There’s one aspect of the journey to Iceland that I haven’t mentioned much and that’s money. I’m going to estimate the entire process, inclusive of hotels, rentals, shipping, packing, and all the rest has cost us somewhere in the area of $20,000. What’s most remarkable about that is the fees paid to Italy and Iceland.
During the process of applying for citizenship (jure sanguinis), the Italian consulate charged a few hundred dollars at one point for an application fee. Otherwise everything I’ve requested or done with Italy has been free of charge. All of our documents that we’ve requested have been free. All copies of things mailed around have been free.
Similarly, the government services in Iceland seem to be free as well. Processing our residency had no charge. It didn’t strike me as odd until I compared it mentally with things in the United States. Everything in the US costs money. Remarkably, the charges for government services are often also taxed, which is worthy of an eyebrow raise. Just picking up a drivers license in Pennsylvania required going to a bunch of different places to get emissions tests (fee), inspection (fee), registration (fee).
Regardless, today we dropped off our rental car and tested out the bus system. Stræto is the bus line here. The word means “bus” literally. Iceland does that a lot. It’s pretty cute. We dropped off the car, popped into a Whale Museum with life-size models of whales that was just awesome, then hoofed it around the downtown area for an hour or two just getting lost and seeing what we could. The idea was that we’d stumble into dinner somewhere and then use the bus to get home.
We ended up getting a fancy dinner at Food Cellar (Matakjallarinn). I had an absolutely astounding fish soup there. No pictures, sadly. The sad reality of life in Iceland is that certain things are just too expensive. Eating dinner out at a restaurant is easily 3 times the cost it is in the United States. While super market shopping is fairly close to what you’d expect at an upscale organic market, the dining scene has simply run-away with costs. We roughly estimate that we can go out and eat about once a week and stay on par with what we spent in Pennsylvania.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing for us. Leah and I both had struggles with holding back on the impulse eating that fast-food affords. Now we plan more carefully and our budget will help hold us to that. Having no car and walking more is also sure to help.
After the dinner we popped onto the #6 bus and were back at our airbnb in about 5 minutes. It was simple and the Stræto app on our phones made it doubly so.
This evening I started on some freelance work and Leah busted out her travel yarn. We’re settling in well. It’s now almost 1 a.m. and I’m about to sleep. The night is about as dark as it’s going to get for this time of year. It’s just dark enough that most cars on the roads will have their headlights on, but not so dark you couldn’t read on the porch. Wild stuff.