Never fear, dear readers, upon reading this post’s title, that this is going to be some financial analysis of Iceland shareholders, banking and debt, because frankly, that’s all a little bit too complicated for me. The ins and outs of the 2008-2011 crisis and economic depression are as clear to me as Pink Floyd’s meaning of their psychedelic tune and lyrics to Bike the only bit of which seems to make sense is “I’ll give you anything, everything, if you want things’ or, the Icelandic version which of course could be ” I’ll give you Althing, Thingvellir, if you want Thingskalar”. Basically, I am not clued up enough on geo-politics and global economic wizardry to dare even try comment. Suffice to say, that Iceland is, in 2017, for any sojourners to that neck of the woods, definitely not a thrifter’s paradise. It is shockingly expensive.
I’ve had the good fortune to have just taken a no-cost trip to Iceland. Free, in that I didn’t have to pay out, but not free, in that I was leading a group of students on a residential educational visit. This meant, all totted up, that I worked evenings and three additional days for no pay, but still got paid my normal salary for the other days. But let’s not split hairs, I had no outlay of costs so I’m counting it as a freebie. We must celebrate our few-and-far-between perks for this job when we can, and I will certainly not grumble about this one.
Of course, I could now go into paragraph after paragraph of wondrous sights, majestic landscapes, and exotic smells (well, eggy sulphuric tap water is unusual enough to be regarded as fascinatingly glamorous even if you have to gag slightly while taking a shower. Note to self, hold back on the herbal shower gel or you end up with skin with a lingering aura of eggs benedict) but the tourist board do such a good job here I feel I’d be wasting my time. We hired a minibus, self-catered, smuggled in our own teabags (foiled however, because even when it is a British teabag, there is no accounting for the said water and the cow juice ‘Mjolk’ producing anything that tastes like you expected) and so managed to keep costs down to make it affordable for the students. Of course, they then spent all their free time (and spending money) supping 500 kroner coffees in wooly-bohemian-hygge cushion-laden coffee houses, and devouring 800 kroner bars of chocolate. Our Brexit pound meant their wallets took a severe beating.
However, dusting the moths out of my purse, I found a real skinflinting gem. In downtown Reykjavik, where space is not an issue and paint colour is an essential, the bank premises are large and ornate. There are comfortable chairs and little tables. There is a free coffee machine, with a jug of real mjolk. Although entering as a bonafide customer, and therefore able to claim, nay be entitled to, a quick warming beverage, it seemed foolhardy to brave the blustery snow and negative temperatures (Gluggavedur for those of you with the Icelandic lingo off pat) just to get into a coffee shop and offload my kroner. True, there were not any Danish (the good colonial power of course) pastries there to top up my calorific intake, but I could while away a pleasant hour or two in these circumstances. Double bonus; I was avoiding the extortionately priced gift shops at the same time. These Icelanders are geniuses. I could plan my itinerary around the location and opening hours of the banks of Iceland, and keep myself up to my frugal speed in full caffeinated style. Landsbankinn (Reykjavik branch) I salute you.
Does anyone have any other favourite, must see/must do places in Iceland? I’m sharing this website as it made me chuckle. I guess we all need a raisin in the end of our sausage, and that’s got to be better than sour whale!