Surprises of Iceland

How many times does it happen that what we imagine or fantasize appears to have nothing in common with cruel reality? How many times do the girls dreaming about Paris-the-city-of-love get disappointed because there is no Edith Piaf music playing simply in the air, and no angels flying around the Eiffel tower? Well, with Iceland it happened a bit this way. So let’s clear this out straight away – neither Sigur Ros nor Bjork sing every other day under your hotel balcony.

However, it’s not only about disappointment and staff. Iceland saved for us many great points and surprises as well, and we’ll gladly share them with you. :)

The Icelandic sweaters are not a legend!

independent people iceland weater

And it is something great, isn’t it? The locals really wear their sweaters with traditional patterns, and almost everyone can knit (knitting is taught at school to both girls and boys actually!). So, it’s not a touristic trap, but really is part of Icelandic culture. As well as the Icelandic horses, by the way. They exist not only for visitors’ amusement, but they still serve as the prestige indicator and as mean of transport for the long mountain trips.

If you think that Iceland is an “exotic rare” destination – forget it.

independent people iceland bus

Never in our life could we imagine that Iceland, far and lost Iceland, attracts so many tourists! Though the first alarm was when Xavier’s sister who is definitely not a traveler went to spend her holidays there. The last few year Iceland welcomes more than 1 million tourists, and considering that 70% of them come in summer, just imagine what is going on in a country whose population is three times smaller than the amount of guests. The result is that the country is turning into our old dear Disneyland.

Awesome English level

We met hardly no one who couldn’t communicate in English with perfectly descent level. Obviously, Iceland really IS a Scandinavian county when English level is concerned. Once, by a luck we were hosted by a 73-year-old lady, who spent her free time trying to learn English by herself. And considering that we could have a sort of conversation, it was a success!

iceland dictionary icelandic

Burgers & Soda

I think every traveler in Iceland gets shocked finding out that actually local basic alimentation mainly consists of burgers, fries, cola and pizzas. Which explains the considerable average Icelander’s, how to say politely, size of clothes. Here the balanced alimentation is a foreign term. Of course, historically, it couldn’t really have been differently, there is no fertile ground and warm sun to cultivate the vegetables, but honestly, with such powerful import there must be some adequate alternatives! Icelandic water is considered among the purest in the world, why drink Cola instead? And judging by what is sold in the supermarkets, fast-food madness spreads in the houses too.

independent people how to cycle in iceland food burger fries

The best ever gas stations

The gas stations in Iceland are made to be lived in. As a rule, they include some basic shop, sometimes free wi-fi and café (where one can get a yummy burger). But what is the most awesome, is the fact that you can freely stay as much as you want, warm and eat your food, wash up, in one word – do so many vital things during the cycling trip. I’m not sure that it would be as easy in other European countries.

Poor Internet Connection

Even if Iceland claims to offer 3G or whatever else that covers 98% of the island, a descent Internet connection is extremely rare, even in houses.

Self-service kitchen and unlimited coffee

Almost in every gas station and supermarket, one can find a small corner with a microwave, toaster and coffee-machines. The clients are welcome to use them, mainly for warming up the sandwiches, but it is just amazing that it IS available! And having payed once for coffee, quite often the refill is free. So, we benefited a couple of times to heat the water or grill the toasts in our beloved gas stations.

independent people iceland self-service kitchen

The barriers

Even if the land might be desert and unfertile, it still belongs to someone. And this someone wants to protect his land from intruders at any cost. Which results in hundreds of kilometers of fenced road. And it’s not simply a barrier, but in the majority of cases it’s electrified barbed ware. Very warm and welcoming. However, the owners usually don’t refuse if asked politely to allow the tent for a night.

independent people iceland field sheep

The swimming pools

It’s love. The best friend of travelers both by car and by bicycles as it is not only the best way to warm oneself up (because it’s not only swimming pool, but also hot Jacuzzi tubes), but also definitely the best opportunity to take a shower. 99% of swimming pools are open-air, so we came back with an awesome sun-tan! Showers are much cleaner and warmer than any possible camping. But what is the most surprising is the entry fee, which is, in Iceland standards, very low. 450-700 KR for unlimited time – isn’t it great? Lots of people complain/laugh that in the swimming pools it’s compulsory to take shower completely naked, but what is really funny is that in Reykjavik pools there are special employees whose work is to make sure that all the visitors are really naked. :D By the way, the swimming pools and the gas stations are the major socialization points of locals!

iceland swimming pool independent people

Price-Quality irrelevance

Sadly, but it’s true. Iceland creates an impression, that it’s not yet clear how to deal correctly with this stunning tourist flow. However, one thing is evident – no matter how expensive or bad quality the services are, the travelers will accept to pay. For one simple reason that there is no choice. Iceland is not a multimillion capital, which can offer thousands of hostels, restaurants, caffés etc. No, here it doesn’t work this way. In Icelandic villages, there will be from one to three restaurants, one camping, one supermarket, and they are completely free to set their prices because there are no competitors. Considering the average Icelandic standard, it will be damn expensive. Unfortunately, a night in a camping can cost more than a bed in a hostel in any European city, but it doesn’t mean that it will provide at least any descent facilities (thinking about “KITCHEN” in the camping near Myvatn lake).

Breakfast for two in the hotel where one night cost 135€

And two last surprises, or if to say more precisely – observations…

The quantity of water

iceland independent people ice water

It’s fantastic, how much water Iceland can possess. Not only is it completely surrounded by water (which is quite typical for islands lol), but also it’s raining quite often, the country is full of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, glaciers, powerful geothermic activity resulting into geysers or natural hot springs, even the dry land is not dry at all. The purest water is oozing from every possible piece of ground. So difficult to realize, that the world suffers from the lack of water…


iceland independent people children


The second one is the quantity of children. Really, we got an impression that the average number of children per family is at least 3 if not 4! We were told as well, that considering the close relation of almost every Icelander, there are special applications that are used to calculate the degree of two person’s relation to find out if it’s okay to start a family or to simply have sex or not. Is that true? :)

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So what are your greatest surprises and strange impressions that you’ve brought from Iceland? 

2017-05-13T13:16:35+00:00 November 13th, 2015|


  1. Françoise et Michel CATON Sunday November 22nd, 2015 at 05:53 PM - Reply

    Hello vous 2,
    Nous vous avions rencontré lors de notre arrivée en Islande au 15 août dernier (c’est nous qui logions dans le RV chez Jonina). Nous venons de lire votre blog et ça nous a rappelé un tas de bons souvenirs. Nous aussi nous avons fuit le Blue Lagoon, mais nous avons essayé son homologue à Myvtan et c’était vraiment super, une expérience à vivre. Nous avons aussi trouvé une “piscine” dans une ferme, de l’eau à 38° et un grand bassin pour nous 2, rien que du bonheur. On a aussi testé l’accueil islandais un soir où le vent était vraiment trop désagréable pour planter la tente. Nous étions en voiture et nous avons beaucoup pensé à vous lors de notre périple. Ce que j’ai bien apprécié dans les stations service, c’est la possibilité de laver la voiture gratuitement (c’est pratique à cause des gravels roads !). Avez-vous été à Kopasker ? J’ai adoré ce village : joli petit camping gratuit avec eau chaude, WC et douche chauffés. Le soir où nous y avons séjourné, il y avait un concert (gratuit) de chansons islandaises dans le musée (gratuit lui aussi). Bref… tant de choses qui nous ont ravis, c’est vraiment un beau pays !
    Bonne continuation à vous 2. Amitiés,
    Françoise et Michel (de Haute-Savoie)

    • independentpeople Wednesday November 25th, 2015 at 06:54 PM - Reply

      Bonjour !
      Nous ne vous avons pas oubliés et nous sommes heureux de vous retrouver ici :)
      En effet, petit pays, mais tellement à découvrir et à raconter après coup. Combien de jours avez-passés sur l’île ?
      Concernant Kopasker, non, nous n’avons pas poussé au-delà de Husavik (fort agréable, d’ailleurs) dans cette direction là. Djupivogur nous a beaucoup charmés, très calme avec un joli petit port où la pêche fut fructueuse !
      Les stations services ? C’est un des domaines dans lequel les islandais excellent et qui nous ont grandement facilité la vie à vélo (laver sa vaisselle, cuisiner nos repas, etc).
      Quels sont vos plans pour vos prochains voyages ?
      A bientôt !

  2. Emilie Monday January 8th, 2018 at 01:29 PM - Reply

    Nous avons adoré l’Islande ! C’est sûr que ce pays est plein de surprises ! :)

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