My experience visiting Iceland
It was at this time in August exactly 7 years ago when I took a flight from London to Reykjavik to visit my good friends. I cannot believe so much time have passed since our unforgettable trip. I remember a few years before that I had not even thought of visiting Iceland until a group of my good teenage friends moved into Reykjavik.
The guys started working in a local car repair company there and did not stop talking about the beauty of Icelandic landscapes and great lifestyle they were leading there. Definitely way better than we had in our home country Slovakia until then. At the same time I began working as a cabin crew in Scotland and the last boy from our group of friends founded a gardener’s supply company in London.
After a couple of years without seeing each other at once we decided to finally have a reunion. And what was a better place for that than the unique Iceland where the American and the Eurasian tectonic plates come together?
Our Slovak ”local” friends picked us up at the airport with loads of winter and rain clothes as we were told the weather in Iceland is unpredictable. I remember my friend laughing ”Sometimes there are days when we have all 4 seasons in a day and we have to carry a raincoat, a winter jacket, and a pair of shorts with us all the time, just in case.” And only the following days proved he was so right as we experienced hot sunny days just in shorts and tank tops, rainy and windy days and even freezing ones when not even a jacket was enough for me.
Anyway, we stayed overnight at our friends’ apartment in Reykjavik, the largest city established in Southwestern Iceland already in AD 874. We only took a walk around the city, went souvenir shopping and then had fun at a couple of bars and discoteques. The rest of our time on the volcanic island was spent outdoors exploring the famous natural wonders.
Each day our friends would drive us in their huge SUV cars around the well-known Iceland landmarks and then we would go back to Reykjavik for the night. We started exploring the popular tourist route Golden Circle and I couldn’t stop staring out of the window in awe. Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe and I so enjoyed this fact! Most of the time we just drove through stunning greenish or sandy landscapes full of rivers, waterfalls, thermal water or lava fields. It was there where I realized I cannot choose between beach destinations burning my skin and nature making me alive because I love them both equally.
I can’t remember the long difficult local names of all the places we visited but the memories were burnt in my heart forever. I reckon we strolled around the Geysir geothermal area 100 km from Reykjavik observing the biggest one of them Strokkur and the oldest known geyser in the world – the Geysir itself. Although 70 m tall Geysir can go even years without eruption, active Strokkur throws a column of water up to 20 m regularly every 10 minutes. I can still feel the sulphur smell of the area.
We also had a chance to visit the big volcanic crater Kerid located in South Iceland in the Grímsnes area. Kerid is more than 55 m deep, 170 m wide and 270 m across and it’s known for its magical 14 m deep lake at the bottom. It used to be for free but since July 2016 there is an entrance fee to visit.
Personally, for me the best experience visiting Iceland was driving to the glacial lake Jökulsárlón. It is located on the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park with Vatnajökull (Vatna Glacier in English) forming the biggest ice cap on the island. The deepest Icelandic lake Jökulsárlón covering 18 square kilometres appeared in some Hollywood movies, such as Batman Begins or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. This lake was so picturesque! Its first mention was in 1948 and as every year the icebergs keep melting, the lakes gets bigger in size. The lake water was freezing yet we got rid of the shoes and put our bare feet into it. I regained so much energy doing so while looking at the melting pieces of ice around… definitely one of those moments I will never be able to forget.
On the way back we made a 2-hour stop at Dyrholaey, a small peninsula formerly known as Cape Portland. The meaning of its current name is the hill-island with the door-hole because a huge black arch of lava stands in front of it. To the East of the white lighthouse black lava shore Reynisdrangar with basalt sea stacks is visible. It was so stunning I had to lie down at the edge of it trying to take a good photo (which I didn’t manage anyway as my small camera I owned at that time was really horrible). One more tip: Many puffins nest around Dyrholaey in summer time so look for them.
*photo credits: Iceland.is
Our Iceland trip was finished with an afternoon in the geothermal spa Blue Lagoon. Right, I am talking about those famous thermal pools with white mud you can see all around internet. Because I am a spa lover, my friends took me there to chill. We had so much fun splashing the mineral-rich mud into each other laughing like crazy. What a wonderful experience it was!
As you can see, we only had time to explore the Southern part of iconic Iceland very briefly. The rest of the second largest European island is planned for the next adventure…