10 things you get in Iceland (and don’t get so much in Greenland)

This isn’t your average post about the wonders of Iceland. Forget hot springs, glaciers and volcanic landscapes. This is just cool living in Reykjavík. 

Living in Greenland makes you appreciate the strangest things, and you start to cherish what you used to take for granted. A week’s sojourn for a cultural project in Iceland was full of overwhelming experiences, but probably not the type that a ‘normal’ urban city-sider would consider special. If you were following The Fourth Continent’s posts on Instagram (and a bit on Facebook), you might have seen some of what this strange Aussie went wild about:

1. Swimming outdoors – the possibility to get a tan! Even if it’s cold in Iceland, the geothermal heated water means that you can go to the public pools when you like. Since it was so much a part of my lifestyle the last few months in Sydney, I really missed swimming and snorkelling. This was an originally retro-designed pool house at Hveragerdi, not far from Reykjavík.

2. Monster cars. The ability to drive for hours and hours and hours. Many people comment on how many cars there are in Nuuk, for the 15 minutes of driving there is available in the city. They also comment on how big the cars are. Iceland is worse, it seems. A local friend said that some people complain if two people have to share one car. Still, they can go AROUND the country in Iceland, and up mountains and through extreme terrain, so you can see why it might make sense to have these big four wheels.

3. Trees. Though wood is still rare in Iceland, I was going bonkers about the abundance of trees growing around Iceland’s capital in comparison to Nuuk. Most of Greenland really doesn’t have trees which lends to its stark landscape. This lush green view was from our bedroom window.

4. The choice of beer. Iceland has some thriving microbreweries that brew tasty beer. So there’s more choice and it’s cheaper too. That’s relative, of course. It still costs about ISK700 (or $AU7) for a beer. A beer in a pub in Nuuk will set you back $AU12.

5. Vintage stores. Milder weather means that you have more choice for your wardrobe, and vintage is big in Iceland. The joke among the locals in Iceland is that you can always tell a tourist by how bad they dress – they are usually wearing hiking gear and hiking boots. Greenland has one second-hand store, but due to the weather most of the year you have to dress practically. You just have to be more creative!

6. Grass. A perfectly manicured lawn. The possibility to lie on grass. Yes please! This guy played lawn bowls in the city centre – if you got a strike, you won a free game at the local bowling alley.

7. Plenty of choice for cafes! Or more than the four in Nuuk =) This was one of the many trendy places that locals and tourists alike could hang out. There are lots of cosy streets that give cool vibes. This cafe was right next to a prison!

8. Cool art and grafitti street culture. When graffiti becomes art, even the skate park is beautiful. Street culture is burgeoning in Nuuk, but the same respect for graffiti art is not there. At Nuuk Playground, it’s disappointing to see that the art that was painted by students from the production school were tagged over by other graffiti goons.

9. Flowers. Summer was definitely upon us in full bloom. It was refreshing to see the myriad of colours from the flowers (and of course, the lava landscapes were amazing too).

10a. Wearing less! I went to Scotland a few years ago and couldn’t believe how skimpily the girls dressed for a night out in cold weather. Strong girls! In the photo below, I’m wearing a silk dress, leather jacket and sheer stockings –  probably the barest I’ve been in the past few months.

10b. Finding a cobbler. The soles from my leather boots fell off in Nuuk which led me on a mission to find a cobbler. Only to find out that there’s no such profession in Greenland! So I got my boots fixed and polished in Iceland for $AU40.

10c. Recycling. On a similar note, in Greenland they chuck everything out once used or broken (including leather boots!). No recycling at all for paper, plastic, glass or greens. Everything goes into one dump. I think that due to the small population, it’s actually too expensive to recycle.

So not really mind-blowing, was it? We did have time to go around and see the nature too, and we learnt alot about culture for the project, but it was also fun to be excited about the cost of lettuce and Skyr (Icelandic yoghurt) in the shops.

If it’s one thing that I’m sure of, it is that humans can adapt to circumstances. They can easily get used to things the way they are. It’s a good feeling to appreciate the little things in life.

Disclaimer: All photos have been taken with the iphone and badly instagrammed!

7 thoughts on “10 things you get in Iceland (and don’t get so much in Greenland)

  1. Pingback: Playing duck on Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon | The Fourth Continent

  2. Pingback: Iceland: Hiking on Vatnajökull, Europe’s biggest glacier! | The Fourth Continent

  3. Pingback: The rollercoaster ride that was 2013 | The Fourth Continent

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