I was really excited about going to Iceland. I startet listening to the icelandic band "Sigur Ros" when i was 15 or 16 years old. It's an amazing and unique band, which totally "sounds like iceland", and their music videos are packed with the most beautiful icelandic natural spectacles. My mind got tricked with many clichés: epic natural panoramas, woolen sweaters, lots of sea food, and good music. The clichés turned out to be right.
After a friend had told me about the annual music festival called "iceland airwaves", which takes place in Reykjavik, I had to google it online. I was instantly conviced. Reading more and more about that festival, I got the message that "ICELAND AIRWAVES" is a festival for music lovers, purists, ....yeah for the music snobs :). I had to get there! 200 concerts a day, during 5 days! Over 1000 concerts in different places all over the city! Some of the bands which were playing at the festival, were still on my check-list. I needed to get to Iceland! I bought an early-bird ticket for Iceland Airwaves almost 10 months before the event. After i found a package-deal (hotel&flight) for 350 euro, instead of 650 euro, it was a done deal! [fyi check out "WOW Airline" for the cheapest flights from London].
My first impressions I got after spending some days in Reykjavik, or mainly in Iceland:
• After my arrival at the airport I noticed the difference in design and warm decor of the airport.
Keflavik (international airport of Iceland), which probably is the nicest airport i've ever visited. Later I noticed that the hotels & shops which looked alike, were heavily influenced by the nordic design that we know from Ikea, Sweden or Norway. Simple, but unique.
• Pretty designs, pretty people. Icelandic people are beautiful people. Crazy that there are barely no obese icelandics. All the icelandics i observed in Reykjavik and some other cities, looked pretty fit, thin, and had the most pretty faces. If you're on the hunt for your next partner, go visit Iceland ! :)
• I expected lots of delicious sea food and traditional icelandic dishes. But many locals strongly recommended me to avoid those dishes. I had a fish soup on daily basis, which was the best fish soup i ever had. I also had the worst sush i ever had in Reykjavik, even though I never had bad sushi before. Gastronomical wise...Iceland wasn't a big fish. They had lots of fast-food restaurants, or the typical greasy dishes you get in every other country, for example: fish&chips.
• Is everybody an artist or a musician in Iceland? I read that 60-65% of the icelandic population lives in the area around Reykjavik. The festival line-up was packed with too many fantastic bands from Iceland. Bands which have a hard time getting famous outside of their country. I dont get it. So many talented musicians live in Iceland, with a unique sound, beautiful music and lots of talents (some band names to check out: Valdimar, Rokkurro, Vök, Jonsi, Sigur Ros, Asgeir, ...and so many more). I became a huge fan of their music-scene.
• YES Iceland is VERY expensive. 12 euro for a gin tonic. 6 euro for a beer. 22 euro for a soup, water, and a coffee. 55 euro for sushi. I got a rental car for 24h, a cheap Toyota Yaris [shitty car] but it was cheaper than the sushi i had the night before. Food and drinks are very expensive. Busrides were expensive as well, when you didn't have the exact change. Busride was 350 kroners. So you needed at least 4 coins to get the 350 kroners together. 4 Tickets a day, makes a lot of change. I rarely carried that much change in my pocket. Most of the time I had to pay with a 500 kroners bill. And you never get any change back from the bus-driver. TAXI is SUPER EXPENSIVE. Dont ever take a cab in iceland.
• The most impressive thing I saw in Iceland, was the amazing nature! So many waterfalls, geisyrs, rivers, oceans, mountains, crazy sunsets, northern lights.... a blast of an natural experience! Take many storage-cards with you, because you're going to need them for the photos. The nature-scenery often looks unreal. I've seen so much beauty in 5 days traveling. Japan was quite impressive, but nature-wise no country beats Iceland.
The only thing I would reconsider, the next time I'm going to visit Iceland, don't do sightseeing and a music festival in one day. It's just too much, too much to appreciate at once. On my next travels to Iceland I'd consider doing a roadtrip for 5-6 days across the whole island, and then do 3 days of one of their popular music festival [Iceland Airwaves or Secret Solstice].
Oh i forgot about another fact that stroke me while being in Iceland... the pride of the icelandics! Does it sound bad, if I say "pride" ? I guess not. The people who live on that iceland, who grew up over there, are proud of what they have around them. They don't brag, or show their pride that much, as we know it from the U.S. "'muricaaaaaaa". But the way they talk, welcome people, their daily clothes... you can feel that they're pride of where they come from. You don't see a lot of immigrants, barely none... You never feel walking around in a melting pot, with different cultures, it's just icelandic people around you. And I kind of like it when people are proud of their own culture, and the history that made their country, a fact that makes their country unique. Somehow it reminded me of Japan. It's a nice to see that a country doesn't lose its own face.