My friends and I are going to Iceland...here's a few things I've learned before we go
This Friday, Jesse (my wife) and I are leaving to spend 8 days in Iceland with two other couples that we count among our best friends. Eric and I grew up together in Pittsburgh, PA. We ended up in college together at Belmont, where we met Amy (now Eric's wife), Dave (a roommate turned friend), and Mary-Cullen (married to Dave, also a friend from Belmont). I'll be posting LOTS of pictures on my Instagram, follow me at @philhaddad.
We will all be meeting up in New York City to fly out Friday evening and arrive in Reykjavik (one of the milder Icelandic place names to pronounce - something like 're-kya-vick' phonetically) early Saturday morning Icelandic time. Needless to say, we are super excited and I'm sure are in for quite the adventure. Honestly, going into this trip I knew very little about Iceland, apart from 1) it's beautiful (watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, please) and 2) Game of Thrones films there. We'll actually be there when the new season starts, so no spoilers, people.
Anyway. Since I didn't know a whole lot about the country going into this I've done a bit of research and here are a few things I found out!
All about the layers.
In general while we're there we're expecting to have cloudy weather in the 40's. However, the weather in Iceland is known for changing drastically in a short amount of time, so layers that you can easily take on and off are key, especially a waterproof outer layer for the frequent rain.
These people love their pools.
Let's be honest, if we all lived within spitting distance of geothermal hot springs we'd keep a spare swimsuit in the car as well. Every city or town has at least one major pool, one of the most well-known being the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik.
No cash? No problem.
In Iceland, credit/debit cards are widely considered the primary form of payment. This was a little bit surprising to me, I guess I thought that being a smaller country cash would be a bigger deal. Lucky for us, our Southwest card has no foreign transaction fees so it will be easy for us to buy all the lopapeysas our hearts desire.
Elves! (aka Huldufólk)
The 'hidden people' are elves that are a big part of Icelandic folklore. One 1998 survey found that 54.4% of Icelanders believed in elves, whose popularity has led to things like the Icelandic Elf School in Reykjavik, where you can learn about the 13 different types of elves that inhabit the island and take tours complete with a pancake breakfast and coffee.
Don't call the horses ponies
Icelandic horses first came to the island on Viking ships and remained the only form of transportation until the early 1900's. These little guys are DEFINITELY horses, not ponies. People who ride them insist they have the feel of a horse, not a pony, and plus, there's not even a word for 'pony' in Icelandic. The country's pride in their equine buddies is well placed, they are considered the purest breed in the world, likely due to the country's strict no-import policy on other horses, as well as rules preventing any Icelandic horse that has left the island from coming back (Pixar feel free to make a movie about this one).
Well, there you go. These are just a few of the things I've learned about Iceland leading up to this trip, and I'm sure I'll learn much more while we're there!
To keep up with us throughout our trip, follow me on Instagram: @philhaddad.