I once heard that a culture can be described by its cuisine and language. I’ve discovered something else to add to that list: smell. The first thing that hit me as I walked out of the airport on Day 1 was the sulfurous smell. Reykjavik’s air has “rotten egg” fumes coming from the hot springs, which play a huge role in modern Icelandic culture. A majority of the country’s energy comes from these holes in the Earth. Their smell is in the air, in the water, even in the food.
A visit to Iceland, especially one focused on fisheries, would not be complete without visiting the Westman Islands, which are very important to the large fishing industry. In addition to the unique landscape of the islands (shaped by active volcanoes), there’s no mistaking the characteristic smell of fish. From the harbor to the fish factory, the heavy scent of raw fish follows you everywhere. There’s no escape.
So, next time you travel, smell the air!