In no particular order…
Hot water in abundance
I could live in my shower. Seriously, if I didn’t have sensitive skin and there were more hours in the day, I would probably shower three times a day. I love being able to take long hot showers whenever I want to without having to worry about the water bill. The hot water in Reykjavík is not free but it’s not particularly expensive either and I sure do take advantage of that.
Also, even though I don’t visit them nearly as often as I should, the hot water also gives us all those lovely swimming pools that everyone who has ever visited Reykjavík raves about. There’s nothing better on a cold still day than going to the pool for a few laps and a dip into the hot pots.
Never running out of conversation topics
Have you ever heard about the expression If you don’t like the weather in Iceland just wait five minutes? It may be a cliche but it’s not far from the truth. I think because we were once all farmers and fishermen dependent on the weather, and because the weather here is so unpredictable, we are kind of obsessed with it. People all over the world love talking about the weather but I’ve never experienced it being such a big part of the daily conversation as here. So if you are lost for words, try commenting on the weather and see if you can’t get a conversation going.
If the weather fails you, which it rarely does, you can always try asking the person you’re talking to where they are from and where they went to school and it’s pretty certain that you have at least 20 people in common, 5 of which are your cousins or not so distant relatives.
The relentless optimism of the people of Reykjavík
Like the two items above, this could actually be applied to Iceland as a whole. If you see a red number on the thermometer and a hint of sun (see, the weather again) you will see people in t-shirts and shorts out and about enjoying the “nice” weather. We even built our own geothermal beach so we can prance around in a bikini and dip our toes into the preheated sea and pretend we live somewhere warmer.
You will also notice that every other person you meet in Reykjavík is just about to conquer the world with their music, their innovation, their fantastic business sense or creativity. People just kind of jump into things and hope for the best and quite often it just somehow magically works out. Just look at the recent success of Of Monsters And Men for example - they outsold Madonna when their album came out in The States. However, many adventures fail too. Since I started this blog less then a year ago, three of the businesses I’ve written about have closed shop.
Having mountains and the sea all around
Reykjavík is surrounded by mountains and the sea and they somehow become a part of who you are. I lived inland in both Spain and England at one point and cannot tell you how much I missed the mountains and the sea. Having them there reminds me how small and insignificant I am against Mother Nature and is a constant source of inspiration.
The organized chaos in the city’s architecture
Reykjavík doesn’t have a lot of grand buildings or ancient masterpieces but it makes up for it with multicolored houses and little streets that make no sense. Having lived in places like the UK where whole neighborhoods all look the same, I really appreciate the individuality of homes in Reykjavík. If you fancy painting your house neon green no one is going to stop you and if you and your next door neighbor disagree on color choices for your house – you just pay your half of the house in one color and your neighbor their part in another. Problem solved.