You may be feeling left out because all the cool people you know are posting National Geographic shots from Icelandic waterfalls. Good for them. Don’t be sad that you are not going, too. Let me explain why, in 7 reasons.
- It costs the earth
If I am going to spend $500 on a hotel room, it needs to at least pretend to be the Four Seasons. Not, as I recently experienced, a blah guesthouse with shared bathroom in a nondescript, frozen Icelandic outpost. There are much cheaper ways to feel bitter and taken for granted, if you’re into that.
2. It is overrun with tourists
Iceland is getting a lot of love these days. But just like a shitty relationship, that love smells like abuse. It is being raped by masses of humanity, who are all pining for Paris or sexy European capitals, but stopping off in Reykjavik for play because it’s free. Thanks to promotional airline stopovers, Iceland has made itself a sidechick, because it’s novel, easy, and doesn’t ask for commitment. It takes all comers, with its glacial, come-hither stare.
And come they do. College bums, camping all over the country, doing it in inappropriate places. Chinese tourists, with their identical rolling luggages enrobed in neon straps and tour group swag. Doing it only in appropriate places, which leaves no room for the rest of us. Hordes of humanity, descending on a tiny north atlantic island for 2 months every summer.
3. There is no culinary culture
If you enjoy flaccid hotdogs, Iceland is your jam. Or just take all the Kronur out of your wallet, light it on fire, and watch it burn. The ash will taste about the same as an Icelandic hotdog. And you will feel warmer.
Leave your silly dreams about European culinary adventures at home, where they won’t be crushed.
4. There is no food.
It is a barren, frozen tundra. Food does not grow there.
This will make you sad if you are stopping over on your way from somewhere, say like anywhere else on earth. Except maybe Greenland. I imagine Greenland might have worse food.
5. The coffee sucks
In the mood for a creamy latte, decorated with love and a little artistic swirl on top? Oh, me too!
Iceland will fuck your coffee dreams. In Iceland, when you want coffee, you pay $5 and are handed a nespresso pod. Make your own. Say thank you. Wonder why you feel dead inside.
5. The architecture will make you eyes blister.
The Reykjavik gangs have tried to help, spraying most of downtown with graffiti. It’s a strong effort, if you are into urban grunge chic. Forget notions of Scandinavian hygge, ambience, and snow covered chalets. That’s Norway, which is far away.
Iceland’s aluminum clad, industrial-park building vibe is strong. It basically has the corner on slapped together 60’s architecture. No other European country can compete with the run down, sloppily thrown together sadness that passes for construction. Eastern bloc countries, in midwinter, have more charm.
6. Driving is miserable
You will spend $100 a day for a shitty jalopy. It will smell of smoke, and a curious bouquet of vomit and cat pee. It will be pockmarked with dings and scratches, not unlike your high school boyfriend. And just like him, it’s a low powered ride.
When you return the jalopy, with a lingering odor of death clinging tenaciously, a low wage, desperately scruffy viking youth of about 18 will inspect the car. Thoroughly. With an undercarriage mirror, to detect the slightest abrasions to the already shitty paint job. You wait, in the biting icelandic wind, eyes streaming and children whining, while he ever so carefully inspects the exterior. You will be charged $500 for damage that you did not cause, but you are running late for your flight so you don’t fight it*.
*A friends experience.
7. Locals don’t really want you there
Iceland crashed hard in 2008. Tourism has helped the country claw back from the economic abyss, but at the expense of a proud culture’s sense of independence. To scrape by, many Icelanders are now forced to rent out rooms in their homes, some charming, others are as cold and unwelcoming as your mother in law’s stare*.
*So I’ve heard
** Not my mother in law. She’s great.
Iceland is having a moment. Let her be, and enjoy the photos from all your sucker friends paying $500 for a crap guesthouse. Enjoy them, and laugh, because you now know better than to join the parade.