Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Iceland--94 nations for me!

Reykjavik, Iceland Today 9-21-16

The captain warned it will be cold. He said "we booked a trip to a place called Iceland, what do we expect?".

Iceland is a Nordic island country, the world's 18th largest island, that is volcanically and geologically active replete with mountains, glaciers, lava fields, waterfalls, hot springs, and rivers.




































Today, I took the famous "Golden Circle" tour that included a full day scenic touring with visits to the "big three": Gullfoss Waterfall, one of the prettiest in the country; the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir Valley National Park, the birthplace of Iceland and the ancient Viking parliament; and the Geysir hot spring area with bubbling hot springs geothermal area and the only spouting geysers in Iceland. We also visited the town of Hveragerdi to see the 2008 earthquake exhibition (and for a rest stop). Our final stop was a visit to the Faxafoss Waterfall.

Yes, it was cold and windy but the breathtaking scenery distracted us with its feast for the eyes!!

Some info:

--Iceland is a progressive, modern, highly developed nation that consistently  ranks at the top of measurements for quality of life (UN Hunan Development Index), has one of the most productive world economies, and is one of the greenest (in the top 10) based on vast largely renewable energy sources (85% of primary energy supply). 100 years ago, they were the poorest country in Europe; now they are one of the wealthiest. 

--It is safe and peaceful. No locks on doors. One murder every 7 years.

--After the devastating financial crises/ banking collapse in December 2007, they jailed many of the guilty bankers and the prime minister. Banks were not  given money--the people were. They paid off their mortgages. Tourism has helped fuel the economic recovery.

--Iceland is debt-free.

--They take in 200 refugees per year--families only.  Each community will take in a family and provide support and training.

--Fishing fuels 40% of the economy and tourism contributes 50%.

--They have 28 colleges (age 16-20 yrs) and 14 universities--all free. 99.98% literacy rate.  The population is only 330,000!

--No inequality. 1.1% unemployment.

--Icelanders oppose EU membership. 

--Has the smallest population of any NATO member and is the only one with no standing army. The US was stationed here throughout the cold war and did not withdraw its last forces until 2006.

--The population is 330,000 with 2/3 living in the capital of Reykjavik.

--The birthrate is 2.6 kids per family, the highest in Europe because--you guessed it-there is nothing else to do.

--1000 residents leave Iceland every year--within 1 year, 80% return, within 5 years, 90% return.

--It is so homogenous that the worlds largest genetic testing company is located here.

--60% are atheist and 20% are agnostic.

--They have 37 bank holidays.

--They pay you $4000 per child to have children.

--Very socialist and very capitalist in business.

--Ranks number 7 in life expectancy--86 years.

--They have 2nd tallest men in the world after Denmark.

--Politics: right ring is socialistic and left wing is very socialistic.

--There are 72 (minimally used) golf courses.  There is no ice hockey. They are bad at winter sports because it doesn't get very cold. It doesn't snow much on the coasts where people live in this temperate climate with mild winters and cool summers.  

--They have no summer or winter clothes---just clothes.

--Swimming pools are naturally heated geothermally.

--It was ruled by both Norway and later Denmark--gaining its independence in 1918.

--Their language is virtually unchanged from old Norse. They can read 12th century literature with no problem. A third of English is based on old Norse. Many of their vocabulary words are very recognizabe.

--They have no crime.  A minimal police force.  Seeing a policeman is as rare as spotting an elf.

--A small 100-person prison; a life sentence here is 7 years. Doors are not locked in prisons. The prison rooms are like hotel rooms with en suite bath. Prisoners have the key to their own cells. It is very humane. (Our tour guide is horrified by how inhumane US prisons are.)

--Attending the annual gay pride parade is a family outing with 100,000 in attendance.

--They give summer jobs (landscaping, tree planting etc.) to school kids (ages 12-16) because of labor shortages. The govnmt pays approx $1000 per worker.

--They have the highest per capita Coca Cola consumption.

--In Iceland, you have kids, go to University, buy a house, then get married if you still like each other. Both mother and father get 9 months paternity leave, each.

--It is literally located on the continental divide, on both the European and North American  teutonic plates. When the plates separate, lava eruptions filled in the gaps to create the mainland.

--In farming, no factories or pesticides allowed. Foods have a very short shelf life.

--Airport security is almost non existent.

---1.2 million sheep live here. 90 million puffins live here.

--One of their volcanos is scheduled to erupt. Hopefully, not today, (9-21-2016).

--Our guide said the volcanic ash episide from 2010 was completely blown out of proportion by the media, worldwide.  Air travel could have been resumed quickly. Icelanders were flying in and out with no problem.  He gave tours to media folks who admitted they were lying about the conditions.  They said they'd be fired otherwise.

--Game of Thrones scenes north of the Wall were shot here--including the Jon Snow and Ygritte love-making cave scene. The Season 7 premier will be delayed because "Winter is Coming!" Iceland, Ireland, and Turkey are the primary shooting locations. Hollywood shoots films set in future and on another planets are filmed here.

This makes my 94th nation visited.

Scotland and Ireland ports of call are next on our journey.





























Monday, September 19, 2016

Faroe Islands-my 93rd nation visited!


FB Torshavn, Faroe Islands-
More Viking territory today.
Today, I visited the Faroe Islands, the 18-island archipelago, part of the Kingdom of Denmark, that is situated between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean.  It has a temperate climate with year round temps averaging 39-56 degrees F. 

A few Faroe Islands facts:
--Since 1948, the Faroe Islands have been a self-governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has its own parliament and its own flag.
--The population is just under 50,000.
--The fishing industry is the largest source of income for the Faroes, with fish products contributing over 97% of the export volume. Tourism is the second largest industry, followed by woolen and other manufactured products.
--Over 80% of the population belong to the established church, the Evangelical Lutheran.
--There are 70,000 sheep here.
--There are 3 traffic lights here.
--Faroese is the national language and is rooted in Old Norse. Nordic languages are readily understood by most Faroese, and English is also widely spoken, especially among the younger people.  
--There is no prison here.
--There are no bugs.
--There is no Mc Donald's here. Burger King: yes.
--Popular tourism activities include: hiking, boating, fishing, bird watching attending music festivals, and scenic road trips to experiencethe islands’ mountains, valleys and grassy hillsides,  and steep coastal cliffs that harbor thousands of seabirds.
--I took a walking tour of Tinganes, the historic center of Torshavn, thriving, picturesque modern capital of the Faroe Islands. The company is Visit Torshavn.
--We might see Northern Lights tonight.













Places Where I Have Traveled *=more than once

  • India
  • China
  • Dubai
  • Egypt*
  • Russia*
  • Israel
  • Indonesia
  • Iceland
  • Cuba Aug 2016
  • Tahiti Feb 2016
  • Cook Islands Feb 2016
  • New Zealand Feb 2016
  • Australia Feb 2016
  • Belize
  • French Polynesia Jan 2016
  • Shetland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Brunei
  • Morocco
  • Brazil*
  • Philippines
  • North Borneo
  • Crete*
  • Ionian Islands*
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Azores*
  • Norway
  • Dodecanese Islands (Rhodes)
  • Bosnia
  • Palestein
  • Croatia
  • Romania
  • Argentina
  • Ecuador
  • Tunisia
  • Corsica
  • Bulgaria
  • Columbia
  • Peru
  • Montenegro
  • Columbia
  • Chile*
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uruguay
  • Jordan
  • Gibraltar
  • Turkey*
  • Bermuda
  • Estonia*
  • Viet Nam
  • Finland*
  • Malta*
  • Thailand
  • Guatemala
  • Crete*
  • Jamaica*
  • Panama*
  • Grand Canyon
  • Scotland
  • Niagara Falls
  • Greece*
  • France* lived there
  • Japan*
  • Bilbao, Spain*
  • Canada*
  • Costa Rica
  • Bahamas*
  • Banff Hot Springs
  • Hawaii*
  • Italy*
  • Catalina Island
  • Luxembourg*
  • St Johns
  • St Marteen/St Martin
  • St Thomas
  • South Padre Island Texas
  • Mexico*
  • Vatican City*
  • Austria*
  • Denmark*
  • Monaco
  • Portugal*
  • Belgium*
  • Holland*
  • Ireland*
  • England*
  • Sweden*
  • Switzerland*
  • Spain*
  • Germany*

Events/Experiences

  • Pyramids at Giza
  • Taj Mahal
  • Climbed Great Wall of China
  • Western Wall-Jerusalem
  • Transited Panama Canal 3X
  • Rode Camel in Tunisia
  • fathom Adonia--1st US cruise ship to Cuba--Aug 2016
  • Old Town in Havana
  • Burj Kalifa in Dubai
  • Saw Kangeroos, Wallabees, and Koalas in Australia
  • Kayaked in Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  • Vaparreto # 1 in Venice
  • National Museum in Brunei
  • Saw Geysers Erupt in Iceland
  • Drink at Raffles Hotel-Singapore
  • Fish Spa in Greece and Philippines
  • The Peak in Hong Kong
  • Pedicab Tour in Manilla Philippines
  • Road Amalfi Coast, Italy
  • Chewed Gum in Singapore
  • Marched in St Pat's Day Parade in Dublin
  • Sailed Kotor Bay
  • Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia
  • Smithsonian Museums-DC
  • Toured Ancient City of Petra, Jordan
  • Transited Suez Canal
  • Rio for Carnivale 2X
  • Cruised along Cinque Terre, Italy
  • Fish Spa in Corfu, Greece (teeny fish scrubbed my feet!)
  • Subway in Russia
  • Flash Mob (dance) on stage on several cruises
  • Visted 21 Countries on 5 long cruises in 2012
  • Ceviche in Peru
  • Cremation Service in Bali
  • Saw Lamas in Lima
  • Vasa Museum-Stockholm
  • Buddhist Monastery in Viet Nam
  • Drove Amalfi Coast
  • Queen Mary 2
  • Berlin Wall
  • Mummies In Cairo Museum
  • Jordan River; Sea of Galilee
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Luxor at Sunrise
  • Transited the Pirate-Infested Gulf of Aden
  • Ski Dubai
  • Fellucca Ride on the Nile at Sunset
  • 16-day Europe/Transatlantic on Queen Victoria
  • Tahrir Square-Cairo
  • Toured Pompeii
  • In Fashion Show Aboard Queen Victoria
  • Rode Elephants in Thailand and India
  • 7-Country Baltic Cruise
  • Hermitage Museum
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Transatlantic Crossing on QM2
  • Climbed Tikal in Guatemala
  • Mediterranean Cruise 6 countries
  • Audience with Swami in Rishikesh, India
  • Poetry Class in France
  • Kissed Blarney Stone
  • Pike's Fish Market in Seattle
  • Photo with Snake Charmer in India
  • Dacau near Munich
  • Hitchhiked from France to Scotland
  • Climbed Washington Monument in DC
  • Oktoberfest in Bavaria
  • Toured Panama Canal
  • Wine Country in France, California and many others
  • Guest of Placido Domingo in Chicago
  • The Alamo
  • United Nations
  • San Diego Zoo
  • Helicopter over Grand Canyon
  • Club Med in Cancun
  • Eurailpassed Twice Thru Europe
  • Hollywood
  • Albuquerque Hot-Air Balloon Festival
  • Rodeo in Dallas/Ft Worth
  • NCAA Playoffs in Charlotte and New Orleans
  • Cucchi Tunnels in Viet Nam
  • Grammys in New York
  • Paella in Spain
  • Rain Forest in Costa Rica
  • Xmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on 5th Avenue
  • Niagara Falls
  • Disney Land & Disney World
  • Voodoo Museum New Orleans
  • Cancun Jazz Festival
  • Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica
  • Las Vegas for Trade Shows
  • Key West for Hemmingway Festival
  • Art Classes in Louvre
  • Black Ski Summit in Vail and Colorado Springs
  • Texas State Fair
  • Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  • Italian Class in France
  • Nude Sunbathing in St Marteen
  • Danish Pastry in Denmark
  • Palace of Knossos Crete
  • Anne Frank House Amsterdam
  • Karaoke in Japan
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Lobster in Maine