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A European island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean.

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The Land of Ice & Fire

  • Jan 12, 2010
Iceland has its fair share of problems the last 2 years or so. I've read that if a country would go bankrupt, Iceland would be there to hold the record for being the 1st! Well, it hasn't gone bankrupt yet, but it's not out of the woods either.

Recalling my first (& only) visit to Iceland some 8 years ago, back then when the digital cameras were 2 Mega Pixels or so (one can tell from my photos on, downright grainy! Now, it's 24.6 Mega Pixels; we've certainly come a long way!), Iceland was the most expensive country I've ever set foot on! It's a far cry from those days and it's unfortunate the world of finance doesn't escape an island as far (& remote; how many of you have visited Iceland or even know its exact location or what there is to see over there? ;-)) as Iceland. 

Well, I wrote about China, Japan & the U.S. recently, so I thought, why not Iceland? 
Iceland is not well known to most in the world and although it seems remote, it is really not that difficult to get to. There are direct flights from Boston, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Seattle, Toronto, Halifax, Paris, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam & even Krakow. Check Icelandair for its services; it's a fine airline & one of my favorite 10 airlines in the world!

  • Iceland is NOT made of ice or covered mostly with ice.
One of its national parks (it has 3 in total) Vatnajokull National Park which covers 12% of Iceland embodies the largest glacier in Iceland & Europe (8% of the country). Under the glacier are several volcanoes. That's why it's commonly known as a land of ice and fire.
The rest of the country are covered with greens and waterfalls though. So, it's not as harsh as the name sounds. In fact, I bet in Greenland you'd have the opposite being true!

  • Blue Lagoon
A must for all visitors. A geothermal spa which purportedly to be good for those suffering from psoriasis. It's very popular even in the winterly nights!

  • Yellowstone of Europe
If you are familiar with Yellowstone, well, Iceland is somewhat like Yellowstone, minus the animals, I'd presume. Other than Iceland being a country, it is also a very quiet place. I hardly see anyone on the street around dinner time, before & after too! But wait til after midnight, this place doesn't wake up until after midnight! A strangest phenomenon, considering it's so chilly outside even before midnight! 

  • Economy
Back then in October 2008, the country's ATMs did not dispense cash for 3 days! That is one disaster and scary moment for majority of Icelanders (& the rest of the world along with it, I'm sure). Even I went to get quite a bit of cash out of the banking system as a precaution during that week. I'm quite sure Iceland is no longer the country I visited back then in 2002. However, it may proved to be a blessing for potential visitors now as I'm quite certain it has become more affordable after the meltdown. You may have to wait another 6 months before doing so as this is not the best time of the year to visit. You do have enough time to make a go for it and plan for a summer trip there. I'm sure you won't regret it!  And many Icelanders will thank you for it. I certainly hope they get out of the mess they are in right now! It's still amazing how much leverage the country had gotten itself into and now that everything has toppled, its the taxpayers who are suffering! What a mess!

Iceland had the highest GDP per person once not so long ago. It simply tells us that no country or individual is infallible and if we don't watch ourselves, one misstep and the entire system goes awry. It'd be interesting to see how things resolved in the near future. I wish Iceland all the luck it needs! It's really a nice and peaceful country, the weather and landscape a little harsh but otherwise, very pleasant place to visit, especially in the summer months! 

All the best to you, Iceland!

The Land of Ice & Fire The Land of Ice & Fire The Land of Ice & Fire The Land of Ice & Fire

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August 13, 2010
What websites or better yet books did you read before or after your trip to inform yourself about Iceland? All I can think of is Haldor Laxness' "Independent People" about the old ways, the sagas, Bjork or Sigur Ros' music, and the weird "Letters from Iceland" by Louis MacNeice & WH Auden way back from 1938 as a short cultural list of references!
January 12, 2010
Lovely review and amazing pictures and highlights, Sharrie!  Who needs a 24.6 MP camera anyways? 7 is good enough for me :P  By the way, just thought I'd let you know that your review was shared on twitter! ;)
January 13, 2010
Thanks, Debbie! Such a busy morning, Lunchers been busy while I was sleeping! ;-)
January 13, 2010
I thought I did better with China & U.S.... interestingly, Japan & Iceland turn out to be more popular ;p I guess it's the exotic element, perhaps?
January 12, 2010
Hey, I am in! I rather enjoy spots like this. Nice work with the pix and your descriptions are so enticing. Thanks, Sharrie!
January 13, 2010
Ah, William, you always make me happy with your comment :D You enjoy spots like this? That's quite a surprise to me!
January 13, 2010
I am not your usual guy...I am unorthodox he-heh.
January 13, 2010
Hahaha... that's funny! Guys are the same in at least one aspect, as far as I know ;-) Unorthodox, eh? In what sense, pray tell...
January 13, 2010
in a lot of ways...a lot of people would be surprised. ;-P
January 12, 2010
Admittedly, I had no inclination to visit Iceland until earlier last year when a friend took a trip there. It is most definitely at the top of my travel wish list now. Great review, Sharrie - love the pictures too!
January 13, 2010
Thanks, Aunny! If you do intend to visit, try visiting in July & August. Some parks are not opened after early September. I'm sure you'll enjoy Iceland. Everyone who went did!
January 12, 2010
Definitely a country on my lifetime bucket list. Great review, Sharrie.
January 12, 2010
Thanks! It's definitely worth a visit, especially now! Flight from Toronto & even Halifax! Wish I could return again some time in near future!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #2
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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The Republic of Iceland is a European island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of about 320,000 and a total area of 103,000 km². Its capital and largest city is Reykjavík, whose surrounding area is home to some two-thirds of the national population. Located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland isvolcanically and geologically active on a large scale; this defines the landscape. The interior mainly consists of a plateau characterised by sand fields, mountains and glaciers, while many big glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, Iceland has a temperate climate relative to its latitude and provides a habitable environment and nature.

According to Landnámabók, the settlement of Iceland began in AD 874 when the Norwegian chieftain Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Norwegian settler on the island. Others had visited the island earlier and stayed over winter. Over the next centuries, people ofNordic and Celtic origin settled in Iceland. Until the 20th century, the Icelandic population relied largely on fisheries and agriculture, and was from 1262 to 1918 a part of the Norwegian, and later the Danish monarchies. In the 20th century, Iceland's economy and welfare system developed quickly, and in recent decades the nation has implemented free trade in the European Economic Area, diversifying from fishing to new economic fields in services, finance and various ...

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