what we in the USA can learn from Iceland

There are so many things that come to mind.  The value they place and the care they take on preserving their very unusual and spectacular natural environment.  The actions they have taken to ensure that women have equal rights and pay.  How they have approached the Covid realities with very high vaccination rates, extensive Covid testing and diligent contact tracing.  The way they have captured the geothermal heat from the earth that is supplying energy and heating the homes of its citizens. To name a few of the more important ones.

But I thought I would mention a couple of small things that I saw or experienced that caused me to say to myself “why aren’t we doing this in the States?”

The first is a plaything — some kind of trampoline — that I don’t even have a name for, but does it attract kids of all ages.  They love it.  This is in every community park, right next to the soccer fields, handball courts and pools.

The second item is a community thermal bath or pool complex.

I am not talking about the world famous Blue Lagoon which attracts so much attention.  In a lava rock field far from towns and cities, this large lagoon is thermally heated and has attracted mostly tourists for years.  Drinks are available at a bar in the water.  Very high end and very expensive.

No. what I am talking about is the same concept – a thermally heated pool complex – that is in each community, in each small town in the country.  This is not for tourists.  This is for the local citizens.

They are in every community, no matter how small the town is.  They are open from early in the morning to late at night.  You have to pay a modest fee to enter, unless you are a senior and then it is free.

There are rules to be followed.  Men and women have separate changing and shower rooms of course.  All must shower and use soap to wash before and after they use the facilities.  Lockers are available so that clothes and valuables can be stored safely.  No phones or photos allowed.

These facilities are unbelievably popular.  They attract families and all ages.  They become the community meeting place.  Everyone, it seems, comes at some point to the thermal community bath/pool a few times a week to relax and just chill out in warm or hot waters.

When I say thermal, I mean thermally heated.  They have several different small circular and rectangular mini pools, each one of which will be set at a different temperature.  They are called “hot pots.” One at 86 degrees; one at 93; one at 98;  one at 101.  You get the idea.  So you can choose what you want and move around from one to another.  One always has really cold water.

This is not just a community swimming pool.  No.  These may have as many as 10 different “pools” in each complex.  The complexes vary in how many bells and whistles are included.  All have a variety of several different hot tub like smaller pools.  all have at least one lap pool with lanes for people who want to swim.  All the other tubs/pools are for relaxing, not swimming.  Some have water slides; some have a diving pool. Some have a portion of the tubs/pools inside.  Most are totally outside.  All have steam rooms and saunas too.

I was given advice by an Icelandic friend that the way to meet and get to know the people of Iceland is to go to the community baths/pools.  I did it several times during my two weeks and enjoyed it immensely.


3 thoughts on “what we in the USA can learn from Iceland”

  1. Sounds lovely, Neil! The pools themselves, and also the public goods that so many in the community enjoy. I’m guessing that builds strong communities all around Iceland

  2. What an adventure! Your descriptions, observations and experienced made me feel this should be added to my bucket list. Traveling in the camper van and spending time with locals truly have you such insight and depth into the lives of people on this country
    Do they care for the elderly? Did you see retirement communities.?
    Sure sounds as though you traveled at a good time weather wise.
    Safe continued travels to hug that sweet baby girl ❤️

  3. Yet another great post sharing so many truths! Iceland is now on the top of my to do list! Thinking you need to get a job consulting for their Tourist Board!!

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