I’m always writing about the things I love about Icelandic culture. Here are some more little things that I either discovered or re-appreciated on my recent Reykjavík trip that reaffirmed to me that this really is the most civilised place on earth:
- Book stores open late – and early! You can walk around and everything is closed. Absolutely everything except the book stores. Icelanders have their priorities right! On a side note I was very proud of myself and my Icelandic language “skills” for being able to read the words on my plastic bag from Eymundsson. It says:
Hvað ert þú að lesa? (“What are you reading?”) and I didn’t know any of these words on my last visit in October…
- Patient drivers. Laugavegur is a very long and narrow street full of intersections, tourists, shops, parked cars, etc. Anywhere else this would become a street full of honking horns, slammed brakes and speeding traffic narrowly missing pedestrians. Not here, everyone seems to serenely cruise along at a slow consistent speed, patiently waiting while people cross, tourists stand in the road taking pictures, other cars stop and leave their doors open while sorting passengers out, someone can’t park….they all just drift along with no bad driving and no signs of temper, although I don’t know what the in-car conversations are like! Maybe I’m missing out on all the shouting!
- Leaving cars running outside a shop unattended while the driver goes in and does errands. Now I admit that this did happen in the small town where I grew up – but never have I seen another city where this would still happen. Unfortunately most of us live in a culture of mistrust where we are sure someone will steal things the minute we turn our backs. Madness.
- I still love the whole first-name-basis egalitarian society. I got a chuckle out of watching the news and hearing the President referred to as “Ólafur” throughout. The rest of us are not on first name terms with our politicians and take them very seriously and must always refer to them by first name and last name and/or title.
- BooztBar – this is a shop at the mall where you could basically make your own sundaes by filling up your paper cup with ice cream and then add whatever toppings you want and then you pay for it by weight. If they had this in my local mall, everyone would be stuffing their face eating everything and not paying for it and just trying to get away with getting a free ice cream and throwing the toppings at each other…ridiculous really, but little things like this can tell you a lot about a society and how trusting it is.
- A knitters paradise. I wouldn’t have appreciated this before I took up knitting last year. But where you may see just an ordinary department store, I see this – and this is just the Icelandic wool section!
- Because so much always seems to be happening there, you forget it really is a small place. This can be a good or a bad thing. I actually recognised a lot of the people working in shops from the last time I went. It’s quite fun – but would probably drive me mad if I lived there.
- Finally, if all of the above fails and you’re having a bad day, you aren’t too far away from this:
Related post: 10 Good Reasons to Live in Iceland