Summer was in its final stages when my husband, Darrell, and I touched down in Iceland last August, but you’d hardly know it. Cold and raining heavily, I was relieved that I’d packed accordingly: rain gear, hiking boots, coat, warm socks, gloves and lots of long underwear. Layers are the key to comfortable travel through Iceland.
We spent the first night in Iceland in its capital, Reykjavik. We usually travel with an ice chest and eat lunch from the cooler (most hotels offer a breakfast) and have dinner out. We quickly found that finding a cooler in Iceland was not easy.
The typical reply when we asked about ice was: “In Iceland?”
My husband found an electric cooler that plugged into the car and outlet (I had no idea something like this existed, and I have yet to see anything like it in the States). We started out early the next day, cooler packed with meats, drinks and yogurt, creamy and exquisite yogurt. The stories are true – it’s amazing.
Leaving Reykjavik, the weather was cloudy, but clearing in the distance. In no time at all we were in the sun, the sky a beautiful liquid blue. I must have taken two hundred-plus photographs of waterfalls on the trip (first you see the mist, then the falls).
Depending on the geographical local, the falls cascade down mountains of lush green foliage, crashing through canyons of rock or simply trickle down a mountain to the beautiful valley below.
Having taken a glacier tour a few years before in New Zealand, we went for a half-day tour on Vatnajokull glacier, the largest and most voluminous in the country. At first, hiking up to the point where we attached our crampons, it was dark and gloomy, a slight mist in the air. We came upon a glacier lake which looked dirty as well as the ice in the water. It was then I realized it was ash, suit and lava rock, darkening the ice and waters surrounding us!
We attached our crampons and headed onto the glacier with our picks. In the distance mountains of ice looked ominous and threatening; look the other way and a sea of white flows on, covered in part by glacier moss and ash.
I drank from the clear pools of water that emerged from the ice – again, something I can’t explain, so cold, so refreshing, so very natural.
Continuing our journey around the island we came upon many side roads, leading to what we didn’t know, but were game to find out and these proved to be some of our favourite spots. We marvelled at glacier lake, so blue it was almost luminescent. Wild mushrooms grew nearby and we were greeted by some Icelandic sheep, which are much better looking and sturdy looking than what we have in America, their coats more like lama’s than sheep and they walk with the sureness of mountain goat.
The sights that surrounded me amazed me daily, and never have I breathed air so fresh and exhilarating. (Below are just a couple from my extensive collection). If, like me, you have asthma, you immediately appreciate the use of natural resources and the cleanliness of everything in the country. Whether it is the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon or any of the other natural bathing pools, the sea air or the cool mist that was always evident – even on the sunniest of days.
My grandfather immigrated from Sweden in 1917. I adored my grandfather who always made me feel special and made me believe anything was possible with hard work, regardless of your gender. I began fishing with my grandfather when I was three years old. One side drive brought us to a statue that touched me more than some of the masters’ paintings in Europe. A simple statue of a fisherman and a child; it was like looking into my past.
That is one of the beauties of travel: every experience is different. But Iceland is unworldly and worthy of our respect for its power and magnificence – something I believe should be cherished.