Visit to Iceland (1): arrival

For more than a decade now, my sister Silvia and I have had a tradition of most years taking a holiday abroad together without our partners and this year our 13th such trip is to Iceland with Regent Travel. It is a new destination for both of us and the 74th country that I have visited.

It is almost a three hour flight from London to Reykjavik. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Iceland is not as cold as it sounds and it enjoys a cool temperate, oceanic climate with temperatures at this time of year about 12C. 

Iceland is said to have been first inhabited in 874 AD and it has the world’s oldest and longest-running parliament. For most of its history, it was controlled by Norway and then  Denmark and it has only been an independent nation since 1918. 

The population is merely about 360,000 – something like the size of a London borough – and some two-thirds of the population live in or around the capital Reykjavik. Since the country now receives about 2.2 million tourists a year, that is more than six times the population. 

The Icelandic language has hardly changed in 1,000 years. The alphabet has 32 letters and there are approximately 50 words for snow. 

Iceland is the ninth most expensive country in the world because of the need to import so much and the high cost of labour. The cost of a cappuccino in a cafe in the capital is around £4-6 and a restaurant meal is anything from £45 upwards. 

We are staying at the Hotel Reykjavik Centrum which has 89 rooms located in three colourful 18th century-style buildings.


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