The Question: A friend and I have always wanted to visit Iceland, and hope to go this June or July. While we know there will be spectacular scenery and tours to see it, what we're especially interested in is Icelandic culture, particularly its feminism. Is there a way we can learn about this, or meet people to tell us about it, while we're there?
You're heading to the right place. Iceland may well be the most feminist country in the world, as one Guardian headline noted. Almost half the parliamentarians are female, the Prime Minister is the world's first openly lesbian head of state, it has banned all strip clubs, and it takes the top global spot on gender equality.
So how do you experience this women-friendly nation? Go beyond the guidebooks in search of events through sites such as the Women's History Archives ( kvennasogusafn.is) or The Reykjavik Grapevine ( grapevine.is), the country's English-language newspaper.
"There are so many incredible feminist artists in this country," says a.rawlings, an award-winning Canadian poet who spent a lot of time in Iceland. She highly recommends attending events put on by the Icelandic Love Corporation, Erna Omarsdottir, Lazyblood, Olof Arnalds, Kristin Eiriksdottir, Gudrun Eva Minervudottir. "The list could go on forever!" she says.
And don't neglect those perennial travel tools - happenstance and a friendly hello. The poet, who is on her ninth trip to Iceland, suggests some destinations in Reykjavik, such as the cafés C is For Cookie or Truno, which is run by the owners of Pink Iceland ( pinkiceland.is), a gay travel company. Suit up and soak at the thermal pools at Laugardalslaug or Vesturbaejarlaug, where locals exchange the week's gossip. Or challenge the champs to a game of foosball at the artsy hip bar Bakkus or mix with the sound engineers and kindergarten teachers at Olstofan, a cozy hangout for the 30-plus crowd.
"Locals and foreigners alike are often more than willing to engage in unusual conversation," she says. "My experience is that folks are quite friendly, often deeply fascinating and willing to share stories, and you never know whom you'll meet."
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Karan Smith is a former editor of Globe Travel. Special to The Globe and Mail