Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day -1: Why Iceland?

In reaction to where we went went on our honeymoon we get one or a mixture of the following reactions?
  • Where's Iceland?
  • Huh... that's interesting.
  • I've never heard of anyone doing that.

It wasn't our intention, when we were planning the honeymoon, to go somewhere completely strange, but I think it's a nice side effect. When Brian and I sat down at the kitchen table to decide where we should go, we drew up a list of a bunch of places, and, through a series of rigorous criteria (not so much), we landed on Iceland and Alaska. We decided that, as West Coast residents, we could go to Alaska just about anytime, and that we should check this Iceland place out. As it turned out, there were some good and cheap flights there, and a friend of mine mentioned the Icelandic Farm Holiday program, which sounded like an awesome way to get things taken care of.

Before this, I knew the following things about Iceland: Bjork, Sigur Ros and volcanos exist there, Reykjavik is the capitol, Vikings are somehow associated. Sometime in the early spring, I purchased the Lonely Planet's guide to Iceland, and tried to learn some more. Some interesting facts:
  • Iceland only has a bit over 300,000 people, but is the size of Kentucky. About 60% of people live in the capitol of Reykjavik.
  • Icelandic is the language, and is the oldest European language. It is as close to what Vikings spoke as you can get. Most people speak English, though.
  • Icelanders still follow the patronymic naming convention that used to be common in much of Scandinavia, rather than having surnames. For example, Brian's name would be Brian Harveyson, and I would be Amy Markdotter. No one changes their name after they get married.
  • Hot dogs are the national snack food. Maybe not officially, but still. Icelanders enjoy their hot dogs with fresh chopped onions, fried onions, ketchup, a sweet mustard and remoulade sauce.
  • Sheep, puffins, Icelandic horses, whales, and cows are common sites around Iceland. People are not.
  • Most of their energy is supplied by geothermal power, as the island is a "hot zone", due to being a place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates collide.
  • Summer mostly ends at the end of August - September is the start of lower tourist season.
  • Rain is common. Like Seattle, umbrellas are less common - people just wear raincoats.

We booked the South Explorer tour with the Iceland Farm Holidays company, which starts you in Southwest Iceland with a rental car, and then send you to different farms on the South Coast before a night in Reykjavik. Since we still had a few additional days to work with, we booked a few more nights in Reykjavik. I'll be honest - before we left, I had done only limited research on what we were doing. Wedding to plan and show up to, you know?

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Unknown said...

Looks like you had an amazing time over there!!!

Do you have a copy of that itinerary? My husband and I just got married, and I would love to show him Iceland. My dad is from there, but everytime I've gone as a kid, we end up visiting relatives 90% of the time and not actually seeing the sites. I would love to have a good plan before I go so that I'm not stuck on the aunt's couch all day waiting to see the country..

Thanks so much, and congratulations on the wedding!!!


Amy said...

Hey Johanna - sure! Send me an email at amy . wheeless at gmail . com (remove spaces, of course) and I can give you the hook up. I never got around to writing up our whole trip but I have it bullet pointed so I can tell you all the fun things we saw :)