So first, in an effort to be completely transparent, I want to tell you this blog post is an outright effort to convince you that Iceland needs to go to the top of your ‘need to see’ list. I love the country with an almost comical zeal and I want you to, too!
For reasons beyond my recollection, Iceland has fascinated me since elementary school when we first began geography lessons. It made absolutely no sense to me that Iceland got the name ‘Iceland’ when it is indeed not covered with ice and Greenland got the name ‘Greenland’ when there is absolutely no green as far as the eye can see. For a child, this was delightful.
My early obsession hung around and finally, as a guide with AGC, I had the opportunity to guide our Iceland trip. Traveling there satisfied my long-standing curiosity beyond my wildest dreams and showed me that there are far more things to delight a visitor to Iceland than just its name!
One thing I loved was adopting local lore. It's a real treat to visit a place where entire roads are re-routed or slightly detoured because there’s an ‘elf house’ (the hidden people called Huldufolk) that you can’t disturb. And I find it wildly entertaining to take up the widely-held belief that when you look at the big boulders in the volcanic areas, there may be huge trolls lurking to either misdirect you or help you along depending on your past behavior!
In addition to being fun, Iceland is a land of sharp contrasts. The rocks are barren and cold but lurking beneath the entire island is fire and hot water. There is so much hot water, in fact, that all Icelandic homes are heated this way and you never have to wait for the water to ‘warm up’ in the shower. Geo-thermal baths are everywhere – both natural and engineered (the Blue Lagoon) - and it's just a part of the local culture to enjoy these hot springs regularly.
The people of Iceland are fascinating in that they all seem to be very tall, blond and Viking-like; their very stature begs the helmet with horns. Plus, they speak only in consonants and one word can take up most of a single page! It is so fun (and rather difficult) to try and conquer some of those words.
Then, of course the sights – Reykjavik with its cosmopolitan feel, bustling with activity any time of the day, and fascinating architecture.
And what are those strange metal bike rack like structures on the streets?
Not for your bike – it’s for the baby carriage and yes, there will be a baby there, blissfully napping even on a cold and snowy day while Mom is in the nearby coffee shop enjoying coffee and conversation with other moms. In the U.S. we would have called Child Protective Services but here – it’s the norm!
And there’s more – the World Famous Hot Dog stand, Hallgrimskirkja, the Laundromat Café’ where you can have a great meal AND wash your clothes, tons of museums from Icelandic art and artists to Icelandic culture (my favorite) and, of course, the Pearl (Perlan).
It’s surprisingly simple to leave Reykjavik and explore the Golden Circle.
I loved that there is so much to seek within easy driving distance: black sand beaches, national parks, geysers (and they are actually pronounced ‘gee-zers’ in Iceland), glaciers that you can walk on, Icelandic horses, majestic waterfalls, unbroken and beautiful landscapes, elves, gnomes and ogres and maybe even the elusive northern lights!
One last thing about Iceland – it is so easy to get to from the U.S. and it’s a fairly short flight you have time this coming March, we have a great Iceland trip and would love for you to join us.
Have I convinced you just how wonderful Iceland is? I do love it, after all.