Crazy summer. My wife and I jetted off to Reykjavik, Iceland in early July. We stayed at a hotel just north of the lake Tjornin and spent about 3 days walking around exploring. It’s a wonderful city for walking. There’s much to see and you can get to almost everything you would want to go to on foot. We went to a great concert of Icelandic music at the Harpa, a fantastically beautiful building that serves as Reykjavik’s music-and-arts and conference center.

Heidi had a conference in Vienna she had to present a paper at, so we flew from Reykjavik to Vienna. First time in Vienna for me, a fascinating and beautiful city. Heidi delivered her paper at the conference at Sigmund Freud University, and we spent another three days wandering around Vienna sightseeing. Then we flew back to Reykjavik! Yes, I know, crazy. We joined up with a tour of Iceland produced by Odysseys Unlimited, and led by a most amazing tour guide who goes by the nickname Gugga (her real Icelandic name is probably unpronounceable by most Americans). The tour took us all over the country and we saw a lot of incredibly beautiful places. The country of Iceland, when you look at it on a map. seems very small. But the strange thing is that when you are out there traveling around in it, it seems overwhelmingly vast, because most of the country is actually uninhabited wilderness. Being there you really get a sense of the vast, raw power of nature. I was awed just to be riding around in the tour coach through such a marvelous country and watching it through the windows. Eventually the tour ended up back in Reykjavik, a city my wife and I had become very fond of. We spent a couple more days enjoying Reykjavik and flew home.

My impressions of Iceland: a peaceful and harmonious country with a population of amazingly congenial and friendly people. It’s a country with a humane and liberal and highly literate culture. Art, music and literature thrive there. Almost everyone there speaks English in addition to the native Icelandic. All the food there is excellent, especially the seafood and the lamb. The beer and vodka are also top-notch. For some reason licorice is very popular there and the Icelanders enjoy a strange but delicious treat called lakkris, which is chocolate covered licorice. I wish we had it in the USA. I became very fond of this wonderful country and hope I can get back there again sometime.

I’m grateful that we had the opportunity to visit Iceland, but I also started to have some misgivings about my role as a tourist there. Iceland has benefited economically from the great tourist boom they’ve experienced in recent years but at the same time the explosive growth in tourism presents problems for the country. The sheer volume of tourists coming into the country is starting to strain the capacity of Iceland to absorb them. I’m hoping that Iceland will not be ruined by overcrowding caused by the huge influx of tourists. I know that a great deal of attention is being devoted to this issue by the Icelandic government. I hope they can find ways to make it work to everyone’s benefit.
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