Iceland experience

Old Apr 14th, 2024, 03:14 PM
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Iceland experience

Well, this is a difficult one. I have wanted to travel to Iceland for about 40 years now. Serious. I got my chance so me and the family headed over to the land of fire and ice!

Now before readers begin with the "you just don't understand" please let me preface the following by saying that I have lived in five countries and visited over 82 nations. I do believe every country has good and not so good.

Let's start with the good. The glaciers are beautiful indeed. The streams, rivers and waterfalls are nice. The remoteness is also beautiful in its own way.

The not so good. I hate to say it, but a majority of Icelanders are quite aloof, almost to the point of some form of weird rudeness. Picture yourself in your back garden calling to a cat to come to you and only possibly receiving a minor glance before it walks away. Icelandic people are the cats of the human race. The frostiness of the people is only rivaled by the weather. Although, I did encounter a ranger out on a hike and she was so cool. Super talkative, funny, curious, insightful. A really great soul.

Another not so good: the villages and larger towns are really not that attractive. I remember reading that Vik in Southern Iceland was quaint and cute. Seriously? OK, if you consider concrete style Ikea inspired apartment blocks quaint then you may agree with that assessment.

The food is equal to the restaurant service: really not that good. If a city's claim to fame is a 15 Euro hotdog then book your next ticket to Reyjkavik.

I wanted to love this place so much..... and I left so disillusioned.

Honestly, I think the Iceland hype is simply people saying they went to Iceland. Serious.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 03:28 PM
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Welcome to Fodor's.

I wanted to love this place so much..... and I left so disillusioned.

You and me both. I think my expectations were too high.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 03:34 PM
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We are all entitled to our opinions and if you didn't like it, that's fair enough.

Most people visit Iceland for the natural beauty and not the architecture. I hadn't really thought about it before reading this thread, but most buildings there didn't look like the rest of Europe.

As for the food, I completely fell in love with the Icelandic stew, the Arctic char, the salmon, and I had a few great pizzas. I only had 1 bad meal in my 9 days there and that was pork belly. Never again. 😫 But on every trip there will be one bad meal, and I'm glad I got that out of the way on my second day.

I found the people to be delightful and I can't remember anyone who was aloof. Maybe all of the people you met were shy. 😀

No place is for everyone and there's nothing wrong with saying you didn't like it. I loved it and I would go back in a heartbeat. So we shall shake hands and agree to disagree. I hope your next trip is more enjoyable.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 03:51 PM
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We spent 18 days in Iceland a few years ago, and loved every minute of it. The nature was amazing, and the architecture...I don't know, it was not the reason we visited. We had very good food everywhere: lots of lamb and fish, but also chicken, duck and steak. Maybe not too much variety if you're a vegetarian, but we're not...I hope to return someday.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 04:15 PM
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I loved Iceland for it's beauty and wide open spaces and that's why I'd return. I don't even remember what Vik looks like lol but I had a delicious curry fish stew there on a cool rainy evening while driving back to Reykjavik from the iceberg lagoon. Food was expensive during our trip. I was going to order a cup of tea until I saw it was the equivalent of $6 US. I wonder what it costs now?! My husband tried the famous hot dog and was underwhelmed, but we had delicious salmon and lamb. I didn't encounter anyone unfriendly but I don't seek out locals for chats. Everyone was friendly enough to say "hello" when passing. There was a Canadian, though, who was a bit rude because he kept trying to debate the charming kid who led our walking tour. We were there on the summer solstice and the never ending day felt magical. I would never say "you just don't understand" because we've all probably been let down at times by our expectations when we travel.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 06:42 PM
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I'm sorry to hear the OP and other fodorites did not enjoy Iceland. I went for only a week and wish I had more time. I went purely for nature and geological reasons and was not disappointed.

It is not exactly known to be a "foodie" destination, though one can definitely find some, ahem, interesting...local delicacies. Fermented shark will forever be in my brain, do not need to try again but do not regret doing so. Also not exactly known for their architecture, either, of course. I appreciate that they live fairly modestly and are probably somewhat minimalistic, which may appear in their architecture as well as in their culture.

I did not find the locals to be any more aloof than other countries I've visited. Most locals I encountered seemed pretty introverted, so perhaps there is a culture difference between what the OP is used to and what Icelanders may be to tourists/strangers. I mean, I am not super friendly (polite, yes but with a decent RBF) with anyone I do not know and may also appear aloof, I suppose. But was approached by a couple of gals visiting my city from Japan at a NBA game this weekend, so maybe I appear less aloof than I think.
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Old Apr 16th, 2024, 01:40 AM
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Appreciate the messages and happy to hear that many people had a positive experience with their visit.

I think it is key to really get out into the wilderness of the country. I do not mean rent the car and drive the so called Golden Circle. I mean get or hire a proper off-road vehicle, cross a few rivers and venture way off the beaten track. Once I did this, my experience changed.

Doing the "normal" drive of the Golden Circle, pull up to the waterfall, eat a 50 Euro pizza thing is soul destroying to say the least.
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