The Golden Circle in Iceland

by Andrew Stein

Iceland’s landscapes are spectacular, but equally interesting to the views is the audiobook we’re listening to.  As entertainment in the car while we drive from geyser to waterfall to museum to hot spring, we listen to Meltdown Iceland: How the Global Financial Crisis Bankrupted an Entire Country.  We learn how the 2008 world financial crisis began in Iceland, with its population of only 300k.  And then we go on to see manifestations of that in many of the sites we visit.

At the geothermal energy center where we learn how Iceland uses geothermal energy to heat its cities, we also learn that the center was built just before the financial crisis.  As a result, the center is beautiful, but unfortunately, they can’t afford to replace the expensive Italian light bulbs so the building isn’t shining quite as brightly as it used to.  Also, when we visit Reykjavik’s concert hall Harpa, it was designed along with a hotel just before the crisis, but it wasn’t started until many years after the crisis.  As we tour around, we learn of all the compromises that needed to be made because the original private donors could no longer support it.

Today, we enjoy the tourist hub that Iceland has become partly because of this mammoth financial explosion.  But whatever the reason, there is no denying this beautiful country.