28 February 2016
The landscape was incredible, with about 130 volcanoes on an island the size of Ohio, it truly is the land of fire and ice. The country has only 300,000 inhabitants and 200,000 of them live in the capital of Reykjavik. With tourism gaining popularity in both summer (still the high season) and winter, Iceland is rising to the challenge of making sure people get a chance to see amazing things.
Throughout the week we were in awe of the SUVs jacked up with tall, super wide tires so they could cross through the rivers and climb across the glaciers that cover the interior. They made monster trucks in the US look like toy cars.
Fish was always on the menu and traditional food included dried cod, gravlax- a cured salmon, sheep's head, and most memorable, Hakarl, fermented shark meat. Hakarl is so smelly that it was served in a sealed jar so everyone else at dinner wouldn't lose their appetite. Once opened, the smell of ammonia just about singed the inside of my nose.
Hakarl is prepared by burying it in the ground and letting it rot for 6-12 weeks then fermenting in the air for 4 months. This process is to reduce the poisons in the fresh shark meat. At first it tasted like a mild pickled herring, but within seconds the taste turned into rotten cheese soaked in gasoline.
The only thing one can and should do to wash it out of your mouth is by drinking gulps of Brennivin, Icelandic schnapps with the endearing nickname of Black Death. Although it is absolutely terrible, since it is a local delicacy, you should always give it a try!