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10 Things I Learnt Whilst in Iceland

  • IT IS COLD.

When we arrived it was at 0. IT IS FREEZING. Well not freezing, but it is incredibly bone chillingly cold, especially the wind. The main reason it’s so cold I actually think is because of the wind! It was -9 on the evening we went out to see the Northern Lights, and -7 the day we went too the Golden Circle Tour. It appeared that that closer to the city you were the warmer it was, and the further out of Reykjavik you were the colder it was due to so much open land and the wind. WRAP UP SO WARM, And don’t only take Adidas Gazelles with you, they will not protect your feet from the cold. Lesson Learnt. 

  • Icelandic Krona is very confusing.

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Its not actually so bad, but at the same time it is awfully confusing. Its all done in the thousands, like 1000 Krona is worth £7. The exchange rate is absolutely horrendous and everything in Iceland is still expensive. But its all absolutely worth the expense and the confusing currency. The currency realistically actually makes sense due to the pay and life in Reykjavik, for us visitors it seems high but for anyone who is living and working there it is completely normal and not to highly priced at all.

  • Getting around using just a map is refreshing.

Although we had out phones and we could use them just as if we were in the UK we were given a map by Blazej at the desk when we checked into our hostel! So we used that to get around the centre and it was wonderfully easy and nice to not really have to use google maps either! I usually live off an application on my phone called City Mapper which is really good but it was so nice for the two of us to figure out where we were on the map and find our way!

  • The Northern Lights is a normal and unexciting experience for those who live in Iceland.

You forget that if you live in Iceland the Northern Lights is a pretty bog standard thing. You can see them over the ocean from the seafront in the city if you’re lucky so you don’t really have to go on trips to see it, but if its not your usual occurrence then its a pretty big deal. After talking with some man at our hostel we discovered that he can watch the lights most nights from his hot tub in his back garden. I’m a little jealous if you ask me.

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  • Turns out, they don’t eat whale as much as we thought.

After wanted to try whale when we were out there as I had heard it was something they eat, I was very wrong. Turns out only 1.2% of the population of Iceland actually eat whale meat!! And its the same with Shark (which smells, bad). They only hunt it quite frequently, but the end result is not actually eating it! 

  • Coffee in Iceland is incredibly popular, Tea is not (And they drink it without milk????).

If I wanted a good cup of tea it was a struggle and asking for milk in my tea seemed to be absolutely mortifying. The tea usually tastes quite herbal, I had one tea with a hint of lavender and it was wonderful, probably my favourite one out of them all. We were told that a majority of people live off coffee and it is a lot more popular so I can understand why you wouldn’t bother with good tea.

  • Folk Tales are very strongly upheld and told to generations still to this day.

The woman on our Golden Circle tour informed us of folk tales like ‘The Hidden Woman’ who appeared to a woman and told her she was pregnant and what to name her baby for good blessings and it is still happening to this day. There was also another folk tale of the night trolls, or just the trolls. Men who have had a spell cast on them and they have been enchanted to the caves and only human contact after 3 days of the spell can break it, but they are so hideous from the troll transformation people do not go near them, so the spell is never broken and these men disappear

  • Driving looks very similar to the UK, although not so easy with the snow.

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It seems so easy! Almost exactly like the UK of course just the other side of the road, the signs are in kilometres and there is a lot of snow. SO ACTUALLY nothing like the UK at all. But it was somewhere where I felt I could drive quite comfortably if there was no snow! But another thing was the snow.

If it snows in the UK, Everything comes to a standstill. Couple of centimetres in Iceland? No problem mate, busses, trains, schools, work, all still open and all roads clear as normal!

  • It smells of rotten eggs (Sulphur) a lot of the time.

The hot water is straight from the ground, so it smells a lot like the Sulphur or rotten eggs. If you run the water for a while it kind of disappears, but as our hostel told us, its just something you have to accept! And it was very easy to accept it, although there was one morning where we had left our window open through the night and my god when we woke up in the morning I couldn’t workout if a rat had died in the room or if it was just the sulphur. 

  • The water in Iceland is the purest water I have ever drank in my life.

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Once you leave the water to run and separate the sulphur the after is the most cold and refreshing water you have ever tasted. It took me to move up north to university to realise that yes, water tastes different everywhere. In Lincoln, the water is rank, in London, its lovely, in Iceland? Its better. Its just really fresh, like drinking something straight out of a refrigerated bottle.

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