It's now been 2 years, yup that's flown by, since I moved to Iceland and posted my very first vlog. So to celebrate and mark the anniversary, I posted to my instagram stories and said I would do a little 'Living in Iceland Q&A' - here are my answers to your questions.
Lets start with the more general ones...
Do people live in Iceland?
Amazingly this was one of the first thoughts I had when I first met Ingimar. When I asked him where he was from and he replied Iceland, I laughed and said "nobody lived there". I know, I now live here. Well, that's what being cheeky gets you!!
How many people are in Iceland?
It sometimes feels like every walking tour that you pass on the street is discussing this. The population of Iceland in 2016 was 334,252 people (plus me).
How large is Iceland?
It's big. Iceland would fit most of the UK in its land mass but not much of it is inhabited. The population of the entire country is the same as the capital city of Scotland.
Is Iceland in Europe?
Yes, Iceland is considered as part of Europe. Geographically speaking it's closer to the UK and Europe than America. Iceland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and is part of the European Economic Area (EEA). It's a member of the Nordic Passport Union and the Schengen area making it easier to visit other European countries.
Is there any change of trend in Icelandic culture since you arrived?
Not hugely, other than tourism. The amount of tourist visiting Iceland has increased considerably in the past 15 years, but even in the last 2 years I can see the difference. With easy and free stop-overs and low cost airlines flying into Keflavik, Iceland is the place to travel. A favourite destination on Instagram, you are possibly reading this as part of your holiday research too.
- 1.3 million tourists visited in 2015
- 1.8 million tourists visited in 2016
- 2 million tourists visited in 2017
The high street looks different with tourist shops popping up where old book shops, local restaurants and craft shops were. Now we have an endless supply of what we refer to as "puffin shops". There are some nice new cafes and bars opening but a lot of new hotels when there is a lack of accommodation in Reykjavik already. Many new large hotels are being built which is more of a worry than a sign of a strong economy. It really makes you thing just how long can this last?
How do you say "come on Iceland" in Icelandic?
"Áfram Ísland" means "come on Iceland" which is the viking chant that you will know from the 2016 Euro Cup. Football is something that has always been important to Icelanders, even if they mainly support foreign teams, but Iceland was truly put on the map in the Euro Cup. It really brought out a national pride - especially when Iceland beat England - the city (those not in France for the game) gathered and celebrated for days.
What is the average Iceland temperature?
August is the warmest month and January is the coldest month in Iceland. The average annual temperature is 7'c max and 1'c min.
How do you cope with the cold?
I layer up, hope for snow (as that helps), and get into a hot pool!! To be honest its not too hard as long as you are dressed for it. The cold doesn't really bother me, I find the wind the worst. It whistled away and makes you feel so much colder. The dark winters are fine, just hang fairy lights. The long summer nights are what I find the hardest. If only I could actually hibernate and then work all summer long.
How is your Icelandic language skills?
"eg tala ekki Islendsku" which means "I don't speak Icelandic". Hmm, oh dear. I speak a little but understand a fair amount. It's hard, no excuses. I did the Tin Can beginners course (twice) and got the certificate but I didn't feel confident enough to move up a class. Maybe I will get there, maybe I will learn as my child learn, maybe I will always be struggling.
What type of Government does Iceland have?
Over to Ingimar...Iceland has parliamentary democratic republic, with four major parties in the past, but becoming more diverse in the recent years. Most parties center around the middle of politics with outliers(albeit not strong) to either side of the spectrum.
Do you feel less like a foreigner and more like a local now?
I don't know that I will ever feel like a local here but I don't feel like a foreigner and I think that has a lot to do with lifestyle. I avoid living in a bubble as much as possible and integrate where I can. I hand out with a mix of local and expat friends, I do yoga in Icelandic, I work in a mixed company (which doesn't help with learning Icelandic), and we often spend time with Ingimar's family where I listen in and try to follow along. I don't think I will feel like a local here, even if I was fluent in Iceland, it's just not that kind of community.
What's the current time in Iceland?
It's 10:30am as I type this. Iceland works on GMT - except we don't apply daylight saving.
Do you prefer summer or winter?
Will you marry me?!!
Oh boy, last week I had 3 marriage proposals. I'm one lucky lady. You see there is this rumour going around that the Icelandic government is offering money to foreigners if they marry Icelandic women.
- This is 100% not true
- I am not Icelandic
- I'm happily married, and don't really want another husband thanks.
I need a visa, can you help me?
Again, nope. I have not connections nor can I help in anyway with visas, sorry.
Where are your favourite places to stay in Iceland?
Living here, I have not actually gone out and explore much more than the typical sites - and these are usually just day trips. Last year we hired a huge summer cabin for my brothers birthday and the whole family came to visit. We have stayed in a few summer cabins and I love escaping to them, or to the family cabin, but other than that we are yet to even use the wedding voucher we got for a romantic hotel stay.
Where are your favourite places to visit in Iceland?
See my Iceland Bucket List but the highlights are:
- Near the airport: Blue Lagoon and Gunnehver Geysir.
- In Reykjavik: Harpa and Hallgrimskirja, but just wander the street and check out the houses and street art.
- The Golden Circle: Pingviller National Park, Geysir, Gulfoss Waterfall and Kerid crater.
- The South Coast: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Sólheimajökull, the Black Sand Beach, Jokulsarlon and the Diamond Beach.
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula: just drive around, it's all beautiful.
- Best Pools: Secret Lagoon, Reykjadalur Hot River and Seljavallalaug Natural Pool
What are the best tours in Iceland?
Other great tours I would recommend are: