We just returned from a month travelling and criss-crossing the globe. Thanks to my fiancé’s job we could travel with stand by tickets, which made this trip possible without breaking the bank. While we were visiting Japan, Singapore and Portugal, we encountered some things that Iceland could adopt from these destinations. Since Iceland is a fairly young developed tourist destination it goes without saying that there is still room for improvements. Of course, we understand countries are different. Anyway, here are some stimuli we came across during our journey.
1. Vending Machines
In Japan, I am sure everyone of you have heard of, vending machines are everywhere. You can find them on every street corner. Even though we didn’t find the crazy ones filled with all kinds of funny stuff, we sure did use them every day to stay hydrated with water, fancy ice tea or soda. Since electricity is cheap in Iceland, I am sure the upkeeping of vending machines wouldn’t be to costly. Also, Iceland is notourisly expensive with everything connected to service, speak sales staff in stores. Plus, only a few shops are open 24/7. If you only want to grab a quick sandwich, skyr or Appelsín after 21:00 why not with a vending machine. Placed next to a hostel in downtown Reykjavík or in a remote village, I am pretty sure this idea wouldn’t turn out too bad. My Japanase colleague also added another important role of vending machines: In case of emergency, like earthquakes, vending machines offer a quick access to necessities while the main supply chain might be destroyed or interrupted. With 32 active volcanoes this could also be a helpful mission for vending machines here in Iceland.
Water in Iceland is plentiful and cheap. So why are there bidets nowhere to be found. I have stayed in some hotels and guesthouses around Iceland and never did I encounter a bidet – neither the Japanese style toilet-and-bidet-in-one with a lot of fancy adjustments nor the French stand-alone bidet with one simple water nozzle. I got used to them so quickly in Japan I don’t want to miss them. The only reason I can think of they are not en vogue in Iceland (yet?) is, because Iceland is an expensive country when it comes to everything connected with importations – at the end it might be for sheer money saving reasons. As always!
3. Whole Fish in Restaurants
We were wondering why a fish-rich country like Iceland never serves whole fish in restaurants. We understand that a whole cod might be a bit much for lunch (they can get as heavy as 12kg), but what about hering or mackerel. We know that restaurants usually get whole fresh fish delivered, but I have never seen a whole fish served eventually. In Portugal, Singapore or Latvia this was quite often the case. My guess is that – again – it’s for money reasons. Probably nobody could afford it in the already pricey Icelandic restaurants.
4. Warning Signs with fine statements
Portugal in some ways felt like a warm version of Iceland: It was almost all the time windy, the coastal rock formations were spectacular and tourists were behaving as reckless as in Iceland. At the Praia da Marinha in the Algarve we were watching a group of Instagram-addicted visitors, who couldn’t care less about the big fat sign stating the 300€ fine that would apply if they would get caught climbing the fence to the dangerous sink holes. Iceland is implementing more and more warning signs, but so far I haven’t seen any which mentions the actual fine that would apply. I guess, though, this wouldn’t make a difference anyway. An Instagram-addiction might be too strong of a drive.
Especially in Singapore and Japan we saw the stark difference in the state of art in public transportation. Sure, both countries are grossly different in population and stage of development compared to Iceland and therefore are way ahead of this tiny nation. Still there was this reminder, that Icelanders are way too keen on their car and public transport is kind watched upon with contempt.
Have you been to Iceland and were wondering why there are some things missing you were used to in other travel destinations? I am curious to hear what you noticed.