An island country in a remote corner of Europe with 100% green energy and 0% crime. Sounds like a fairytale? Well, it is, and even more than that. Iceland o!ers travellers everything beyond imagination, starting from spectacular landscapes and incredible adventures up to utmost luxury.
“I’ll take you for the swim of your life”, the local beauty hides behind her enigmatic smile, when picking us up at the airport. In less than half an hour the contrast of black lava rocks against the amazing deep blue coloured water suggests we have reached our destination.
Carved in lava, the winding path leads us through a nearly mysterious landscape of scenic beauty to the Blue Lagoon where the warm geothermal seawater, loaded with minerals, splashes away our tiredness. The minerals leave a strange white coating on the rough lava rocks. The steam of water in the crystal clear air adds to these cryptic mineral paintings and the whole setting reminds of some science fiction movie. We apply the silica mud on our faces to look creepy enough to fit into this scene and welcome our cocktail with an uncanny smile.
Refreshed and rejuvenated, we try our hand in the fragile art of ice sculptures, following the secret techniques of our expert artist. Then, leaving our elusive beauties behind, we continue to Reykjavik that keeps up the surreal feeling, awaiting us with highly unusual architecture.
Resting on six huge storage tanks, each able to hold four million litres of geothermal hot water, the top floor of our restaurant slowly rotates, a!ording a magnificent panorama of the city and surroundings while we enjoy the exquisite modern Nordic cuisine with a Mediterranean twist, before finding out if the legends of the debauch Reykjavik nightlife are really true.
Next day, full of thrilling expectations, we keep in mind the local saying that there’s nothing like good or bad weather, it’s all about clothing and state of mind. To explore the spectacular scenery of lava fields, mountains and glaciers, we board a super jeep for some o!-road adventure flavoured by supreme natural phenomena. We are heading towards inland to see Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Gullfoss. A glacier shaped waterfall, formed in five days by an iceberg that travelled trapped under a glacier for many years. It majestically thunders tons of icy water down into a deep gorge. The misty clouds surrounding this natural wonder are filled with dozens of rainbows and the brownish glacial water truly looks golden, leaving us stunned by the monumental beauty of nature. Quite soon, the infamous joke about the Icelandic forests makes total sense: the little clusters of undersized trees on the way confirm why the locals laugh that in case you ever get lost all you need to do is stand up.
Further a mountain road takes us to the second biggest glacier in Europe. After ice climbing, a real outdoor ice bu!et with Icelandic delicates and hot drinks is waiting for us, and now it is not so hard to imagine this 900 year old glacier hosting fully serviced private parties!
Our tour continues to the Geyser area where we discover the famous Geyser which has given name to hot springs all over the world. The once great Geyser has been somewhat shy for a few decades. Apparently it just got tired and needed a rest. Now the crowds get entertained by Geyser’s neighbour Strokkur, one of the most active geysers in the area. Every few minutes it spouts steaming hot water up to 30 meters high.
Meandering among steaming vents, colourful mud formations and funny miniature geysers, we find our way out of the Geyser area by twilight. And as every evening, our looks turn skywards with a hope to see these strange faintly coloured beams of northern lights that would create a perfect setting for any fishing and hunting adventure, or even better, a game of cricket or football.
A tête-à-tête with an active volcano is a must in Iceland, though it is a bizarre feeling when the chopper approaches this fire spouting power play of nature. We feel slightly relieved when the distance between us increases. The contrast of fire and ice, earth’s constant rumbling, barren lava fields and ash covered hills may have become an integral part of life for the locals, but we are rather as perplexed as the Vikings and other early settlers, who believed that only those who died of old age, sickness, or as a coward were sent to the underworld of “Heljar”, a place covered in snow and ice.
By now the entire world is acquainted with Icelandic ash. The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in 2010 brought the air tra!c in Europe to complete standstill by discharging incredible amounts of ash into the sky. To immortalize the fact of an Icelandic volcano, JS Watch Co, the first and only watch manufacturer in Iceland, integrated the miniscule, light volcanic ash into their newest model. So, if it is not enough for you to have the same watch as Quentin Tarantino, King of Greece or His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, you can try this one. Made with genuine ash from the volcano Eyjafjallajökull. Maybe it really brings the energy and power of the innermost workings of our Earth, as promised by the manufacturers.
And if you are curious to actually see the innermost workings yourself, explore the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. Using the necessary gear and equipment, arm yourself with willingness to finish an easy 40 minute hike (to get to the crater) and the guts to descend 120 meters to the bottom of the crater in an open cable lift.
Later, putting on our ice skates and admiring the frozen lake in the crater in front of us, we remember that any volcano is a temperamental creature with magma unceasingly boiling underneath our feet. To calm our adrenaline levels, locals entertain us with stories about their country, which is being run by some thousand people, because two thirds of inhabitants are either too young or too old to work. Another interesting fact? The world’s very first parliament was formed in Iceland!
On the way to our next adventure, our guide informs us that a local Viking found America 500 years before Columbus and legend has it that Columbus stopped in Iceland for directions before his journey. We are about to discover a remote corner of Iceland with an unique opportunity to watch polar bears up close.
When engines stop and the silence enwraps us, a sudden realization surfaces. The time to leave this wonderland is approaching, though the few days packed with adventures and the warm welcome made us feel we have been here for ages. There are still so many things we need to see and do. We definitely have to come back, to the custom made ice hotel and have a candle light dinner in a fully serviced volcanic lava cave, 60 metres down! This country is surely addictive, and if God has a residence, it certainly must be in Iceland.