Every year Icelanders endure 6 months of bitterly cold winters, 2 months when the sun only spends 4 hours a day above the horizon and three months when the sun never sets. Summer temperatures on average are in the 50’s but a biting wind that blows most of the time can make it seem much colder. It is no wonder there are only 350,000 people who choose to live here.
Seabourn is showing us the island for just 3 days. The temperature hovers around 50 and the wind is blowing. It is sunny but cold, but the scenery is breathtaking
Tourists are bundled up in puffa jackets, scarves and gloves, while the locals hang out in shorts and T shirts. They ski all winter and hike all summer, which makes them easy on the eye and they take any opportunity to show off their bodies. I try not to stare.
Over a third of the population live in Reykjavik, the rest are scattered all over the island mostly living in small towns and villages. Sometimes the villages are incredibly small
When human companionship is scarce they turn to their horses. The Icelanders love their horses. Everywhere we go horses roam the countryside.
The Icelandic horse is a stocky animal with short legs, a round body and a neck wrinkled with fat. They have a large shaggy mane that often covers their face. Actually they resemble an aging pop star.
But they are the hardiest of horses, thriving in this inhospitable climate, despite living outside all year round.
The people seem just as hardy as the horses, It takes a very short time to learn to admire them. They love this island and they care for it. 92% of all their energy comes from geothermal and hydro power, green and renewable. The other 8% is fossil fuel, the gas needed to power their transport, but electric cars are eating away at that percentage too. Many roads and sidewalks are heated by steam and hot water, pumped just underneath them from the thermal hot springs. This allows the roads to remain snow free all through the winter.
Life can be hard living here, but they want to make it the best life possible. They demand the best of everything and make sure they get it. We are in a small town called Isafjador, where the main street boasts about half a dozen shops, one of which is a design shop that would look quite at home on the streets of any major city in the world.
The early settlers lived in turf houses
So it is hardly surprising that today’s settlers want something a little more interesting
And while I am talking of something more interesting, let’s look at where their real interests lie.
They have a museum with the most appealing name: “The Icelandic Phallological Museum”.
The owner boast to have collected a penis from every mammal living in Iceland. Quite how he did that is never explained, but one of the most recently acquired exhibits is sculptures of 15 penises based on the Icelandic men’s national handball team which won the silver medal at the Beijing olympics. The museum does not name which penis belongs to which team member but boasts that the wives can tell immediately which one belongs to their husbands. The players meanwhile deny that the sculptures are actual casts. All good fun and it makes for an entertaining few hours, but then you meet the owner
Perhaps it is time to move on………………………