How Did We Find Our Way to Iceland?
On our way to speak at a Children’s Homeopathic Mental Health Conference in Stockholm (blog to follow next week), we took Icelandair up on its offer to stop over in Iceland for up to seven days at no extra airfare charge. We certainly weren’t alone: Income from this plethora of tourists (1,400,000 in 2014) has actually surpassed their fishing income. Hotels and restaurants boom, thanks to the Northern Lights and other remarkable attractions and Icelandair promotions, despite astoundingly expensive food prices. Icelanders are welcoming and highly creative (thanks, in part, to long hours of darkness in the winter).
Everywhere a Hot Spot
While the rest of the world struggles to meet its ever-growing energy needs, innovative Iceland is growing bananas in geothermal-powered greenhouses! In fact, this country produces 30% of its fruits and veggies and aims for 100% in the not-too-distant future, much, if not all, organic. Yesterday we, along with perhaps 50 other tourists, luxuriated at the Secret Lagoon, a delightful, huge, natural thermal bath opened to the public, after being available only to locals, just over a year ago. Next door to the pool: an enormous greenhouse full of plump, red tomatoes! No, we’re not in Costa Rica, but Iceland!
A Self-Reliant, Unpretentious, Creative, Can Do Culture
We were impressed by a film at The Volcano House documenting two devastating volcanic eruptions and, above all, the remarkable, courageous cleanup efforts of the locals. The prime minister’s house is a lovely, yet unassuming, building on a busy street corner of downtown Reykjavik. Anyone is free to walk up to the house of the president of Iceland, located on a peninsula across from the capital. This country grows more than bananas and tomatoes! It is famous for a wealth of poets, novelists, and an exciting international film festival showing just when we were there. Never mind the change-in-a-moment weather—no problem keeping warm in a land literally overflowing with steam vents! This is an intimate country of only 340,000 folks…. a small fishbowl. The first Icelander I met, as I was trying to get oriented in the Keflavik airport, turned out to be a friendly member of Parliament who had just returned from visiting Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The government is currently researching the best way to welcome these displaced families to their new Icelandic home.
Once an Icelander, Always an Icelander?
A fascinating country: free education and healthcare not only in Iceland but in all of the other Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Virtually no unemployment. Energy costs minimal. A convenient stopover between the U.S. and the rest of Europe. No wonder one of the fastest growing groups seeking residence visas is twenty- and thirty- somethings from the U.S.! Apparently many Icelanders do venture out to live and work in other Nordic countries, yet most return to the strong community, innovative culture, and astounding natural beauty of their native Iceland. Heading to Europe? Give Iceland a visit!