One of the reasons I always prefer to stay in bed and breakfasts or guesthouses when traveling (other than the fact that they’re usually very affordable) is because you learn so much about the locals. I’ve gleaned the most interesting information just from chatting with the owner of the guesthouse I’m staying at in Reykjavik.
The guesthouse is actually her family’s home but after the country went bankrupt, the loans on the house tripled. She said some people simply gave up and stopped trying to pay their exorbitant loans and now many of them are losing their homes. In a resourceful move, she and her husband turned their home into a guesthouse last summer, which allows them to pay off the loans while they live in a rented home and build a more affordable house in the suburbs.
Luckily, Iceland is a rather feminist country and provides decent help for parents struggling to afford the costs of raising kids — public preschool starts at age three and the cost of sending younger children to a local playgroup is subsidized by the government. On a grander scale, the country’s first female president took office way back in 1980 (four years before a major American political party would even consider nominating a woman to run for Vice President), and she was actually the first democratically-elected head of state in the entire world. Meanwhile, the current Icelandic Prime Minister is a lesbian, making her the first openly gay head of government in the modern world. She’s even married to her partner, since of course Iceland allows gay marriage, too. Icelanders should be proud their country is so ahead of its time.