Iceland is a Nordic island country of Europe in the North Atlantic Ocean and is the world’s 18th largest island. It’s rich in literature, arts and music against a background of fjords, glaciers, waterfalls and the northern lights.
Iceland is an isolated country and its language has stayed pure and close to its roots; it’s the closest you can get to Old Norse spoken by the Vikings.
We’ll hear the Icelandic tourism campaign dubbed the world’s hardest Karaoke song.
And with only a few hours of daylight during winter in Iceland, we speak to Professor Leon Lack about Seasonal Affective Disorder, and grab his tips for fighting jet lag.
Want to know more about iceland? Head to our Stories section to delve a little deeper.
02:09 World’s Hardest Karaoke Song
04:55 Phil’s Quiz Question
05:18 Ewan Callan Manager of Iceland’s What’s on Tourist Information on street art, music and tourism in Iceland
“Iceland's not been overrun with tourists. Not at all. There just weren't many tourists at all, say even 10 years ago, and tourism is a big part of the economy now” – Ewan Callan
11:25 Iceland’s Ingo Bjardmunsson won the World Nomads photography scholarship to Peru three years ago
17:38 Checking in with World Nomads
18:20 Five Take Flight – The family that sold their house to travel the world
“When we decided to do this, we reached out on social media through a video asking for help, a travel nanny to come along to help with the boys' schooling. It ended up going viral. We ended up getting 24,000 applications for different people wanting to travel with us for the year.” – Kenzie Tillotson Five Take Flight
28:26 Ask Phil: What happened to the forests on Iceland?
31:35 How to beat jet lag
38:55 Travel News – The demise of Robert Mugabe, The Devil's Pool at Victoria Falls. Plus how World Nomads Insurance helps when your flight is delayed
43:10 What’s next in Episode 5
Ewan Callan is the Manager of Iceland’s What's on Tourist Information – we chat street art the music scene and the social policy its believed helped Iceland make the World Cup.
Iceland’s Ingo Bjardmunsson who won the World Nomads photography scholarship to Peru three years ago. Phil went along with Ingo on that assignment and here they chat about that experience along with some of the places to capture great pics in Iceland.
Kenzie Tillotson from Five Take Flight a family that sold their house to travel the world – first stop Iceland with their Icelandic Nanny.
Here is the canyon that Alexandra recommended Fjaðrárgljúfur
Download our newly released Insider's Guide to Iceland
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Explore your boundaries and discover your next adventure with The World Nomads Podcast. Hosted by Podcast Producer Kim Napier and World Nomads Phil Sylvester, each episode will take you around the world with insights into destinations from travelers and experts. They’ll share the latest in travel news, answer your travel questions and fill you in on what World Nomads is up to, including the latest scholarships and guides.
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Narrator: The World Nomads podcast, it's not your usual travel podcast. It's everything for the adventurous, independent traveler.
Kim: Thanks again for tuning into our podcast, delivered by World Nomads, the travel lifestyle and insurance brand covering more than half a million travelers. I'm Kim, and the man sitting across from me is Phil who's kept our listeners waiting two weeks for the answer to his travel quiz question. Phil?
Phil: Yes, sorry, we got a bit carried with episode three on Panama, dancing to Jimmy Bad Boy, and I think we just [00:00:30] forgot, didn't we?
Phil: A reminder of the question: there are seven central American nations, of those seven how many have just one coastline? The answer, not waiting till the end of the show, the answer's two. It's Belize and El Salvador. I hope you all feel much better now knowing that, that you can breathe easy now, right?
Kim: Yeah, I could hear travel podcast fans taking a collective sigh of relief. Now we will make sure we get your quiz question for this episode shortly and the answer by the end of it. But we're about to take a journey to Iceland.
Phil: [00:01:00] Yeah, look, I think we all know where Iceland is, I think it's on everybody's bucket list at the moment, isn't it? It's absolutely rich in literature, arts and music, and of course it's got that amazing backdrop of all the fields and the glaciers and the waterfalls and the Northern Lights.
It's remaining a very isolated country, it's not actually ... well, it's getting easier but it's been very difficult to get there for a quite a while so the language has stayed very pure and close to its roots. And apparently, it's the closest you can get to Old Norse. [00:01:30] Today, mostly English is spoken but it's always nice to be able to say place names properly and good to be armed with some simple phrases, isn't it?
Kim: Yeah. That's why we've been dreading the aspect of exploring this beautiful country. In fact, an Icelandic tourism group called Inspired by Iceland even launched a campaign to help travelers called the a to ö of Iceland. Now it refers to the 32 letter Icelandic alphabet, of course we have 26. The song is performed by an Icelandic [00:02:00] comedian and it aims to encourage travelers to learn the Icelandic equivalent of an a to "zed" or a to z guide. So take a listen.
Steindi : This is the a to ö of Iceland, so try to sing along. This is the a to ö of Iceland, what could possibly go [00:02:30] wrong? Our sundlaugar are cosy.
Kim: ... are cozy. Oh, he's naked!
Steindi : Afklæðast all the way. But don't forget to sundskýla before you go and play.
Phil: ...before you go and play.
Steindi : You might see a torfbær.
Phil: ...you might see a torfbær or hike through ... I can't say that.
Steindi : Or hike in the þjóðgarð.
And you must say hi to Villi
Kim: ... Villi, because that is my dad!
Steindi : Because that is my dad! Pabbi!
Steindi : And you can rent a bílaleigubíll.
Kim: ...bílaleigubíll ...
Phil: Bílaleigubíll ... I said that right, [00:03:00] I think.
Steindi : Enjoy the drive on hringvegurinn.
Since the upphaf alda. The sheep has been around.
Kim: ... since the sheep has been around.
Steindi : Vinaleg and gracious,
Kim: Every man's best friend.
Steindi : Every man's best friend. And they’ve always kept us… Full!
Phil: And they've always kept us full!
Steindi : This is the a to ö of Iceland, so try to sing along. This is the a to ö of Iceland, what could possibly go wrong?
Phil: Ah, [00:03:30] that's gotta be the hardest karaoke song in the world, isn't it?
Kim: "It's the a to ö of Iceland", I won't be able to get that out of my mind.
Phil: Look, I was thinking, even when I'm doing French accents, I try to pretend that I'm Inspector Clouseau and you get it right. So I am doing my best Icelandic voice.
Kim: You are a lot better than me. Look, one of our guests mentioned [inaudible 00:03:53] spot in Iceland during this podcast and I get Phil to test the pronunciation with another of our guests and [00:04:00] trust me, you'll enjoy the outcome. So, let's have a look at who is on the podcast about Iceland.
Phil: Do you want me to help you there.
Kim: Yeah, yeah, would you mind? I practiced this!
Phil: Ingo Bjardmunsson. Ingo, how are you mate?
Kim: Beautiful. Ingo is an Icelandic man, obviously. And won the World Nomad's photography scholarship to Peru. You and [inaudible 00:04:24], manager of Iceland's What's On Tourist Information, we chat about music, street art and Iceland making the world [00:04:30] cup for the first time, awesome.
Kenzie Tillotson from Five Take Flight, now they are a family that sold their house to travel to destinations around the world ... I'm not sure how many they'll fit in within their 12 month period. But first up was Iceland with their Icelandic nanny. And we check in with Professor Leon Lack on seasonal affective disorder and some tips to beat jet lag. Plus we've got Phil's travel news, ask Phil and Phil's quiz question.
Phil: Tell me, Kim, when you think of Iceland, you picture barren, wind-swept [00:05:00] plains, right?
Phil: But once, Iceland was covered in forests, about 40% of it was wood.
Phil: Seriously. So my quiz question is, today, what happened to the forests, where'd they all go? All will be revealed, I promise, at the end of this show.
Phil: Or maybe not, depends how we feel.
Kim: Ewan [inaudible 00:05:19] is the manager of Iceland's What's On Tourist Information. Now we chat street art, which I absolutely love. So I was thrilled to find during the researching of Iceland that it's filled with it. The [00:05:30] music scene and ... I had to kick off though with the language and ask how travelers cope.
Ewan: How do travelers cope with the language? Well, the one thing about Iceland is that if you've ever met an Icelandic person who didn't speak excellent English then I'd be very surprised. Everybody in Iceland speaks English. So with regards to the language, I think the only problem that people have is with the road signs, you know? In reality. But it's a very difficult language.
Kim: Well, we'll put that to the test, actually, later in the podcast with Phil. But, Ewan, when I was researching Iceland, [00:06:00] I was really super surprised to find it has a large street art scene. Look, I knew about Iceland's music culture but not the street art scene.
Ewan: Okay, basically, of course, we always have to remember that Iceland's a population of 330,000 approximately. And two thirds of those are living in Reykjavik, which is the one and only city. So it's almost like you have the wilderness and we stuck a city in the southwest corner. Here in this city, if you walk down the main street, and really, the downtown is super small, you might [00:06:30] see a lot of tagging and stuff which may give the impression there's a lot of ... you know, a relative amount of graffiti, yeah?
But also on top of that, there's a lot of street art, like you say. And if you talk to the guys who are doing the street art today, they will tell you, they were the kids that were tagging 10 years ago. And usually, it's not a lot of kids that are doing it. But there are some international people that come here, I know there's a couple of really big black and whites that have been done by an Australian street artist [00:07:00] and ... yeah, downtown Reykjavik today, it's used also as a means of art by pretty much all walks of life up to the city council.
And also, for example, on the side of the house we have, there's an alley with a little bit of graffiti and eventually, you will get some street artist to do something cool. Because of course, once you put street art up, or call it what you will, nobody else will touch it. You know? They'll leave it alone out of respect, etc.
Ewan: [00:07:30] So yeah, there's a lot of street art and it's quite common that people are asking about where it is, etc. We have to write an up to date blog, an article ... because literally ... it's quite popular. People asking about it.
Basically, Iceland punches way above its weight with regards to music. Bjork is almost like ... you know, she's old school now. She's been around for so long. And Sigur Rós and these sort of bands. Of course, there's a big music festival here called [00:08:00] Iceland Airwaves. And there, there's a lot of young, up and coming bands play there. But, yeah ... I would say the Icelandic music scene's incredibly healthy and does very well. But it's almost like ... it's the same thing, like the Icelandic soccer team, football team, going to the World Cup. There's a couple of things, definitely, where Iceland punches above its weight.
Kim: Just on Iceland making the World Cup, a policy that was introduced to curb smoking and drinking among teenagers is actually being credited with helping Iceland achieve the spot. [00:08:30] Now, under 16s have a curfew, they play sport for times a week at least, they're given money to put towards sport and sporting equipment. So I was keen to find out from you and Phil just how progressive Iceland is socially and, indeed, politically.
Ewan: Is it progressive? I would say it's organic. Yeah. I mean, in Iceland, if you're talking about politics and things it's very see through. There are no ... there are only glass walls. You know, there's no walls ... everybody knows everybody, and [00:09:00] the politics is very ... it's very kind of a communal thing because everybody knows the people who are the politicians, etc. As for being progressive, Iceland has the same problems as everywhere else. Maybe we just talk them through better than some others sometimes.
With regards to this policy you're talking about, the use policy, etc., the thing about the Icelandic society ... if you take the UK for example in the 60s and 70s, and it's probably the same for Australia, people your parents' age, whatever, [00:09:30] they would talk about how it was all about family values. Well here in Iceland, it's all about family values still.
And the kids, if you go to a party, for example, if you and I go to a party, the most boring question you ask of somebody you don't know is what they do for a job. But here in Iceland if we ask that the second thing we ask is what your kids do. And by that we mean what sports do they do. Because all the kids are doing sports, etc.
Kim: Now Phil ... we'll be told in this episode that Iceland is one of those countries being [00:10:00] overrun by tourists. And you've read that and heard that too, haven't you?
Phil: Yeah, absolutely, spoke to some people about it the other day, yeah.
Kim: Yep, well not according to Ewan.
Ewan: I'm originally from Scotland. But my lady wife is Icelandic, but I've lived here for 16 years. Iceland's not being overrun with tourists. Not at all. There just weren't many tourists at all, so even 10 years ago, if you ... tourism is a big part of the economy now. But it's not been overrun by tourists.
It depends [00:10:30] where you go, if you want to see tourists, you will see tourists. But in relation to other things, like if you talk about being somewhere like the Grand Canyon in the United States or Ayers Rock in Australia, and the number of tourists you might see there on any given day, it's nothing like that here.
Kim: Okay. Well finally, why should we visit Iceland? Ewan?
Ewan: It's a fantastic country. Definitely come here. Ignore anything you read about there being too many tourists because that's just kind of ... a popular [00:11:00] thing to write today about Iceland. If you wanna get ... it's very, very easy to access the wilderness and see a lot of things in the space of say, five days. And you can drive around the country, the whole country, around the coast comfortably in one week. Which is a fantastic trip.
Kim: Thanks for that Ewan, and there will be links to Ewan's website in show notes. I'm going to try it. Ingo Bjargmundsson. [00:11:30] No? It's a bit German?
Phil: " Bjardmunsson ".
Kim: Okay, well, he's Icelandic and won the World Nomads photography scholarship to Peru three years ago now, Phil, lucky man, you went along with Ingo and in this chat you talk about that experience along with some of the places to capture and great pics in Iceland.
Phil: Ingo Bjargmundsson, the ice man! Welcome, great to talk to you, mate.
Ingo: Thank you, thank you, it's nice to hear from you. It's been too long.
Phil: Been too long, mate. Look, and speaking of that, because [00:12:00] you know, you and I were in Peru together because you won the World Nomads photography scholarship that year, and ... what did you think? I mean, a man from Iceland going to Peru. What were you expecting and was it like what you thought it would be?
Ingo: I mean, it was fantastic. It was ... it's very different, very different from Iceland. I mean I loved it.
Phil: Okay, well look, on the trip, first of all, we went [00:12:30] around Cusco and the Sacred Valley and into the Amazon Basin where, seriously mate, I thought we were going to melt you.
Ingo: Yeah, it was pretty hot. And I remember we took a walk, a two-hour walk up a hill.
Phil: Oh, where they were collecting Brazil nuts, yeah.
Ingo: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, the Brazil nuts. And that was pretty tough. I think it's one of the hottest days there. And when we came back [00:13:00] down I was feeling a bit woozy, I didn't drink as much water as I should've done, but yeah, that was the toughest day.
Phil: I'm having a guess here, but I think you probably enjoyed the experience around ... especially taking photographs around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Am I right there? That was your favorite bit?
Ingo: Definitely, yeah. I think ... I mean, I have the gear for that, at least. But the Amazon is a bit tougher. You have to have ... [00:13:30] well, more expensive gear. You have to have a good telephoto lens and a ... good micro-lenses. And I really didn't have that.
Phil: When we were in the Sacred Valley, and we went up to the Amaru community up there, and the Pachamama Ceremony. Now I know there's a kind of a spirituality about Iceland as well, with Charles and what have you, the Pachamama Ceremony ... did that strike a chord with you?
Ingo: Yeah, [00:14:00] I mean, these are people who are trying to actually keep alive their traditions. And they're changing a lot, there is more tourism there like here in Iceland. And I think it's well worth preserving all those old traditions.
Phil: I'm going to put a photograph on the show notes of you and I, we are in traditional Andean costume, Peruvian costume and tucking into a bit of guinea pig.
Ingo: Yeah, [00:14:30] that was different! But I mean, I'm used to eating strange things like, we eat sheep heads, yeah, and we eat the testicles and I mean, the whole sheep is basically eaten here. And I mean, I like this kind of food. But the younger generation isn't as much into it as I am. And the guinea pig, I mean it was okay.
Phil: Okay. We're talking [00:15:00] about the ... you know, you love your traditional Icelandic food and you're saying to me some of those traditions are in danger of being lost in your homeland in Iceland, is that right? I mean, I was reading the other day, something like two million visitors came to Iceland last year.
Ingo: Yeah, it's been crazy the past ... yeah, let's say, the past seven, eight years. I mean, it's growing too fast I think.
Phil: And they're all crowding into the same spots to take those same photographs, I [00:15:30] imagine. I mean, we are friends on Facebook and so I see you still take some beautiful photographs around Iceland, but ... is that getting harder and harder to find the desolation?
Ingo: Yeah, definitely, yes. It is. But still there are some places like up north, and the west hills that are still less crowded.
Phil: Where are some of the places where you go to go and get those fabulous shots you have?
Ingo: I didn't realize how lucky I am ... I went to [00:16:00] the Grand Canyon this summer, and they don't have one waterfall there. I mean, it was ... a revelation for me, we have thousands of them.
Phil: There's a series of very famous waterfalls on the south coast. What are they called? What's the proper name for them?
Ingo: If you take the south coast, the first waterfall, the big one, is probably Seljalandsfoss, and then [00:16:30] when you head longer along the coast you will have Skógafoss, and then you have the Glacier Lagoon and that's Jökulsárlón, up north, if you want to go be more by yourself, then I would recommend areas around Akureyri.
Phil: There's a canyon, and I think it is ... okay, I'm going to embarrass myself, now, alright? [inaudible 00:16:57]?
Phil: [00:17:00] No? No, I've got it completely wrong, right?
Ingo: Not ... it's not ringing any bells.
Phil: Oh, okay. Fair enough. I've probably made it up. Ingo, fantastic to talk to you mate, and great to see that you're still taking photos. I hope that the photography scholarship that you won was something that you remember fondly and helps you with your photography?
Ingo: Yeah, it definitely did. I mean, it was tough. But it was a great experience, I would highly recommend [00:17:30] it.
Speaker 1: That's awesome to hear, Ingo. And by the way, the next World Nomads photography scholarship opens August 2018. Now it's time, as we do in each episode, to check in with our world nomads.
Speaker 15: I started traveling, I was like a very young [inaudible 00:17:44] in Brazil. And then I come to Australia, my first country ... I want to keep being traveling.
Speaker 7: I love meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and seeing new things. Just ... it's incredible.
Speaker 8: Do it! If you have the opportunity and financial, you know, [00:18:00] stability ... why not?
Speaker 9: It's humbling.
Speaker 10: Drop everything, spend six months or a year and travel around, see if it's for you.
Speaker 9: You learn to just be more rounded as a person when you go and travel. If there's anything I could tell you to do is to just go see the world while you can in one lifetime, yeah.
Kim: Now, do you like the idea, and I've got to tell you I do, of taking off and touring the world?
Phil: Absolutely. It's like, I always want to do it, it's like, just how do you get it organized. I know, you pull [00:18:30] your finger out and do it.
Kim: You just do it, you absolutely do it. With kids or not. And we're talking about a family that did exactly that, including visiting Iceland. Kenzie Tillotson and her family have bitten the bullet, pulled their finger out, as you say, Phil. And they did it. Let's find out more.
Kenzie: We are a family of five, and we sold our house to travel the world for a year. It's me, my husband, and we have three kids. Porter is 6, Beckett is 4, and Wren is [00:19:00] 1. And when we decided to do this, we reached out on social media through a video asking for help. A travel nanny to come along to help with the boys' schooling. It ended up going viral. So we ended up getting 24,000 applications. So we ended up picking a gal named Alexandra. And she is with us, and traveling with us, and she's here!
Kim: Hi Alexandra. I'm looking forward to chatting with you because of course this podcast is about Iceland and you're [00:19:30] from Iceland!
Alexandra: Yes, I am!
Kim: Is this like the perfect job?
Alexandra: Yeah. For sure, this is my dream job. Dreams do come true.
Kim: Kenzie, is it the perfect life? A year on the road with three children. What are some of the pros and cons of this adventure?
Kenzie: I would say it's the perfect life for me. But I would say it's not for everybody. The pros of traveling with kids ... it forces you to slow down. For example, we went to [00:20:00] the Milan Cathedral. I'm trying to show them this cathedral. That's all I'm trying to show them. The architecture, I'm trying to show them the different styles, they had zero interest. All they want to do is go feed the pigeons that are in front of the cathedral.
Kim: So by opening the world to your children and those simple things, what kind of adults are you hoping to raise?
Kenzie: Individuals who ... a really accepting outlook on different cultures and beliefs. [00:20:30] We don't want them to be close-minded in any way, because in this digital world, everything is shrinking. And we want people, especially our children, to have tolerance for all different ways of life. And to realize that there are a lot of different ways to live and be happy. There's not just this one way to be to be happy. There's not just this one country to live in to be happy.
We want them to realize that there are a lot of great people in the world, and they come from very diverse backgrounds [00:21:00] and most of the time you won't be able to relate or understand, but it doesn't make it any less valuable.
Kim: What are your tips to not just families but, you know, even couples that think it's too hard to do? To pick up and explore the world. What would you say?
Kenzie: I would say it is a daunting task. And instead of listing reasons why you shouldn't, I would list reasons why you should. That's what we did.
Kim: And what's the end goal? I can't imagine you back home putting [00:21:30] the trash out?
Kenzie: The end goal ... traveling is a big dream for us, but the end goal, the most important thing to me is to have a healthy and happy family, honestly.
Kim: There are so many questions and we could probably be here for a couple of hours. I'd like to ask about packing. How do you go about carrying all that stuff? And you're laughing, so is it a bit of an issue?
Kenzie: Oh my word, [00:22:00] we're laughing because packing and unpacking is tiring. And so what I tell myself in my mind is, I don't have to clean a house. I don't have to scrub a floor, I don't have to do this, my chores are packing and unpacking. But it's also a joke because we try and have this competition between us on who has the lightest bag. So my husband's bag is always overweight. Always overweight. And we are always looking [00:22:30] at each other saying, "what is in there?" Like, why is his bag so heavy? So we always have these ongoing little ...
Kenzie: ... jokes, of packing and unpacking, and ...
Kim: Well there is a section of packing on your website which we will share in the show notes, plus videos. And the countries that you've visited. We're doing this podcast on Iceland. So, because of Alex, is that the reason why you visited?
Kenzie: So when we decided to do this trip, I wanted to start out with the shortest flight [00:23:00] as possible to break the kids into long flights. So we went from New York and then we thought, what's the shortest flight out of New York? And it was Iceland. It was a four-hour flight. So we thought, let's go to Iceland. And then from there, we can jump into Scandinavia, which is only ... to Finland it was another couple hours. And so that was my initial motivation. But also, we had done some research previously and we had always [00:23:30] wanted to go to Iceland. We didn't necessarily think we would do it with our children. But we had always dreamt of going there for the hiking because we're into the outdoors.
Kim: Iceland, I wouldn't have thought of it as a place that would have great hiking.
Alexandra: Oh, no definitely, yeah. We've got loads of great hiking. It's ... there's a lot of mountains in Iceland. And ... it's the land of fire and ice. We've got volcanoes and glaciers and ice, so it's got a diverse landscape.
Kim: This is a thorny topic for the podcast on [00:24:00] Iceland. Have you got any advice for travelers on dealing with the language, you know? Even in researching this, I'm thinking, I can't talk to anyone! I don't know how to say anything.
Alexandra: Yeah, Kenzie kind of [inaudible 00:24:14]
Kenzie: Oh, my word.
Kim: What are the tips? I mean, it seems to be an incredibly difficult language to read.
Alexandra: Oh, it is. And I would say don't be hard on yourself, you know. Because any Icelander knows how difficult it is, and [00:24:30] you know, I was telling Kenzie and Derek, you know, every single noun in Iceland has about eight different forms, right? So just the single word like, horse? It's different depending on where in the sentence it is. My name, it changes in Icelandic, right? So depending on what ... so if you're saying to Alexandra, you say, [Icelandic 00:24:50]. Like it's a completely different way. So it's such a complicated language that no one can be expected to know anything. Just know [Icelandic 00:25:00] which [00:25:00] means thank you.
Kim: For a traveler, can you recommend some of those things that, if you picked up a brochure, you would never see. But you would say, as somebody that grew up there, that you've got to see this, or experience this, or do this?
Alexandra: So, it's tough. Because a lot of Iceland has ... because obviously, Iceland has had a huge increase in tourism, right? So I feel a lot of these unexplored, hidden gems have been exposed. I mean, personally, the only one I can think of that isn't talked about [00:25:30] is (inaudible) which is on the way to the Glacier Lagoon and I don't think everyone goes there.
Kim: Okay. Let's just stop there. How did Alex pronounce that name?
Alexandra: [inaudible 00:25:41]
Kim: Now, Phil?
Phil: [inaudible 00:25:43]
Alexandra: [inaudible 00:25:48]
Phil: [inaudible 00:25:50]
Kim: No. A massive fail.
Phil: But that's what it was spelled like!
Kim: Look, I do feel like I've stitched you up. Other than saying Ingo's name, I've pretty [00:26:00] much escaped with that ...
Phil: Yeah, we've avoided everything.
Kim: I know, three cheers for me. Let's pick up our chat with a recommendation from Alex on a great place to eat.
Alexandra: Called Glo. G-l-o. So this is what the locals normally go to because it's a healthy food at an affordable price tag.
Kim: Another box you've ticked is the fact that you can say it and spell it.
Kim: Kenzie, how did you find Iceland as a traveler?
Kenzie: It was really great because we were with our kids. [00:26:30] And Iceland has a lot of folklore and legends and stories, and our children love that aspect of it. They have a lot of myths about trolls that lived in the mountains and elves that lived in these different areas, and ... One thing my children also loved is they have 12 or 13 Santas.
Alexandra: 13, yeah.
Kenzie: 13. They have 13 Santas. And my kids thought that was the most fascinating thing. And these Santas are more like trolls. And some of them [00:27:00] eat children ... ! Like they had different stories, and so it was really fun to experience the childlike side, the folklore, and the myths of the country.
Kim: Alex, how's it going to be for you when this adventure finishes? Because you've got this family of five that you're really ... you'd be attached to. Incredibly attached to. You'd be like a family member.
Kim: When this adventure finishes, what will you go on to do? And how will you kind of detach yourself from living with the family 24/7?
Alexandra: [00:27:30] I think it's always hard, you know ... goodbyes are always hard. And I think because we were in such an intimate surrounding, we're always together, we're traveling together and having all these experiences, obviously I already feel very fond of the Tillotson family and I feel we've already gotten really close. So I can't imagine it'll be in a year's time. But I think that, you know, you've got to remember to live in the present. To enjoy the now.
Kim: Well thank you ladies for chatting. And Kenzie, if you could [00:28:00] just send through on e-mail the name of that spot Alex was talking about!
Kim: So we could put that in show notes too, that'd be fantastic!
Kenzie: I will do that for sure. That's why I said, I'm like, I want you on there just so you can pronounce all the places that I'm like, yeah, go see this waterfall, I can't tell you how to say it.
Kim: We will include a pronunciation guide in the show notes along with a link to Five Take Flight, great story. Now you may remember that trumpet fanfare that Phil used [00:28:30] in the podcast on Panama to introduce "ask Phil". It was terrible. Really, it was. In the nicest possible way. I've got a present for you, Phil, let's see if you like this.
Narrator: And now, ask Phil.
Phil: Oh, I like that much better. That's better than ... that's our narrator, that's our friend John.
Kim: Yep. We might meet him in the Christmas special.
Phil: Oh, good idea, let's get him on.
Kim: He's got a voice where you just want to ... can you keep talking?
Phil: I know, I know. And a really interesting man too.
Kim: Yep, okay.
Phil: And, here's [00:29:00] a question for everybody out there, just from hearing his narrator voice on the beginning of the show, where do you think he's from?
Kim: Oh, awesome quiz question!
Phil: There you go.
Kim: Yeah, alright. Ask Phil.
Phil: Okay. A really simple question, but one that's always on the lips of World Nomads, how do you save money? Daniel asked how to travel cheaply in Iceland. Where should I shop or go rent a car?
Good question Daniel! Because Iceland can be very expensive. Just the demand for accommodation makes it one of the most Airbnb destinations in the world. But help is at [00:29:30] hand from our community of nomads. What are they? Nomads.
Keith was one of the nomads that suggested stocking up on duty-free alcohol at Keflavík Airport on the way into Iceland. He said if you plan on drinking in Reykjavík bars, make sure to take advantage of each establishment's happy hours. Drinks will be half price compared to normal hours. There's a happy hour app available, as well as a free weekly newspaper in English that lists all the happy hours in town.
Kim: Great tip.
Phil: I like that one that's very good. Kurt chipped in with, " [00:30:00] not an inexpensive location. Car rentals are almost essential and they run much higher than the rest of Europe. Petrol or diesel fuel is expensive as you might expect to be on an island with no oil resources. Restaurants are ..." and then he's done a lot of dollar signs "for the most part unless you're willing to eat lots of hot dogs that are available at every service station, every fuel station."
Kim: Or sheep's testicles as Ingo was saying earlier.
Phil: Oh sheep's ... no. Okay. And Heather reminded us that many of the parks, hiking trails and waterfalls are actually free. There are no [00:30:30] park entry fees there. But sometimes, spending a few dollars is worth it, she said "the favorite spots to spend the money were the Blue Lagoon, about 35 US dollars, the Glacier Lagoon, riding the amphibian boat, about another 35 US dollars, and northern spot of the island to do the whale watching, about 90 US dollars per person. All worth it and awesome."
Chris, who sounds like a hardcore traveler suggested to save on lodgings, sleeping in your car or van is much cheaper than sleeping in hotels.
Kim: [00:31:00] Yeah, but how about the winter temperatures?
Phil: He goes, "be mindful, you can't just park your car anywhere. To be completely legal you need to park in specified campsites found in most villages. They typically cost 10-15 bucks per person per night. But, he says, language warning, "don't be an asshole! Icelanders have opened up their country for you to visit and it's disrespectful to just park your car wherever you want". That's true.
Look, if you have a question about a destination that you'd like to ask the community or think you could provide some answers to help others explore [00:31:30] their boundaries, go to answers.worldnomads.com and ask a nomad.
Kim: Well, due to the near Arctic latitude with just over four hours of sunlight at times over winter, Phil, I think it's pretty fair to ask, do Icelandic people suffer seasonal affective disorder? To you and I, that's that depressive feeling you get in the middle of winter.
Phil: Yep. When you're SAD.
Kim: We'll get a more articulate definition very shortly. A bit of Googling suggests strangely, that Icelandic people don't actually suffer from [00:32:00] seasonal affective disorder.
Kim: I know. We've turned to Professor Leon Lack, who teaches and conducts research in the areas of sleep, circadian rhythms, and insomnia. Leon, thanks for joining us.
Leon: Most welcome, Kim.
Kim: Well you're a better authority on this topic than Google. What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Leon: Well, it's been given a nice little acronym, called SAD, S-A-D. It ... really, the older term for it is winter depression. And it's been known for a long time, [00:32:30] but only studied more carefully fairly recently. It seems to come on in the mid to late autumn, depending on latitude again ... how far you are away from the equator. Comes on a little bit earlier if you're further away from the equator. And it is just a mild depression that sets in, a gloominess.
One of the contributors to Seasonal Affective Disorder is the decrease in the amount of ambient light in the environment. Particularly in the winter time ... [00:33:00] as you come into winter. And particularly at the more northern latitudes where the sun may not come up until 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning. And then when it does come up, it only reaches an angle of maybe 15 or 20 degrees at the best in the middle of the day, and then it drops back down again, so it's ... there's a really, very large decrease in ambient light.
Phil: That sounds like my worst nightmare I hate those days. I hate that.
Kim: Yeah, I couldn't agree more. So how do you ... and Phil and I were just saying, prior to the chat ... you know, here [00:33:30] where we are in Sydney, Australia, we get cues on when it's dark, it's time to go to bed. When it's light, it's time to get up. But looking at Iceland, for instance, where you ... in the depths of winter probably only get three or four hours of daylight ... and then in summer, 24 hours of daylight! What effect does that have on your body?
Leon: Well, I mean this is one that we're talking about. There are changes in people's behavior, of course, and they're awake and out more [00:34:00] during the summertime than they are during the winter time. Some studies have shown that in Sweden and Scandinavian countries they sleep almost up to an hour more during the winter time than they do it the summer time. So when it is sunnier and warmer outside, they spend more time awake. And I can well imagine that well before artificial electric lights that would've been even truer, probably. That difference between winter and summer in those northern latitudes.
We know a lot [00:34:30] about our body's body clock. Our circadian rhythms. These rhythms that vary on a 24-hour basis and help to prepare the body for being awake across the day and help it sleep at nighttime by small variations in a lot of physiological variables. Like core body temperature, like melatonin secretion ... virtually every physiological measure you can take shows this circadian variation across 24 hours. And all of those physiological, hormonal changes [00:35:00] and neurotransmitter changes that are taking place, reaching their high one time during the 24 hour period and a low at some other time, are all linked together, normally, in a person who has a regular nighttime sleep, daytime awake function.
And it helps people sleep at nighttime. It helps them be more alert and awake during the day. So although we think of ourselves as sort of warm-blooded animals whose body temperature never changes, that's not really strictly true. It does change. Not very much, but it goes down during [00:35:30] the nighttime and goes up during the daytime. That affects all of the body's biological, biochemical processes because they work more quickly when they're warmer, and they work less quickly when they're cold.
And so we can even measure differences in reaction times, much slower at 4, 5 o'clock in the morning than at 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening. Our alertness and our cognitive capacity varies very dramatically across [00:36:00] a 24 hour period. And so it prepares the body for sleep during the night and wake during the day. But if those rhythms become out of sync with the 24 hour period, then that can cause problems.
Kim: What are some tips for jet lag?
Leon: Ah, okay. We just gave some tips for jet lag to the Socceroos, in fact, because they had to fly from Honduras to Sydney, a seven-time zone shift. And what we recommended was that they needed to delay their body clock [00:36:30] to readjust to Sydney time. If they were adjusted to Honduran time in Central America, then their body clock doesn't adjust very quickly.
Bright light helps to ease that adjustment. So, we recommended they keep themselves out in the sunshine when they arrived in Sydney as late as possible in the evening. Because that late evening light has the effect to delay the body clock. And they needed to delay their body clocks so the dead zone [00:37:00] in their rhythm, which, on Honduran time, now transposed to Sydney, was probably 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening. But that is exactly the time they had to play the game against Honduras four days later.
Leon: So we got them exposed to a lot of sunlight in the evening. And then when they went indoors, we gave them more light. We used these re-timer devices which provide additional artificial light to help speed that delay of the body clock. And hopefully they moved that dead zone [00:37:30] back into their conventional time, 3 or 4 AM in the morning. And so at 9 or 10 o'clock at night, they were still functioning quite well. Won the game.
Kim: Well it's going to be interesting for the Icelandic team who've made the World Cup for the first time. Heading to Russia and trying to stay awake.
Leon: That's right, well that's a big time zone change for them. So they may need some advice as well. But the best advice for when you're flying overseas, across a lot of time zones, is trying to stay outside in the sunshine during the day as much as you can. If you [00:38:00] do have melatonin, you can take melatonin in the evening when you go to bed. That also has a small effect to help shift the body clock timing.
Kim: Excellent Leon. Thank you so much for taking time to have a chat to us.
Leon: That's fine, Kim.
Phil: Well, that was interesting. That's amazing. A bit of light, to stay outside in the sunshine ... see I've always had a theory about when I get back to help cure jet lag because I live in Sydney, Australia, you know, beautiful beaches here. Go and have [00:38:30] a plunge in the ocean.
Kim: Yeah, that helps.
Phil: So, you know, that's really good. But that's it, you're out in the sunlight. That's the point.
Kim: Yeah. That helps with a hangover, too, Phil.
Phil: Well that's my other theory about avoiding jet lag, by the way. When you get somewhere when you're out of zone, go out and get really hammered. Because then when you wake up, you're not sure whether you're jet-lagged or hungover, just the usual cure, you know, lasagna and a Mars bar, and you're okay!
Kim: Don't listen to any of our advice, right? Okay?
Actually, Phil, I should point out, it's suggested the Icelandic diet, [00:39:00] which is high in omega-3 is possibly the main reason there's a lower prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Now, have you got some travel news for us?
Phil: I've got lots of travel news for you, here we go.
Big news of the week is the demise of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. Hooray! Are we allowed to say that?
Phil: Hopefully this will mean a change for the better for the country which has suffered badly over the last 37 years. All that hyper-inflation? Like ...
Phil: Unbelievably difficult.
Kim: What will they do with his money?
Phil: Just lop a few zeroes off and start again. I don't know. I mean, hopefully it [00:39:30] changes. I mean, I think there are Mugabe supporters who are gonna take over from him, but, look, fingers crossed, because how wonderful would it be to have a Zimbabwe back as a functional and safe destination to go and explore?
Phil: Now the only part of Zimbabwe still attracting a decent number of travelers is Victoria Falls! Very beautiful, very famous falls. The tourism infrastructure for the Falls is on the Zimbabwean side, not the Zambian side. And it's always operated kind of in its own bubble I don't think that'll change much. It stays relatively safe there.
Check out [00:40:00] the World Nomads travel safety advice for Victoria Falls, a link is in the show notes. Plus, have a look at the amazing pictures of the Devil's Pool. This is a patch of calm water right on the edge of the Falls where you can plunge right in and it's relatively safe. But you can lean over the edge and have a look down the 350-foot drop whilst you're in the water.
Kim: Oh, I've seen this! No, I couldn't do it, I'm so scared of heights! I couldn't do it.
Kim: Isn't there kind of a natural ledge that stops [00:40:30] you from falling over?
Phil: Well, hopefully, yes!
Kim: Otherwise it's 300 meters down!
Phil: Yeah, three, yep. That's right. And look, the thing is, go with a guide, don't try to find this place on your own. Go with a guide. Try it out if you're a daredevil type but I'm sorry if ... it's not covered, by the way, by the travel insurance. So just be super careful.
Thanksgiving this year set new records for travel in the United States with 51 million people taking to the roads, rails, and airways. And that's only those who traveled more than 50 miles [00:41:00] from home. So if you're just popping around the corner to mom and pop to have some turkey, you don't count it. There are millions more. Crazy, so. So 89 percent of people traveled by car despite the higher gas prices this year. But those who chose to fly somewhere had the best deal in quite a while because airfares are 23 percent lower this year than they were at the same time last year.
Phil: We hope your travels were safe, and celebrations with family were full of love and gratitude. Now onto the holiday season for you guys. [00:41:30] Not much joy like that for European travelers last week, with a combination of an air traffic control failure in Amsterdam and strike action in Italy causing hundreds of flights to be canceled and creating long delays for travelers. Don't forget all World Nomads Travel Insurance policies have a benefit for unexpected expenses incurred by cancellation and delay!
Kim: Ooh! Is there a cut off though? You can't go [inaudible 00:41:53].
Phil: No, it doesn't get you to your location any faster but if you've got those out-of-pocket expenses because your flight's been delayed, [00:42:00] put in a claim we'll cover most of those for you.
Kim: That's excellent. Well, before we sign off, what is the answer to your quiz question?
Yay! We remembered it.
Phil: Hang on where is it ... I've forgotten!
Kim: You've got to find it.
Phil: Here we go, what was my quiz question? Oh, what happened to the trees?
Kim: Yeah, what happened to the trees in Iceland? It used to be covered in forests.
Phil: 40 percent forests. It's down ... in the middle of last century, it got down to 1 percent coverage. So they've had this massive regeneration program going on and they're hoping [00:42:30] to get it back up to 12 percent by 2100. But what happened to all this? The Vikings! The Vikings chopped them all down!
Kim: To make boats.
Phil: Well, they're not actually very big trees. So they're not good for ... but they used them for fuel and for timber.
Kim: Oh, okay.
Phil: And they also introduced sheep to the island. So ... and because sheep like to eat the saplings, the population of trees was decimated. And because of the climate, they don't grow back very fast at all. So it used to be very, very wooded. And they're trying to do their bit for global warming by regrowing [00:43:00] the trees there.
Kim: I'll tell you what, you redeemed yourself, you couldn't find the answer to the question ...
Phil: Not a piece of paper ... I still don't have the piece of paper in front of me!
Kim: That was one of the ... that was a really, super interesting quiz question.
Phil: Thank you.
Kim: That wraps up episode four of the World Nomads podcast on Iceland. Now, you can find us on iTunes. Please subscribe, rate, share. Stitcher, Podbean, and GooglePlay, our e-mail address too, we must let everyone know that's how you can contact us directly.
Phil: It is [email protected]
Kim: Now in our next episode we are off to South [00:43:30] Africa and we'll hear the amazing story of a man who went from culling Great White Sharks to preserving them.
Narrator: The World Nomads podcast. Explore your boundaries.
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