Our last day in Iceland rolled around. One final breakfast, a quick burst of shopping and off home.Not much planned for today. After our breakfast we had one last quick run around the shops looking for cool stuff though we did find out about the Icelandic Christmas Cat after my daughter asked why cats were randomly positioned around all the Christmas trees. It turns out Iceland has lots of tales about a cat that eats people that don’t get new clothes for Christmas, which seems a bit harsh. In recent years he’s been partially redeemed as a just a very grumpy cat (which seems a little more festive than a fashion-based kill-beast at least).
We dropped the car off and got on the plane without incident. 4 hours on the plane (it was a bit delayed as we had to be routed through a part of the airport which was still under construction) and we were back in Blighty.
Iceland was a fantastic place. Physically it was like another world; snow-covered mountains bordered by expanses of black, volcanic rock and patches of vegetation. The black sand beaches, bubbling springs, very short forests (a product of historical deforestation), geothermal vents and chaotic weather all make going outside for a wander a unique experience.
Reykjavik itself was a brilliant mix of open-spaces, big city construction and bohemian oddities. You could genuinely say you’d be able to wander in a random direction and not be sure what you’d find. The food was great as well with loads of good quality fundamentals and a few interesting quirks.
Finally the Icelanders themselves were brilliant. They were friendly and willing to help and there were plenty of times a local stopped to help us or to give us some information without being asked. The people (and media) were delightfully wry about how odd Iceland was compared to the rest of the world (lots of comments about the weather, the impenetrability of Icelandic and the ludicrousness of some of the tourist business) but there was also lots of real pride about Iceland; there was loads of political and social awareness and activism when we were there about where Iceland was going. The Icelandic personality we saw could best be summed up as wry, stoic optimism.
When we left the man from the car rental company drove us to the airport after we dropped off our car. He asked us what we thought of Iceland and we said we had a great time and would love to come back.
“Well”, he said, “we’d love to have you back.”