Iceland is a place which is inextricably linked to the story of its people. History can be discovered everywhere in Iceland. Tradition and heritage plays a larger role in the region’s culture. This tiny country is in the middle of a tourism boom. The 2 million tourists that visited Iceland last year outnumbered the locals by more than five to one. Icelands strong relation to the ocean is evident in the regional cuisine and folklore is as much alive as than anywhere else in Iceland.
It is not hard to understand what draws so many visitors. The blend of nature from seashores,valleys,waterfalls to museums dedicated to sorcery and witchcraft, as well as monsters and creatures from the sea, Iceland has a surfeit of natural wonders, from mighty glaciers and geysers to no fewer than 10,000 waterfalls, from the double-tiered Gullfoss to Seljalandsfoss, where a walking trail takes you behind the cascading water. The magnificent landscape and wildlife at Snæfellsjökull National Park, Iceland’s only national park that reaches into the sea. The mystical volcano Snæfellsjökull Glacier has inspired artists and poets through the centuries, being one of seven greatest energy centres on Earth. Snæfellsjökull is the setting of Jules Verne’s Journey to the center of the Earth.
Iceland’s biggest attraction, however, is its people. Icelanders have a distinctively quirky world view. Perhaps that is what comes from living on an isolated island which is in darkness for half the year, a place where the average summer temperature is about 13 degrees.
“When the first settlers arrived here, around 871 [the year] , 97 per cent of the island was covered with trees. That was before a 400-year ice age and 250 years of repeated volcanic eruptions changed the landscape into the bare, flat, treeless landscape of today.
Iceland’s early settlers came from a variety of countries, including Scandinavia and Ireland. Icelanders have developed a potted history of where they came from. According to them”All the fun people left Norway, then stopped in at Copenhagen to pick up engineers and Britain for some pretty ladies. They left the sick people behind on the Faroe Islands, and then the rest came to Iceland.”
There are three things you are guaranteed in Iceland “Good food, good coffee and bad hair days”.Icelands wild gusts of wind can send everyones hair shooting in all directions. one’s hair becomes permanently out of control in Iceland. It’s just one of those things that happens only in this part of the world. Icelanders may miss out on a lot of things – forests, big cities, summer – but they know how to count their blessings. All those volcanoes double as a useful power source – 97 per cent of homes are geothermally heated – and the water that flows from the tap comes straight from a glacier. What’s more, Iceland grows its own apples, bananas and even kiwifruit, in greenhouses that draw on the same geothermal power.
Until now, sightseeing in Iceland has been a remarkably relaxed activity. Only a handful of the country’s top attractions require you to buy a ticket; at the rest, you just show up. However, Iceland’s parliament recently passed laws allowing for entry fees to be charged to national parks.
while coming to its cuisine the most important ingredient in Icelandic cuisine is its location. Iceland is blessed with an abundance of fresh water, clean nature and fertile fishing grounds, while geothermal energy makes it possible to supply a year-round offering of fresh vegetables, grown locally in organic greenhouses.
In the past few years, Iceland has emerged as one of Europe’s most dynamic gastronomic destinations, full of exciting places to taste thrilling new recipes. Chefs create modern dishes with traditional ingredients, influenced by the philosophy of the New Nordic Cuisine, where freshness and local seasonal ingredients play a vital role.
A staple of Icelandic cuisine is fresh caught fish.Icelandic lamb is also a popular ingredient.Street eats are a must for visitors, especially Iceland’s favorite snack, the pylsa, or hot dog. Say, “eina med ollu”, when ordering and you’ll get a hot dog boldly topped with the works: crunchy fried onions, ketchup, sweet mustard, raw onions and curry remoulade sauce.
For the few daring souls, traditional Icelandic fare is of course widely available. In the era preceding modern day storage technology— i.e. the fridge—food was traditionally stored using more primitive methods. This traditional food consists of pickled, salted, cured, or smoked fish and meat of various kinds. In order to survive the long winter months, all parts of the animal were consumed. Don’t be surprised to find fermented shark, singed sheep heads or pickled ram’s testicles on the menu of specialty restaurants. Try them at your own risk
Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world. However, it is necessary to take precaution when traveling in Iceland due to natural hazards caused by weather and nature, where conditions can change at a moments notice.
Iceland as a whole is a beauty at its best!