if there's, any downside to travelling to Iceland it's, a little bit cold but also it's very expensive so you just need to be prepared for that before, I move on from this topic though I wanted to point out, Icelanders, use the chip-and-pin system and more and more Americans. Are comfortable with this but occasionally, American, Chip, and PIN cards don't work in Icelandic, pay points I didn't have this occurred, to me very often in Iceland where, it's most likely to happen would be like an automatic automated. Gas station, the, only way that you can avoid this is don't let your gas tank get too low if you're in the middle of the countryside you don't want to wait too long to get gas in case the one gas station for 20 miles doesn't take your kind of credit card other, than that I think there's not too many situations, where this would trip you up most of the time your credit card will will work fine so, let's. Talk a little more about this very expensive, aspect. Of going to Iceland. Compared. To even. The most expensive, parts of Europe on thinking places like Norway, maybe. Even Switzerland Iceland. Is really at the top of that scale so. A simple, not, simple but a straightforward business, class hotel room in downtown Reykjavik, is gonna be about $300, 250, $300, something, you might expect to pay 150. 200 dollars for in most of Europe if, you want to stay in a guest house with a shared bathroom you can save a fair amount of money that might be a hundred, hundred and fifty dollars maybe about half so. Just be prepared when you're thinking about prices, in Icelandic, it's always gonna be a little bit higher so. There's two options that I just mentioned there's hotels traditional, hooked like you have anywhere there's. A big custom for guest houses and very often guest houses have either, partly, or exclusively, rooms with shared bathroom, that's the way to keep the cost down so if you're looking at a guest house and Iceland be, aware that there's very likely a non, bathroom, option there and sometimes that's the only choice you have for. This reason the expensive accommodations, I find, it, works really well to use Aran air B&B and maybe, some other apartment rental sites of that of that type this allows Icelanders. Who own property to rent it out at. Prices, to people. Like us tourists that aren't breaking the bank but also allow those local people to make a little bit of income out of it as, a concrete, example on a recent visit to Iceland I was in Reykjavik for quite a while so I switched around I went to three different area Airbnb, and each one was quite different one of them was a downtown, apartment right, in the center of Reykjavik a big, spacious one-bedroom, apartment, with a living room in the kitchen another. One was a beautiful, little. Bottom. Floor of a family home again a big spacious one-bedroom, apartment, on, the, suburban part of Reykjavik facing the water a long, walker short drive from downtown and then, the other one was actually my own house, in a little bedroom community, about a half hour drive outside, of Reykjavik each, of these properties cost me about a hundred and fifty dollars hundred, and sixty dollars okay. So that's about the cost of the guest house downtown, with a shared bathroom you, can get your own house or your, own apartment downtown with your own bathroom and so forth for about the same price for that reason I think people who are thinking, about budget. When they're looking at Iceland are finding that Airbnb, is a great a great choice. Let's. Talk a little bit about Icelandic, food and of course this is shaped by this. Remote location of, Iceland the hard scrabble pioneer, lifestyle. Unfortunately. And I think sort. Of, unjustifiably. Iceland. Is mostly famous for its gross foods its hardship foods right because. When you're living on an island in the middle of nowhere and it's winter you just need to eat something so you have things like fish jerky you have things like the, head of a lamb, that's just served right there on a plate so you can pick away at the cheek meat and the, most famous the Greenland, shark sometimes, called the rotted shark which, is actually a little chunk of shark that's been fermented, buried, underground and, allowed to ferment and it kind of has a fish in ammonia flavor, it's really nice.
Icelanders. Who are watching this are rolling their eyes and saying they're talking about the rotted shark again we don't ever eat rotted shark and that's why I say this is traditional. This is old-school Icelandic. I'm here to tell you today Iceland, has a fantastic, food scene I consider myself something, of a foodie and I've been really impressed by the quality of the food in Iceland you, have excellent lamb in Iceland there are aficionados, who would say the best lamb you can get anywhere is in, Iceland because they have the countryside of rolling, pastures and the Lambs are grazing and there's just a certain flavor, to, the meat that people really say is special in Iceland and as, you might imagine they, also have great seafood in Iceland great fish, they, have great they called them a lobster but it's what we might call a langoustine, a kind of a smaller lobster, or a very large shrimp really, delectable, seafood there's. A great variety of restaurants all, over Iceland, you've got trendy, big eating halls you've got inviting. Outdoor seating it's a very cold climate but, when it's nice everyone gets out and sits out on the sidewalk to enjoy so. I've been talking about the budgetary, concerns Iceland, food is also very, expensive and this is the one that could really hurt you might think 150. Bucks for an air B&B no big deal to, get a pretty, basic sit-down, restaurant, dinner in Reykjavik. Entrees, are gonna be around $40, per. Person 30 40 dollars a person. This. Might sound a little backwards, but when a basic, dinner costs, 40 dollars you, can get a really great dinner for 50 or 60 dollars so, I find myself justifying. Going to nicer restaurants in Iceland you can't get a twenty dollar dinner unless, it's groceries, or hotdogs okay so, if you want to go to a restaurant you might as well kind of go all out and do it great I have a couple of favorites that we mentioned in our Rick Steves Iceland guidebook that. You can get a great dinner here for 50 60 70 dollars a person and it's gonna be a memorable dinner or, you could pay $40, a person for a totally forgettable dinner totally practical dinner now. That assumes you want to go and have a nice dinner and of course there's other alternatives as well in Iceland my, big tip here if you want to save money and eat really well in Iceland have your big special. Restaurant meal at lunch even. The nicest restaurants, in Iceland have amazing, lunch specials, they have a fish of the day usually. For 25-30. Dollars now, that sounds like a lot for lunch but. Again your alternative, is a 15 dollar hot dog it's not that tough to spend $25, on a plate food like this have, your big meal at lunch and then you can do something a little more basic for dinner you can go to get some groceries and have a picnic you can order a pizza that sort of thing which would be more in the twenty twenty dollar range if you want to order a pizza so, that's my favorite budget tip for eating affordably in Iceland also, especially, again at lunchtime you look for soup and bread buffets, this is a custom, all over Iceland in the city also throughout the countryside bakeries, and cafes will have an all you can eat soup, buffet with, all the bread you can eat and all, the water you can drink and all the coffee you can drink usually, for fifteen, or twenty dollars which.
Again Sounds like a lot for lunch but you can fill up you can have six bowls of soup and then you can then. You can graze on vegetables, for dinner if you want again, this is a good budget tip look for the the, unlimited, soup, and bread buffet at lunchtime, one. Other thing about iceland food I feel like I have to talk about Icelandic. Food is newly trendy here in the United States this is ski 'add which is sort of similar to like a Greek, yogurt but. Has a very long tradition in Iceland it's an interesting way. That Iceland, and and sort of some of the foods that are popular, in Iceland are starting to spread out and become, popular here stateside as well it's one more way in which the, world is becoming more aware of iceland, iceland, also has a good, drinking, culture they've got a really good micro beer culture so, if you like to go to a micro brewery and taste. What people are doing locally, in terms of interesting brews that's, really a trendy thing right now in all, over iceland but especially in reykjavik, alcohol. Prices of course are very very high one, tip if you want to stock up on some booze before your trip to Iceland you buy it at the duty-free store when you arrive at the airport it's cheaper than anywhere else in the country my. Other tip for this is there's some really fun bars if you want to go out for a drink of course that's that's a must some. Really fun bars with micro. Brews and with cocktails, and Reykjavik but bars tend to have a really good happy, hour so if you're willing to go a little bit earlier sometimes, they cut the price even in half if you go to this bar and get this really. Nice glass of Icelandic. Microbrew, in the, evening later on it might cost you fifteen or twenty dollars if you go for happy hour it might be ten or twelve dollars okay, so that's a good tip for saving money while still enjoying Icelandic. Drinks, because. Of Iceland's unique landscape, and unique, terrain you, have to take certain things into consideration when you're making an itinerary and the first thing you have to think about do, you want to go in this summer or the winter and there's a huge difference between.
Iceland, And the summer and Iceland in the winter this of course is the land of the Midnight Sun it's. At about the latitude of Fairbanks Alaska I took this picture at 11:30. At night in early. June the Sun technically, sets but. It doesn't set for very long it's 2 or 3 hours and it never really gets dark I'd happen to love this because I love to pack as much sightseeing as possible into a day I love going in this summer because you could spend a whole day sightseeing, around Reykjavik, and around. 4:00 in the afternoon and get in your car drive deep into the countryside and have an eight-hour road trip and come, back to Reykjavik, exhausted, but it's still light outside and, especially because so many people are going to Iceland for just a day or to go, in the summer if you want to really make the most of your daylight hours you. Can go to Iceland in the winter in fact the Icelandic, tourist board is trying to promote winter travel because the summer is getting crowded and by the way when I say summer I'm talking, July in August Iceland has a very short summer season, because, of its northern latitudes it starts getting quite cold in September and, even. In early June it could be quite frigid, it's, not exactly warm in July and August but that has your highest chance of having, a little bit better weather meanwhile. Iceland is a very long winter and the days are as short in the winter as they are long in the summer the reason why people consider, going to Iceland in the winter is because they want to see the Northern Lights and that makes a lot of sense I don't, want to be a total cynic or a sceptic about this I think it's great if you want to see the Northern Lights but keep in mind you're making a lot of other trade-offs in order to see it for one thing you, can never be guaranteed of seeing the Northern Light so it can be very cloudy in Iceland you could be there for days and it just never clears, enough that you can see them second. Of all any picture you see like this of the Northern Lights these, bright vivid glowing. Sort. Of swirling, patterns, in the sky was, taken with a very special, camera and was, later manipulated, and when you go on your Northern Lights trip in December. You're gonna get a picture like this. It's. Still impressive and the Northern Lights are still a setter of a majestic amazing, phenomenon, however, it's not necessarily, going to look like this the other thing I want to point out in this picture what do you notice in this picture I see, roads so. If you go in the wintertime you have a few hours of daylight the Sun rises in December at around, 11:00 11:30 it sets around 3:30.
So. You very limited daylight and the road maybe covered with snow and ice if you're going in the winter don't try to get ambitious and go away into the countryside you're gonna have to probably stick closer to Reykjavik but, again that said if you really want to see the Northern Lights that's the only chance you're gonna get to see them the Sun never sets in the summer so, you will never see the Northern Lights in the summer okay, so don't go don't go in July thinking well maybe we'll catch a look at the Northern Lights. Regardless. Of when you go to Iceland. Be. Prepared, for cold weather this is the billboard, for, an Icelandic, kind of Iceland's, version of REI and Icelandic outfitter, for, the outdoors and their slogan is waiting for summer since 1926. In. July and August you see people in parkas and winter, hats and gloves don't, worry about bringing a special winter coat in the summer but we bring plenty of layers if you have a lightweight hat or lightweight gloves bring them you, might have beautiful sunshine, and it might actually crack 60, degrees on some days on, other days there could be howling. Wind in fact my, Icelandic friend Ian told me that, Icelanders, don't consider good weather son, they consider good weather not windy it's really the wind when you're on this island nation in the North Atlantic the wind howling through was what's really frigid so, just be prepared for. Chilly. Temperatures, even if you're going in the peak of summer. In. Terms of your specific itinerary. I want to give you a few ways of looking at how you plan your time and Iceland depending on if you're going short or a little bit longer a lot. Of people are going to Iceland on a very quick layover, people, are going to Iceland for 24, hours 48, hours 72 hours, and I, would say if that's all you have for Iceland make the most of it I wouldn't discourage you from doing that it's really worth attempting it but you want to be really well organized and prioritized, things smartly, for, a very short layover, of one, to three days here's. The kind of revolutionary, tip don't spend, a lot of time in Reykjavik spend, the night in Reykjavik, it's a fantastic, home base it's got great restaurants great nightlife if you're there in summer it's, light out all the time anyway so you can come back from a busy, day of sightseeing a 10:00 p.m. and still be able to go for a nice sunny. Stroll, outside. Spend, the night in Reykjavik, but you're in Iceland, not necessarily, for Reykjavik, you're a nice limb for the natural, wonders, of the countryside so, if I had one day in Iceland I would, let's, say for example arrive, in the morning I would, go to the Blue Lagoon, is the famous Spa on the way from the airport into Reykjavik, I would, have lunch in Reykjavik, I might, spend a couple hours poking, around but, mid-afternoon if it's summer and it's light I would, get in my car and spend several hours driving into the countryside collapse. Back at my Reykjavik hotel at midnight get, a few hours sleep wake up go to the airport and fly to my next destination if, that's all you have 24, hours that's a great way to spend it and you'll get a nice variety of sights if you have a little more time you, can add more day trips I'll talk a little later about the specifics, favourite side trips are the Blue Lagoon the Golden Circle and the south coast if you're going for two days pick two of them if you're going for three days pick all three and again. I'll talk a little later about some of the details of how this works Reiki, mix here blue, lagoons 45 minutes away Golden. Circle is in, the countryside to the east south coast is down here on a short visit I would basically combine. The Blue Lagoon with your airport arrival or departure, spend. Some time on the Golden Circle it takes about a day spend. Some time in the south coast it takes about a day if, you have a little bit more time for six seven eight, days you. Can have time for all of those side trips you can add more side trips there's a great spot I love called the Westman Islands if you had a fourth day that's what I would spend my, time on the Westman Islands then, you have more time for hanging out around Reykjavik, okay so if you've got five or six days I would, devote at least a good day of sightseeing in Reykjavik maybe.
Do A whale watching trip maybe take an excursion into the countryside for. Some adventure sports hiking across a glacier that sort of thing if. You have more time if you have at least nine days now. We're really talking now we're talking about the ultimate Icelandic, roadtrip which is the Ring Road the Ring Road is a road that goes all the way around Iceland, and lets you see all of the. Dramatic, landscapes, in the distant corners of this country you. Don't want to attempt the Ring Road if you have less than about seven days or eight days let's say so, if you're just going for three or four days don't try to squeeze it in because once you start half way around you really have to go all the rest of the way around it's. Not something that should be rushed this, is for somebody who's not just doing a quick layover this is for somebody who really wants to see Iceland at the end of this talk I'll narrate what you would see if you did the whole Ring Road Trip by. The way if you are just going to Reykjavik, for a day or two one. Of my colleagues Kevin, Williams did a class like this one covering, the highlights of Reykjavik so he offers sort of a different perspective and a really bit more of a focus on reykjavik, specifically, than, this dock has so I encourage you to check that one out now. That we've talked about what we're doing in Iceland let's talk about how we're gonna get there. The. Short answer to this is you probably want to run a car and, the reason for that is you might think well it'd be cheaper to take public transportation, if you're, only going to Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon public. Transportation, is fine it's easy to get a transfer from the airport to the Blue Lagoon from the Blue Lagoon downtown, and from downtown back to the airport but, if you want to get out into these spectacular bits of countryside the, Golden Circle the south coast there is no public transportation, that really connects that you're, gonna have to pay for an excursion ok, and an excursion can cost a hundred hundred fifty two hundred dollars per person per, excursion, when, you start adding up those costs pretty quickly it, becomes affordable to rent a car in Iceland, when you might not have thought for two days of course we're not gonna rent a car we're only there for two days well if you're spending one of those days at the Golden Circle one, of those days at the south coast a car, rental split between two people is less, expensive than. The total of four excursions, two excursions, for two people each if you follow my logic here I'm so really think carefully about driving in Iceland and I would say Iceland's a relatively easy place to drive one, important thing to think about when you imagine renting a car in Iceland especially with some of the pictures I'll show you you, might think you need some sort of a monster truck a 4x4, Jeep right to.
Get To this landscape everything. I'm gonna describe in this class everything. In the best two weeks Iceland, has to offer can be done in a tiny little car like this, there. Are a few gravel roads where you're gonna have to slow down and be a little careful steering, and some unique challenges of driving in Iceland but all of the roads in the summer are passable. By a basic two-wheel, drive car so don't invest in a big 4x4 unless, you are really doing some hiking and camping and getting way off the beaten track into the highlands of Iceland. So. That's my summary of what I think every traveler needs to know logistical, II in terms of skills sleeping, eating transportation. When they're going to Iceland and how to make an itinerary. For. Most people the first place you're gonna go is Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland and like, Iceland itself it's a pretty small comfortable. Compact place there's. Only about a hundred and twenty thousand people in Reykjavik the, metro area is about double that so about, two-thirds, of all Icelanders, live in the metro area of Reykjavik for, comparison, that's about the population, of Topeka Kansas. Charleston South Carolina, so reykjavik is an international. Capital, a national capital with a seat at the UN and. A president who goes to cocktail, parties with, the, presidents of other nations but. It's a really small community, so let's not forget that one. Thing that surprises a lot of people about, Reykjavik is how small and compact it is and how, kind of American, it feels okay, technically. I, think we consider Iceland, part of Europe but. It really feels more like an American, city that's because it's so young remember, that there weren't really any cities or towns and Iceland until the late 19th century. Reykjavik. Is younger than a lot of American cities which means a very predictable grid plan you're not gonna find a cutesy, cobbled. Half-timbered, old town where, it's impossible to drive okay it's designed for suburban, nights driving into town and finding parking I love. To just kind of wander around Reykjavik. It doesn't have a lot of big-league sights but it's extremely, charming just to explore you can wander over to the Parliament, Square yes this sweet little two-story, stone building is the Parliament of Iceland just to give you a sense of sort, of the humility of the Icelandic culture, uh, and I said it wasn't really charming, or cutesy or old-world but that doesn't mean it's not appealing it has sort of its own identity and its own charm and they. Really love color in Reykjavik, and in Iceland in general I think when you have long gloomy winters where it barely gets sunny out you just want to paint everything in bright colors as you. Walk around Reykjavik, tune into some of the details that tell you a little bit about Icelandic, culture more broadly for example, a lot of the buildings all over Iceland, especially, Reykjavik, are brightly painted and they're, actually kind of a steel siding a corrugated, steel siding, which is very practical given, the harsh climate these, people live in and, again they love to paint them beautiful colors the other thing you might notice wandering, around Reykjavik, everyone.
Has A little window that's designed to pop open a few inches and, the reason for this is really interesting, I'll. Talk a little bit more later about how Iceland, is a very volcanic, island and the, Icelanders, have figured out ingenious way ingenious. Ways to dig bore holes deep into the Earth's crust harness. Naturally, heated water and delivered. In pipelines, all the way into Reykjavik, to heat homes, it, also comes out of your tap so, when you first get to your Iceland hotel and you turn on the hot water you'll notice it's pretty, scalding, water so be careful you will also notice a slight sulfur, smell and that's, because the hot water literally, comes from deep, below the earth's crust in the countryside because. Everyone has a radiator and heating. Costs are very low rather, than worry about tinkering with the radiator all the times even in the winter when it gets a little stuffy they just prop open a window so, it's kind of fun to notice these little details they, tell you about how Iceland is different from what you're used to. If. Reykjavik, is a great strolling, city and it really is probably, the best Street to stroll is this one log of a good this is sort of the main walking, shopping, dining. And nightlife strip, running through the middle of Reykjavik it's, just a delightful place to window-shop drop, into a cafe. Maybe, buy a parka, if you forgot to pack warm enough go, to a restaurant look at menus for dinner later tonight. When. I'm in Iceland I like to kind of develop a local routine, right I really feel like I'm part of the community one of the things I do is I find my favorite places to go for breakfast every morning my favorite coffee shop which is just off of Lago. Vaguer street it's, called Reykjavik Roasters really, top quality third wave gourmet, coffee that, rivals anything you can get into Seattle and then. Right across the street in this wildly. Graffiti, building, is my favorite bakery in Reykjavik, it's called Bravo Coco bread and company and it has fantastic, sort of Scandinavian, style sweet rolls cinnamon, buns that sort of thing so every morning I love to go get my coffee at Reykjavik Roasters and get my cinnamon bun and set, out and enjoy, being, part of Reykjavik life so really tried to become part of the culture another. Thing that's interesting that you'll really notice in Reykjavik is fantastic, street art and, this is something you'll see in other parts of Europe as well which is that civic. Authorities and, homeowners have found if you give somebody a big blank wall it's only a matter of time before someone comes and tags, it with ugly graffiti and so, they actually commissioned. Street. Artists, to come and create beautiful, murals instead because if they don't create, the art on these buildings somebody, else is going to come and mark it up however they see fit what they find is the graffiti taggers respect, that if it's been decorated by an artist they're not going to deface the art so. It's really enjoyable especially, to get off on the back streets of Reykjavik and explore, some of the great street art that you find here in. General Reykjavik. Is a really colorful city to explore and it's, a great place to go shopping I'm not much of a shopper but there are a few interesting things to consider one thing you might have heard about are the famous Icelandic, sweaters these are heavy woolen sweaters, with, kind of a circular. Pattern that radiates from the neck if. You're interested in a nice landok sweater though I will warn you they're very expensive, a quality, Icelandic. Sweater could be 250. $300. Here's, a budget tip Salvation. Army and the Red Cross have thrift stores in downtown reykjavik, where, you can buy some Icelanders. Used Icelandic. Sweater for about half that price it, sounds kind of silly but if you want a solid well. Loved but in good quality icelandic. Sweaty for a hundred dollars one hundred and fifty dollars that's, a good budget alternative. As. You're walking around downtown reykjavik, sometimes you'll feel pulled up to, this steeple, that kind of is on a hilltop it marks the center of the town and, exerts kind of a special, magnetism this is the main Lutheran, Church of Reykjavik.
It's Called the hot libitum Ischia, and it's, actually designed to echo the, basalt. Lava rock formations, that you see all over Iceland, I'll show you some slides later of the countryside where, you'll get a sense. Of how these are supposed to sort of echo the Icelandic landscape, built, in the early 20th century by. Iceland state architect who actually built a lot of the buildings around Iceland and especially around Reykjavik, it's got a beautiful serene, Lutheran, interior, and you can actually take an elevator up to the top of the steeple and get, a beautiful view over the Reykjavik, skyline, but, remember this is a city the size of Topeka Kansas this gives you a sense this is not a thriving. Metropolis it's, a great charming town but it's not bustling, by any stretch of the imagination, standing. In front of the Haganah mukhya, you, have a statue of Leif Ericson this. Was the most likely the first European, to set foot in the new world about a 500, years before Christopher Columbus and, I, find Icelandic, history sort. Of insistently. Interesting, when you start to hear, about it it's very epic. And dynamic, this is a case where his father Eric the Red the, famous Eric the Red he's, Leif Ericson, typical. Icelandic name, Leif Ericson Eric the red actually was an Icelander who, was evicted and sent to Greenland and he created some settlements in Greenland and then his son Leif, Erikson decided, to follow reports, that there was some other land form to the west and they, believe that around the Year 1000. Or maybe the late 900 s he touched down in what is today Newfoundland, Canada so. Very likely he preceded, Christopher, Columbus by about five hundred years that tells you a little bit about the Icelandic, seafaring, spirit and they're kind of negation 'l prowess, I, would. Say reykjavík is not a place that you want to do a lot of sightseeing, it's not a place to spend a lot of time in museums that's why I mentioned, spending. Some evenings in Reykjavik is fantastic, for the restaurants, and for the nightlife and for going for walks but if you're in town for two or three days you don't necessarily need, to devote a whole day to sightsee, Reykjavik if you, do have some time to sightsee Reykjavik, and especially if you're interested in Icelandic, culture and history there are some things to do this is the settlement exhibition, where they've discovered, and excavated, a. Viking, Age longhouse, from around the Year 1000, and they've got great exhibits that kind of tell you how those original, Icelandic, settlers would have lived way back then there's. Also an Icelandic National, Museum which, has an interesting collection of a fairly modest, artifacts. From Icelandic history but, they're lovingly presented, and very, well described and they help you kind of understand, the story of Iceland a little bit better another. Place that's fun to explore in Reykjavik, is the harbour front area, there. You're gonna find the landmark concert hall called harpa this is pretty new it was built in about 2011, and this was part of Iceland's kind of trying. To put itself forward on the on the national the global, stage they wanted to kind of assert themselves as a serious. Capital like. Oslo, with its famous Opera House or Sydney with its famous Opera House they really wanted to feel like they were a world-class City and they built this and sure enough the Harpo Concert Hall was getting a lot of attention internationally. It's kind of the main modern landmark of Reykjavik. And the, inside is really fun to wander around it's free to go inside and just kind of explore the concert hall they also have a lot of great musical events so if you're gonna be in Reykjavik for a few nights and want to check out some live theatre some live music there's, a great lineup of options at the Harpo concert hall they have several venues from large to small and usually, a few selections every night another.
Landmark, Of Reykjavik that's pretty new that's, just down the coast line from the Harpo Concert Hall is this sculpture called the Sun Voyager, it's, relatively, new but it's already been really embraced a sort of the place to take a selfie where, you're when you're in Reykjavik these days it, shapes sort of like a Viking Age ship, kind of an homage to the original settlers who came across from Norway to settle Iceland and it's pointed, towards the Setting Sun so. There's sort of this poetic inspiration, behind, it if. You really want to get out on the water yourself, another, popular pastime in Reykjavik are whale watching cruises, I would, say not, necessarily don't, do well why Cruise's but keep in mind for a lot of people they find it's a big investment of time a big investment of money it can be rough it can be windy if, you're, really into this it can be a fun experience if you want to save a little money and be more efficient and be guaranteed of seeing whales there's a really interesting exhibit. Called the whales of Iceland, which. Is a, five. Minute 10-minute walk away from the whale watching cruises and it's actually a really cool thing they filled a big warehouse in a big box store zone with life-size, models, of all the many whales that live off the coast of Iceland and. People can kind of walk around and really feel like oh this is this, is what I would have seen except. I would have seen this much of it if I'd gone on that whale watching cruise it's, pretty expensive but I'd say this is worth doing if you're interested in the whales of Iceland so, you can see where just in general Reykjavik, is a great city a great place to spend time and. Great. Place to especially home base and spend a few nights and if you have a few days to spare there's some great sightseeing there as well Reykjavik. Is a great city but for a lot of people what they really want to do in Iceland is get out into the countryside and fortunately, some of the most beautiful parts of Iceland are a short drive from downtown Reykjavik. So I want to go through I would, say the four most popular day. Trips from Reykjavik the things that you might be able to fit in even if you're only in town for a day or two these, are the ones that you'll be choosing from if you're gonna have two or three days to spend just to give you your bearings Reykjavik, is right here the Blue Lagoon the famous spas right by the airport about 45, minutes away the. Golden Circle is a countryside, drive to, the east of Reykjavik, the. South coast is about an hour and a half south. East of Reykjavik, there's some great sights in this area and the last one I'll talk about is a little less known but I think it's great the Westman Islands which are just offshore from the south coast so, I'm gonna go through each one of those so you can kind of consider your options depending, on how much time you have for. A. Lot of people maybe one of the main reasons they go to Iceland is to go to the Blue Lagoon this is this very famous beautiful. Thermal, spa waters, about a hundred degrees you're, surrounded by volcanic. Rock so, in some cases there's, actually steam vents coming out of the volcanic rock because, of the unique mineral, composition, of the water it's got kind of a blue Sheen that's where it gets its name I'm. Not here to tell you not to go to the Blue Lagoon I love the blue logo and I think it's great but, I think it's good to know a little bit more about it and make an informed decision the, reason for that is it's expensive a ticket, to the Blue Lagoon starts, at about 100. Per. Person if you go early in the day or later in the day you might get an $80 ticket or even a $70 ticket but plan on spending about $100 per person but. Let me tell you a little bit about the experience and you can make the decision for yourself. Isolators. Think the Blue Lagoon is kind of a strange phenomenon, most Icelanders, wouldn't go here first of all they never pay that much they, see this kind of a tourist trap they also think it's kind of funny because the Blue Lagoon started, as sort of excess, water from a geothermal plant okay, they, built this plant here in the background, they.
Realized So they dug holes into the ground they pulled up this water they realized they couldn't use the water as it was but they could use that water to heat other water fresher, water pure water that they could then send into communities, for drinking water but. Then they had to do something with all the extra water that they just extracted, this heat from it was still pretty hot so, they would just dump it in the lava plane next to the plant and suddenly, people started showing up in the middle of nowhere and swimming, in this really warm beautiful water and someone. Had the great idea let's turn this into a tourist attraction and, now it's the most tourist attraction, most popular tourist attraction, in Iceland. Don't. Be grossed out by this it's all natural water it was just used to heat other water it wasn't processed in any way but, just be aware that that's sort of the history of it the. Blue Lagoon is just a fun experience to Bob around and enjoy swimming you, can see there's kind of a white film that builds up on the rocks of the Blue Lagoon and, you can swim up to this stand of the Blue Lagoon and they'll give you some white, goop that you put on your face and it's supposed to have sort. Of exfoliant. Properties, I don't know if it really works but. When. You're in Iceland you got a try putting. This stuff on your face. One. Interesting thing about the Blue Lagoon logistical, II is it's close to the airport so the main International, Airport where you're arriving in Iceland is about 45, minutes from Reykjavik, the, Blue Lagoon is about ten minutes from that Airport so here's a really good tip for efficient, sightseeing, if you're, arriving early in the day go, straight to the Blue Lagoon enjoy, it there and then continue from there on into Reykjavik, if, you're flying out late in the day you, could do the opposite you could leave Reykjavik midday go to the Blue Lagoon have an afternoon there and then board your late flight and that, would be the most relaxed flight you'll probably ever have coming straight from the Blue Lagoon so just be aware of that logistical, part, of it the, other thing you really need to know about the Blue Lagoon it requires, reservations. And it, can book up the best that's the most desirable slots can hook up a couple weeks ahead even or longer in peak season so, if you're gonna go to the Blue Lagoon and especially if you're trying to coordinate it with your flight time be sure to get your booking ahead of time it's, very unlikely you'll be able to get in if you don't have an advance reservation. I mentioned. Earlier that Icelanders, are a little skeptical about the Blue Lagoon partly, because of the expense the, reason why is be, aware the, Blue Lagoon is sort of the ultimate, example, of, the Icelandic thermal, bathing culture but it's not the only example there. Are about a dozen you Nissa pool swimming pools around Reykjavik, that have water just as hot as the Blue Lagoon and a ticket cost one-tenth, as much now. You might look at this and say why would I go to a municipal, swimming pool in Iceland but you might not realize is the water in the main pool is about eighty-five, degrees and the, water and the smaller pools is about a hundred degrees so it's not just a normal swimming pool and it's all naturally, heated water that comes straight from underneath. The earth this. Is also a very Icelandic, experience, as I, mentioned if you're in Iceland for just a few days you might find you're on a tourist trail and you don't really break out of that and have a truly Icelandic, experience, if you go to a suburban, Reykjavik. Thermal, swimming pool that, is an Icelandic experience, in Great. Britain at the end of a busy day of work people gather their families and they go down to the pub right, in Spain. And Italy at, the end of a long day's work people take their families wandering through the streets the paseo in spain the pasta jetta and italy if. There's a comparable. Situation of that in iceland it's that at the end of a school day or a work day people gather their kids and take them down to the thermal, swimming pool so if you go to one of these you'll. Be surrounded by 90%. Icelanders. If you go to the blue lagoon you'll, be surrounded by 99%, tourists. Doing. Both is a great option and. In fact I become sort of a hot water aficionado, when I'm in Iceland it's, not just Reykjavik, you.
See These signs all over the country in Iceland I think, every community with at least a hundred people has, somehow scraped together the resources to have a really top-notch municipal. Thermal, swimming pool heated by natural thermal water so if you're driving around Iceland and you're getting worn out and tired look for one of these signs stop, in there's a very specific procedure for, how you're supposed to come and go it, sounds, intimidating but it's really not if you know the rules and in the Rick Steves Iceland guidebook we have detailed, instructions, for how to do these thermo swimming pools there. Is also a variety of other they call them premium, thermal baths so you've got the municipal, swimming pool which is about 10 the person you've, got the Blue Lagoon which is a hundred bucks a person and then, there's four or five of these premium, thermal baths that are more like 40 or 50 dollars a person that are a little more catering to tourists but are not as inaccessible, to locals and there are a nice compromise I'll talk about a few of those as we go through the destinations. There. Are also some places you can go out in nature and be, in thermal waters this, is a little bit riskier you have to really know what you're doing and make sure you don't accidentally, get into a pool that's too hot but, if you have a good guidebook and get good information from locals be aware that there's opportunities, to get in hot water all over Iceland. So. We've talked about the Blue Lagoon the second, very. Popular day trip itinerary I would say the most popular day trip itinerary, is the Golden Circle the, Golden Circle is about a hundred and fifty mile loop Drive going. From Reykjavik into the Icelandic, interior connecting. Three major sites and lots, of other smaller sites if you choose along the way I would, say if there's any one kind. Of must-do site the quintessential, Icelandic day trip it would be the Golden Circle I happen, to like the south coast which we'll talk about next I would say there to be equally appealing for different reasons let, me tell you what you would do on the Golden Circle if you decide to do this this is 150, miles it takes about a day if you're in a hurry you could do it in 6-7. Hours if you, want to linger and have a meal along the way it could be 8 9 10 hours just to give you a sense the. First of the three main stops on the Golden Circle is this place now let's remember our Icelandic, language, lessons the. Big P with a stick on the top is the th sound and the. Two elves are a TL, sound, so this is pronounced thing, that cleared, thing. That cleared it's, often spelled in English with the th but it's not familiar it's things that we it just to get you a little. Bit of a sense of the Icelandic language. Things. That Liat is a great opportunity to, learn a little bit more about the geology of Iceland, we've. Talked about how Iceland is kind of in the middle of nowhere between, Europe and North America however. It happens to sit right along, the mid-atlantic Fault, which is technically the biggest. Mountain range in the world that just happens to be under the Atlantic Ocean this. Is where the North American. And the Eurasian tectonic, plates are pulling apart and this, is the reason why Iceland is so volcanically, active the. Fault between. Those two tectonic, plates actually. Cuts, right up through the middle of Iceland so anytime you talk about volcanoes, or thermal, springs in Iceland you're talking about something that's along this red line thing. That lid is right, here for example. So. One reason people like to go to thing Beckley is there's places where you can walk through chasms. Where, you have the impression that you're literally walking between continents, so more complicated, than that but essentially one, side of this picture is North America the other side of this picture is Europe. So, for geological reasons the thing that lid is very popular it's, also very popular for historical, reasons this is a very important, place for the Icelanders, because, where this flag is right here on this rock is we're, starting in the year 930, the Icelanders, had a great assembly, so all the Chieftains of all these widely scattered farms, all over the, desolate. Country of Iceland would come together once a year have, a big meeting making important decisions about, the future of their of their humble little country it's.
Called The all thing the all thing gathering for, that reason think that Liat is a very important, National Park and is sort of kind of the Constitution, Hall for Icelanders. They consider it kind of the birthplace of their civilization, so, if you're interested in the history of iceland that's another reason why this thing bitly it