editors note: Travelog is a new weekly column that will review foreign countries according to the (well-traveled) writer’s opinion.
words_ alex pruefer. photo_alex pruefer.
Contrary to the name, Iceland is one of the more green and captivating Nordic countries. The sense of a unique history is prevalent upon arrival at Keflavik airport, which is about 45 minutes outside the capital of Reykjavik. The florescent oak that composes the airport makes one feel like they’ve arrived into the confines of a dreamy mountain cabin opposed to a new country. Isolated from seemingly everyone but the Norwegians for centuries, there are certain cultural quirks that have remained unchanged, along with others that are more dynamic.
The cultural is personified in the language, which is a more than 1000-year-old dialect of Norwegian. This enables present day Icelanders to read ancient Viking sagas with no difficulty. Also, due to the sheltered nature of being a long undiscovered Nordic country, unique beliefs and traditions have been allowed to flourish (Such as a stoic belief in Elves). Yes, as in, Christmas elves. It may seem ridiculous, but in Iceland they are believed to hold special powers to help or hurt individuals.
Another thing that makes Iceland unique is the active small scale whaling. They are one of the few countries left to engage in the practice and are adamant about their responsibility in the act. There are several places that you could purchase a whale steak here, along with fermented shark and puffin if you so wish, but undoubtedly the most popular being The Red Baron which is situated right next to the dock at the end of the main strip dubbed the Laugavegur.
But one thing that can’t be missed is the never-ending photographic landscape. With unique vegetation and natural effects it allows for everything from natural hot springs to the convergence of the Arctic and North American plates. The most famous is the national park Þingvellir (Thingviller). This location is where ancient Viking conferences were held and is a huge part of the history of the country. But another lesser known natural masterpiece is the Elephant Rock in the outskirts of the country side. Which bears a striking resemblance to an actual Elephant. Iceland, for all intents and purposes, is a country worth visiting and never worth forgetting.