Some observations about the place that aren’t so surprising:

1. Everyone in Reykjavik is very young. This isn’t surprising because one is always amazed at the youth of people in European cities (where they actually go out and DO things: “Look ma, a yoof!”).

2. It smells surprisingly strongly at times of sulfur, as it does elsewhere smell of the sea when the wind is right. This isn’t surprising, just something I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about before I came. Also, the airport (at the end of a peninsula) smelled strongly of the sea (in a good, cool, salty way). Again, this isn’t surprising, just something I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about before I came. It was a lovely smell though, after all that time on planes and in airports.

3. People are very thin and healthy. Scandinavia in general but Reykjavik in particular might be the last place left in the western world where I haven’t seen a single fat person.

Observations about Iceland that are surprising:

1. There are babies EVERYWHERE. Sure we’re the only ones stupid enough to travel with a small child, but tiny babies in proper prams, with those little sock-cozies, are everywhere.

2. It’s surprisingly dry. My hair looked FANTASTIC.

3. You can still buy toy guns that look like guns.

Why did we go? Well, we haven’t been anywhere international since our honeymoon (Canada doesn’t count), and I was getting severe wanderlust and depression about getting old and dying before I’ve seen any of the world (Facebook, man, is the devil. Ooh look at all your unmarried friends frittering away their reproductive years by taking yet another trip to some far-flung land!)

The thing holding us back, obviously, besides vacation days from work (pesky work) was The Child. So we decided to stress test her by taking her somewhere across many time zones, and Iceland is on GMT, so it’s like going to the UK, but it’s only seven hours away from Seattle. So we just had to get on a short flight to Seattle and then, if she freaked out, we’d only be trapped in a tin can at 39,000 feet with a screaming four-year-old for 7 hours, instead of 10 or more!

Plus, it’s Scandinavian, and I wanted to go somewhere in Scandinavia (tak, tak), and closer than Copenhagen (see above).

As well as, I’d never seen this:

Northern Lights

So, why should you go? And why go in November?

1. The northern lights!

2. The food is amazing. It’s so nice being somewhere where people care about food.

3. The hot springs!

4. There’s nobody else there! Except other people who are interested in being there.

5. Reykjavik is such a nice town. It’s so small, and walkable, and attractive, and well-taken-care of, and lived in, and there are so many interesting places in it.

6. The most amazing geographical features are all within an hour and a half drive from your very nice urban hotel.

7. Icelandic ponies.

8. Sheep!

9. And, well, it’s a gorgeous country. Where everyone speaks perfect English (except one youngish dude at the check-out lane at a large Target-type store who obviously preferred to point at things but was perfectly cheerful doing so) and you don’t even need to get any cash out when you arrive. Even the public toilets at the national park we stopped at, which cost all of $1.65 to use, took credit cards to get through either of its two turnstiles.

10. Because it’s cool. And goodbye is “bless bless!” which is just adorable.