Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nearing the End of Our Trip

Since I've been busy blogging, I thought it would be good to give ADW a chance to post his thoughts on here too...
Iceland may not be the first destination to come to mind when planning for a trip during a long Canadian winter, but while many Canadians headed to warmer climates in anticipation for our own spring and summer, we headed to the North Atlantic island known for its Vikings and volcano eruptions.

I would describe Iceland as powerful and majestic, yet peaceful and understated. The beautiful landscapes - including mighty waterfalls, dormant volcanoes, and lumbering glaciers – remind us of the amazing geological forces that shape the face of our Earth. At the same time, this sparsely populated island does not have the same frenetic pace that we are used to in North America and allows one the time and peace to properly take it all in.

There are three highlights from the trip in particular:
1)     The horse riding trip through old lava fields was better than I had anticipated. For the last three months, I have been taking lessons at Greyden working hard on improving my riding skills, all the while restricted to the confines of a small arena due to the chilly winter weather. Finally, on our Icelandic horse riding tour, I was able to utilize these hard earned (albeit limited) skills out in the open and be a true horse rider! I was able to control my lively Icelandic horse, ride the Tolt, and experience the canter for the first time while riding through some truly amazing scenery. I’m really glad that the riding lessons have paid off and allowed me to truly appreciate our riding tour.

2)     Hiking on the glacier was a great experience. When I was younger, I had actually visited the Columbia Ice Fields and walked on that glacier, but I never truly understood what it was that I was walking on. Little did I know that glaciers are actually slowly moving, immense structures of ice that carve a path through the land. This time I was able to understand that I was walking on a true force of nature.
3)     Ok, so this is not a specific “highlight” per se, but there is no tipping in Iceland! I have never been to a country where no tips are expected and I like it. A lot. I have no problem paying for good service because I believe good service should be rewarded, but I do have a problem with the entitled North American attitude that a good tip is expected regardless of the service. I am particularly irked when I pay using a card machine and it prompts me to enter a 25% (!!!) tip. The service here in Iceland has been impeccable and I have no major complaints. I really appreciate that our servers and tour guides take pride in doing a good job without expecting a tip afterwards. Kudos for helping us have a great time and I wish we could import this attitude to North America.

I have really enjoyed my time in Iceland and although it is not an in-your-face exciting place to visit, it has won me over with its majestic scenery, amazing experiences, and great culture. This is a place I would like to come back to visit again in the future.

And because ADW is a keeper of factoids, here's a list of facts that he compiled because he thought they were interesting...
A few interesting facts about Iceland:
-     99% of the electricity here is generated by clean sources. 20% from geothermal heat and the rest from hydro-electric
-     The water here is extremely clean and tap water tastes as good, if not better, than the bottled “spring water” that we can buy back home
-     Reykjavik is considered to have the best hot-dogs in the world, and yes they sure are tasty!
-     Icelandic is the name of the country’s language, but it is actually the same ancient Norwegian language used by the first settlers over 1,200 years ago. Icelanders can read ancient Norwegian texts, but Norwegians can not since modern Norwegian has evolved while Icelandic has remained the same
-     Iceland reads and publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world
-     The world’s first openly gay prime minister was elected in Iceland in 2010
-     Many people in Iceland believe in hudulfolk, or hidden people, which include elves, gnomes, dwarves and trolls. Sometimes when driving in the country side, you can see small little colourful homes in the hillsides which are made by people (I’m assuming) for elves
-     Iceland has no standing army, but it is a NATO member. It is currently Canada’s turn to defend Iceland and we have six CF-18’s currently based at Keflavik for a 5-week rotation

We're almost done our trip and I'm sad to be leaving tomorrow but rest assured that there will be at least 1 more post before we leave here--with plenty of photos!


  1. Always fun to hear things from your other half's perspective. Hi ADW! So excited for you that the horseback riding went so well :-)

    1. Thanks amb. too bad I couldn't bring back their hot dogs for you to try!