19.12.2015 - 08.01.2016 36 °C
Everyone speaks fantastic English with hardly any accent all throughout Iceland and Scandanavia. Very easy for English speaking travellers.
The tap water is the sweetest, freshest water we have ever had the pleasure of drinking. It is even better than Canberra water and that's saying something! It was actually sent to New York for testing and they requested a second sample because there were no impurities in the first sample. And that was exactly right. There are no impurities in Icelandic water. It is so pure and sweet due to filtering through the lava layers.
It was fascinating to see how these people survive in winter with daybreak at about 11 am and dark at 4.30 pm. A huge part of their lives is spent in the dark, but on the other hand, I suppose the sun doesn't set for very long either in the middle of summer. It is a country of extremes. They also have their fair share of depression and suicides.
The Icelanders have a special drink at Christmas. It is a mix of malt and citrus and is non alcholic and tastes like slightly sweet beer. Lovely.
Reykjavik was the only European capital city that had a white Christmas and we were there.
Whale, horse, reindeer and puffin were on the menu!
There is no Santa Claus in Iceland. Instead there are 13 Yule Lads. They live in a cave in the mountains with their troll mother Gryla. A fortnight before Christmas, they take it in turns to come down to the town and visit the children. The children leave a shoe in the window and if they have been good, a small gift will be left in their shoe. If they have been naughty, a rotten potato will be left. We received a little gift every morning prior to Christmas, left hanging on our hotel door.
The names of the Yule Lads are just so funny - Sheep Worrier, Gully Gawk, Stubby, Spoon Licker, Pot Licker, Bowl Licker, Door Slammer, Skyr Glutton, Sausage Stealer, Window Peeper, Door Sniffer, Meat Hook, and Candle Beggar.
All Icelanders receive a new set of clothes for Christmas, plus a new book and chocolate. At midday on Christmas Eve, all the shops close and the families gather for their Christmas Eve dinner and present opening. On Christmas Day, they snuggle up inside their warm homes, reading their new books and eating chocolate. Sounds good to me!
We experienced minus 14 degrees with a minus 25 degrees wind chill factor on Christmas Day while we were sight seeing. But we had the right clothes for the sub zero temperatures. Thank goodness for our Antarctic jackets.
Wifi was fantastic all through Iceland and Scandanavia. It was free everywhere - in hotels, cafes, restaurants, on buses, in airports, on the train and no passwords needed. Just connect and you were on. So easy and fast too. It should be like this all over the world.
Copenhagen has a lovely feel to it and fantastic looking buildings but when we returned a week later, the wind from Siberia had arrived and it was unbearably cold. Even the locals were complaining.
Our overnight ferry ride to Oslo was wonderful. So smooth, you could hardly tell the ferry was moving.
Stockholm was snowing and it was so pretty.
The train rides from Oslo to Stockholm and Stockholm to Copenhagen were relaxing and very picturesque - travelling through a snow covered landscape.
Our three weeks in Iceland and Scandanavia was an experience not to be missed. I would thoroughly recommend it.
However, because it was so cold and not many daylight hours, we became quite slow and lethargic (and a lot of things were closed due to the holidays) so we spent a lot of time indoors. We really do need to go back in the summer and explore this amazing part of the world.