Thursday, August 08, 2013

Great things about Iceland

Taking a break from the account of our stay in Iceland – just to catch my breath and assemble pics from Kathie’s SmugMug page.  In the meantime, let’s talk about the advantages of living in Iceland.  (Whenever I visit another place, I find myself occupied by how cool it would be to live there.  There was no shortage of coolness about Iceland, imho.) 
  • Great water!  You always have lots of hot water – don’t need a hot water heater because the geothermal water is already hot when it comes through the pipes to your house.  Cold water from the tap is pure spring water without any additives.  And you always have great shower pressure.
  • No tipping – not even in restaurants or taxies.  Tipping is never expected, but if you do tip, you are unlikely to offend anyone; it would be graciously accepted or politely refused. 
  • The simple design of everything gives you the impression that life is simple.  Nice!
  • Everyone calls each other by their first name, regardless of social status.  Iceland is the only Scandinavian country to retain the Old Norse system of patronymics.  If a man named Jon has a son named Pall and a daughter named Olof, their names are Pall Jonsson and Olof Jonsdottir.  Women do not change names when they marry, so if a married couple has a son and a daughter, every family member has a different last name.  THE PHONE BOOK IS ALPHABETIZED BY FIRST NAME! 
  • The whole country’s population is just over 300,000, more than a third of whom live in Reykjavik - where you can feel safe walking at night.  The people are decent and hard-working, willing to adapt and learn.  A little more than a century ago, Icelanders were scattered around the island, living in turf huts and fishing only for their own needs.  Illiteracy was common.  Today, they are well educated and the standard of living is amongst the highest in the world.  Industry is very competitive, whether in genetic research, power plant engineering or the fishing industry.  I mean, where else might you find a tree wearing a sweater?
  • The Aurora Borealis plays in the sky in spring and autumn, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.  (Saves on the cable TV bill.)
  • Believe it or not, Iceland averages 14.9 hours of daylight – more than in Miami.  (Yeah, yeah – I know – there’s a bit of variation throughout the year!)
  • No pollution.  90% of Icelandic homes are heated by geothermal power – fossil fuels are used only for transportation.  So if you drive a Prius, your total footprint is virtually nothing.
  • The oceanic climate with warm Gulf Stream thrown in along the western and southern coasts is much milder than you would expect for its location (66 degrees north latitude).  The clash of the Gulf Stream and arctic air do make the weather unstable and windy, but in January, it’s warmer than New York City.  Snowball fights (in the dark) wearing just shorts and t-shirts!
  • Between the silica mud at the Blue Lagoon and the pumice from nearby volcanoes, your skin would be eternally soft.  Chapped, maybe, but eternally soft.
Other potential positives – if you live close to the Mid-Atlantic rift (next post), you might find yourself owning beachfront property at some point.  Little to no need for deodorant.  Snowmobiling on a glacier over your lunch hour.  I could go on and on.  Then again, I’ve not been there during the winter.


Katharine said...

And you could have a moss roof if you wanted. Wonder what else was growing in there.

Pat said...

Oh yeah - how could I forget that?