Whilst having a coffee in a café we had to pinch ourselves and make the comment, “Hey, can you believe that we’re here in Iceland?” We had only ever spoken of this far-away country. We had a sensationally, awesome and fully rewarding day. We walked everywhere and easily clocked up 15kms.
A few facts that we learned today: Reykjavik means Smoky Bay when it should have been “steamy”. It was a ‘mistake’ because what the discoverer of Reykjavik had seen from afar was steam from geo-thermal activity, not smoke. Iceland uses the clean geo-thermal energy by piping the heat into EVERY home and building in Reykjavik as well as pipes under every road and footpath, the result being that the snow and ice just melts away not disrupting transportation. No one pays for heating.
Taxes are very high; income tax begins at 37% for everyone. As a result, ALL education is free, ALL medical is free, high welfare system to eliminate homelessness (everyone sleeps in a home/room over their head) and ALL old people are looked after (Jane and I have filled out our immigration papers). The population is 340 000 and Iceland became a Republic in June 1944.
There is virtually NO crime with hardly any police. No public building or government facility is guarded by police … except … one … USA embassy.
Icelandic water is the purest on earth so no need to have plastic bottled water in Iceland. Drink cold water straight from the tap. The Prime Minister’s Office is a former prison (see photo). The oldest high school in the world (over 1000years) is in Reykjavik and is the ONLY high school out of the millions in the world to have the most Nobel Prize winners … TWO. The country’s written and spoken language is Icelandic, a Nordic language very similar to the language spoken by Iceland's first settlers. Icelandic is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. English and Danish are mandatory subjects in school. Most Icelanders speak fluent English. In fact, they welcome the opportunity - so never be shy about approaching an Icelander. I haven’t.
The buildings are colourful because Iceland has many months of limited daylight. Sunrise at 11.45am, sunset at 3pm. Vitamin D pills are taken by many of the population. From mid-May – mid-August the sun sets for only 3hrs so effectively there is 24hrs
of daylight!! and it is common to see people wearing sun glasses at late at ‘night’. The average annual temperature is 5 degrees Celcius. It was very cold for us today. When we stepped out this morning it was 2 degrees. When we arrived back at the hotel it was 10 degrees. We felt the cold ‘all over’ due to the breeze that was coming off the North Atlantic all day. More layers tomorrow.
The people have an APP to check that they are related or not related as having surnames is only a very, very new occurrence. When a child was born the ‘surname’ was the fathers first name. Example: given name – Andrew. Fathers name Eric. Offspring = son. Therefore, I would be named, Andrew Eric Son. Jane would be, Jane Alan Daughter. My sister Erica would be, Erica Eric Daughter. Hence the app to check if Andrew and Erica were related if they happen to be boyfriend/girlfriend.
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