Why would anyone want to go to Iceland?
After hearing Harry and Joyce Johnson talk about their June 2012 trip, a better question might be why wouldn't they?
This past Monday afternoon the Johnsons shared their experiences in the land of fire and ice as part of the travel series at the Redwood Falls Public Library.
"Twenty years ago we said it would be fun to visit Iceland one day," said Harry, adding the discussion became much more serious in recent years.
Those more serious discussions led to added research and planning, which led to them boarding a plane in Minneapolis on a direct flight to Keflavik International Airport.
"It was a six hour flight," said Joyce. "It really was not bad."
Iceland, which is in the Arctic Circle, is an island Harry said surprisingly enough is 50 percent desert, 11 percent glaciers and 1 percent populated areas. The population of the entire country is 325,000, with its capital city Reykjavik making up 120,000 of that number.
Harry said when traveling around Iceland one does not encounter a lot of people, adding at many of the stops they made they were the only ones there.
Joyce said the couple made their trip through a travel agency which booked their flights, got them a car and scheduled their hotel stays.
The rest was up to them.
The couple traveled the entire island during the nine days they were in Iceland along what is known as the Ring Road.
The Ring Road, explained Harry, traverses the entire circumference of the island – approximately 900 miles – which allows those wandering along it to find the main sites to visit on the island.
Harry said after driving from the Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik the couple spent some time seeing what the capital city had to offer for visitors.
"Reykjavik is a very modern city," said Harry, adding much of the main business area of the city is made up of art studios and similar kinds of shops.
The buildings in Iceland are quite colorful, which Harry believed might be done to help overcome a gloomy climate.
Joyce mentioned Iceland does not have a military, nor does it have any prisons, adding criminals are either rehabilitated or sent out of the country.
The couple saw a number of natural scenes they described as breathtakingly beautiful from fjords with deep, sparkling blue water to the tongues of glaciers.
"The water is clear, cold and beautiful," said Joyce.
The people of Iceland are very proud of their heritage, explained Joyce, saying the sagas of the country are taught to the children.
Naturally, there are some legends in the country, and trolls play a big part of the tales of Iceland.
Page 2 of 2 - Trolls also play a part in the tourism, with stores using them as a way to bring in customers.
When people first arrived in Iceland they began constructing buildings using whatever material was available from existing trees to sod. The use of trees for buildings coupled with the use of that wood for ships left the country's landscape bare. Trees which were nearly all cut down are now beginning to appear again.
Historic stops showed the Johnsons how Iceland's people used to live from using fish skins to create everyday products, such as shoes, to the prevalence of sheep as a major part of the economy.
The food, said Joyce, was delicious, albeit expensive, adding you need to bring your wallet filled with money when visiting Iceland.
The couple visited what is known as the Golden Circle as their trip neared its end, which includes Skogafass Falls, which is one of the country's most famous tourist stops, geysers and the place where its first parliament was held.
Both Harry and Joyce loved their trip and encouraged everyone to visit Iceland in their lifetime.