For the Greater Goods

A lifestyle blog for the conscious consumer

I Come From The Land of the Ice and Snow…

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I went to Iceland! Did ya miss me? I sure missed blogging. While I was away I thought of so many ideas for future posts and I can’t wait to get started. But first I would like to share a little about my trip and see how many times I can write the word “Iceland” without annoying everyone.

Right now you might be thinking, “Annie, what does Iceland have to do with your blog?”. I promise it relates. Icelanders are very conscious, environmental, and sustainable folk. You have to be when you live in such an isolated place where it can snow for 75% of the year.

First, I would just like to say that my trip to Iceland was an extremely fun and beautiful and inspiring experience. I highly recommend going on an adventure in Iceland if you get the chance. There are so many things to do and beautiful things to see and fascinating places to explore. I got to walk on a glacier, snorkel between tectonic plates (yes, the water was absurdly cold), hike in gorgeous national parks, trek through an ice cave, relax at a geothermal spa, ride a zodiac through a iceberg ridden lagoon, eat delicious local food, explore cities, and see more sheep, waterfalls, and rainbows than I have in my entire life.

I traveled around Iceland on the Ring Road, which follows the perimeter of the island.  It is about 1,332 kilometers (828 miles) and we did it in 9 days. Some days we drove three hours and others we only drove one. The driving wasn’t even bad because: a) there isn’t any traffic and often times you go miles without even seeing another car and b) the sights are incredible. It was cool to see how the geography changed from region to region. I really feel like I was able to get a good feel for the entire country.

Here are a couple pictures I took that’ll show you just how pretty this country is. It was so impossibly hard to narrow the pictures down to just a few from the 300 that I took…

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Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic. So many fosses in Iceland!

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That white part on the mountain is a glacier. It is a part of the biggest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajokull. Jokull means glacier in Icelandic.

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They gave us axes to use during the glacier walk. We were suppose to use them for support if we needed them, but I think they were mostly just for show. Naturally I had to test mine out. It worked. Oh and the black/gray stuff on the ice is ash from past volcano eruptions.

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Iceberg dead ahead! The ice is a pretty blue because when the ice breaks off of the glacier it is super compact and all of the air is super compressed. So when light enters the ice all but the blue light waves are dissipated. Science. It works like the blue in the sky.

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And the pictures don’t even do the landscape any justice! You really have to see in person to experience the actual beauty.

All the people we met had a distinct respect and appreciation for nature and the beauty of their environment. Most of our local guides were excited about the volcanoes erupting, which is the exact opposite reaction I was expecting. Before I left when I told people I was going to Iceland they all asked if I was worried about the volcanoes. So I assumed Icelanders would also be freaking out about an eruption. And in some ways they were, but it was excitement freaking out and not worried freaking out. They talked about watching the eruption streaming live online and how areas around the volcano have to be blocked off during the eruptions because people will literally walk miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers) to catch a glimpse of the volcano and sometimes they get a little too close. They have such a passion for the land and its geology and preserving the environment around them. It’s admirable.

On top of that, nearly 100% of Iceland is powered by renewable energy. Hydro and geothermal energy are responsible for powering almost the entire island. I got the see the largest geothermal energy plant and man did it smell! The stink is from the hydrogen sulfide in the steam collected from the geothermal reservoir.

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Imagine the stench of 100 rotten eggs. Now multiply that by the area of this plant. That’s how bad it smelled.

Although Iceland might seem like the environmental dreams, it is also suffering from the effects of global warming. When I did a glacier walk, I learned that the glaciers are melting faster than ever before. It is natural for glacier to through cycles of growing and shrinking, but the rate at which the glaciers are currently melting is unnatural. And what would this world be without giant chunks of ice in Iceland?

Icelanders are also very conscious when it comes to food. I went to Iceland expecting to have some to have some interesting meals. I’m a fairly picky eater and had read a few articles about strange and gross Icelandic food (sheep head, no thanks!), which worried me. Would I be able to eat? Huge concern. But I’m hear to tell you not to believe any of that hoop-blah! Sure they eat fermented sharks and eggs, but I don’t think those foods really represent Iceland. I literally didn’t have a bad meal while I was there. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious. I had some of the best seafood of my life and I live in Maine!

Because of Iceland’s small populations, high environmental consciousness, strict government regulations, and geographic isolation, the meat and seafood are some of the healthiest and purest in the world. Om nom nom!

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LIttle sheep butts covered all the hills, valleys, and fields.

Another cool thing: in the summer they all let the animals roam free. We saw mostly sheep and horses wandering around. The animals are kept in a certain area by natural barriers such as rivers and mountains. Then at the end of the summer all the farmers from each town get together and heard all the sheep together then sort out whose is whose. Total teamwork.

So have I convinced you to go to Iceland yet? Maybe? Well if you’re on the fence, just check out this song. You are guaranteed to hear it 100 times while you’re there. I have no idea what the words mean, I just hope it’s nothing bad. Can’t you just picture yourself driving through the country with that infectious beat? I promise you won’t get sick of it at all….. ok maybe a little.

And if you have any questions, I would be more than happy to help!

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