I am in amazing Iceland, a land of many contrasts: tall mountains of stone, created by volcanoes; crystal clear waterways formed from melting glaciers; huge tons of water rushing down many waterfalls; erupting geysers, boiling hot; rain one minute and clear blue skies the next. There is a saying here in Iceland—if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes—and it will change. I have even seen this on a T shirt.
It is also the land of the midnight sun. I took a couple of pictures close to midnight the other night and the sun was just starting to set.
Our guide, Gunnar, has been most informative in his running bus commentary. He says he does tours in the summer, and is a photographer and musician during the rest of the year. Iceland was uninhabited until 870 AD when the Vikings arrived, and people moved here from Norway. It was not until 1944 that the Icelandic people won their independence and became a sovereign nation. The land experiences mild winters and cool summers. When I posted on Facebook about how cold it was standing by the waterfall, it was 10 deg. C, about 50 deg. F.
There is a 25.4% VAT (sales tax) on goods, and 11% tax on food. Gas costs about $2/liter which is about 3 times more expensive than the U.S., mainly because taxes account for about 50%. Since all oil is imported, Gunnar says the government sees this as a way to make money!
Iceland has a population of 330,000 people and 80,000 horses—mostly raised for export. The Icelandic horses are known for having five gaits, as opposed to normal horses which have three gaits (walk, trot, and gallop)—the Icelandic horses also tilt and pace. There are no snakes in Iceland — also no McDonalds!