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Iceland Thoughts

I recently had a brief trip to Iceland.

It was a bit of a whirlwind, literally and figuratively. White out conditions for the majority of the trip so, no, I didn't see the auroras!

There is a unique phenomena that takes place when you travel. There's this thing that happens, I think it's kind of a willful suspension of assumptions. No, that's not quite right, it's more like... the willful suspension of judgement, but it's effects are pretty broad.

I remember when I was traveling in Japan by myself, probably a decade ago, I burned my entire body in an onsen. I was in a public bath house in a small village and there were no other women there to emulate. I assumed that you were supposed to wash yourself and then soak in the tub of hot water, so that's what I did, even though the water was breathtakingly hot. It was insane but the thought going through my head was "well, if the locals do this all the time, I'm sure I can handle it". Eventually a male traveler on the other side of the wall called out to me to ask if I was in the tub and told me to "GET OUT!!". My whole body, tip to toe, was like I had a severe sunburn for days and the rest of my trip to that region (that I was visiting to soak in hot onsen's!) was pretty limited.

And that's the little voice that comes up when you travel: "Well, if the locals do this all the time, I'm sure I can handle it".

It's a great voice! It get's you out of your comfort zone! It gets you to try new foods, new activities, new music!

But it can also get you in trouble because it is also silencing your internal alarm system, at least mine does.

So, we were driving to our new hotel in the snow. My friend and I have both spend a lot of time driving in Colorado and in the winter so it wasn't so daunting at first. And as the road conditions worsened... we thought..."Well, if the locals do this all the time, I'm sure we can handle it".

And, at the end of the day, we did! We were only stuck in a ditch, in the snow, slammed against a cliff for maybe 20 minutes! We persevered and kept driving and made it to the hotel in one piece!

When we walked in the door, covered in snow, the Icelandic women at the check-in desk said "I'm not sure I believe my eyes, are you real?" Which is apparently a common reaction for Icelandic people to have to figures coming towards them out of a storm, or the sea, or the fog... they wait a bit to see if the figure is real or not before interacting with it.

Long story short, the roads were actually closed and the entire staff at the hotel was stranded for the night and they were really impressed that we had made it and gave us unlimited Champagne. It was great.

Other small impressions of Iceland:

  • No top sheet on beds, just duvet covers.

  • Queen sizes bed comes with two down duvet, full sized, and a throw on top. Presumably so each person can have their own blanket on the cold nights without drafts?!

  • I can't even imagine asking for bottled water at a restaurant. Almost every waiter will talk to you at length about how amazing the quality of water is.

  • They aim for sustainability and it shows. Hardly anything is made of crap and even the souvenir shops are filled with hand crafted stuff. I assume this is because it's not really price effective to sell crap from China with the cost of imports.

  • Kaup means: to purchase. There are a lot of Kaup marts!

  • I couldn't find a fireplace anywhere. I assume this is because wood is incredibly scarce and to import it just to burn it would be ridiculous, ditto with using a gas fireplace.

I hope I get to return some day. It was lovely.

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