My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

There’s this word: Rasfeber. It’s a Swedish noun, meaning: “The restless race of the traveller’s heart before the journey begins. When anxiety and anticipation are tangled together; a ‘travel fever’ that can manifest as an illness.”

I have travelled quite a bit but never have I felt the anxiety that I felt before going to Iceland. I literally felt sick. In fact, I was actually sitting in the airport, hoping for something to happen that would prevent me from going. Sad, but true. I was nervous about a couple of things: going in the winter; spending Christmas alone; experiencing 18 hours of darkness, the cold, angry volcanos, and vampires; and being surrounded by an icy ocean! Luckily, none of these fears materialised and my trip to Iceland turned out to be one of the best holidays of my life!

It all started with absolutely magnificent scenery–so wild-looking and so beautiful. Even snow-covered cliffs that looked like they were straight out of the Game of Thrones.

It all started with absolutely magnificent scenery–so wild-looking and so beautiful.

Preparing to land in Iceland!

I spent most of my time in the capital city of Reykjavik – what a cute and walkable city! On my first day, locals met up with me and showed me around. Even though I was dead tired, I got to see some of the city before they went home to prepare for Christmas Eve with their families.

I experienced my first white Christmas, which was was amazing and beautiful. I may have travelled on my own but I was blessed to spend the day with some lovely people from Iceland and all over the world.

Christmas decorations in the city.

If there’s another reason to visit Iceland, it’s the capital city’s Police Department, or the Logreglan. A really awesome bunch of police officers, who were contacted by a friend, asked if we could meet them and take a photo together.  (We’re fans of their Instagram account.)

They then went a step further and came to my hotel on Christmas day and gave me a personal tour of their city. I felt like a VIP! It turns out that they don’t even carry guns! So you can imagine how safe the city is.  It’s the best place for a solo traveller!

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

Standing with some of the friendly police officers of the Icelandic police department in Reykjavik.

During the rest of my time in Iceland, I went on various day trips both inside and outside of the city. Even in the winter, there is so much to do and see!

We travelled the country in Super Jeeps, monster trucks that could climb over rocks, cross semi-frozen rivers, and off-road up and down glaciers and snow-covered sand dunes. While zipping across the Black Sand Beach of Solheimasandur, I was amazed to see the contrast between the black volcanic sands, the icy blue ocean and the white snow.

After rescuing some stranded vehicles in the snow, we went snowmobiling and hiking on a glacier–which really woke up some of my muscles. I also finally understood what a glacier is! One can chip off some of the glacial ice (just ask a guide first) and eat it. The water is delicious!

Aside from all the adventurous activities, the various waterfalls are a sight to behold. They literally took my breath away while standing beneath them! Then there’s the exploding geysers and the various geothermal spots around the country.

Watching them feels like waiting for a toaster to pop, except that it’s 100-degree Celsius poof of steam and water. Geysir and Strokkur are two of the most popular geysers to see. Geysir was a bit quiet when we visited, but Strokkur provided loads of entertainment.

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

My explorations took place mainly in the southern side of the country, but I plan on returning in the summer and exploring a bit more of the country. I also recommend checking out the Blue Lagoon, a byproduct of the geothermal plant, which heats up peoples’ homes with natural energy.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon is a great way to relax. Reykjavik also has many public pools worth visiting. These are open all year and frequented by locals and visitors alike.

Visiting the Blue Lagoon is a great way to relax. Reykjavik also has many public pools worth visiting. These are open all year and frequented by locals and visitors alike.

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

I didn’t run into any vampires (whew!), but I did have a lil’ Yule lad waiting at the hotel for me when I arrived. Icelanders have the cutest traditions. I found trolls and elves all over the place!

There are no bugs or reptiles in Iceland! So you can explore to your heart’s content without having to worry about running into a sleeping reptile.  You see, I’m South African, and these are real concerns when exploring the countryside.

With the late sunrises (+/-11:30am) and early sunsets (+/-3:30pm), everyone can capture Iceland’s beautiful scenery.

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

Winter in Iceland, with long nighttime hours, means it’s easy to see the beautiful Northern Lights.

Winter in Iceland, with long nighttime hours, means it’s easy to see the beautiful Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. They even make an appearance over the city itself! My photos were not great; a tripod is highly recommended. But one of our guides, Alli Möller, created a stunning video of the Auroras.

Though I expected Iceland to be cold, the weather wasn’t too bad. It just changes quickly. It was raining the last two days there, so some of the snow turned to ice, and my walks into town were quite slippery, and comedic at some points.  The trick is to walk like a penguin–lean slightly forward and change your centre of balance. There’s a saying that goes, “If you don’t like the weather in Iceland, just wait five minutes.” I suggest carrying lotion with you at all times to keep the dryness at bay.

Did you know that before Columbus, a Viking by the name of Leif Eriksson discovered the Americas? He now stands proudly in front of the mega-beautiful church named Hallgrimskirkja. This area is also the place to be on New Year’s Eve… with fireworks lighting up the night sky!

Hallgrimskirkja

One of my favourite things about Iceland were the Icelandic horses.

One of my favourite things about Iceland were the Icelandic horses. They are gorgeous and furry beasts, with glamorous and thick manes that blow around in the crazy Icelandic wind. They’re so friendly, they’ll walk up to you if you approach them–I guess they want food.

Carry treats in case you spot them. Apparently, riding them is a very smooth experience; you can have a cup of tea while going for a Sunday stroll and you won’t spill a drop.

Gorgeous Icelandic horses!

Never in all my travels have I met people like the ones I met in Iceland. Perhaps the Vikings were really misunderstood sweeties. From the very friendly Logreglan (police) to the President’s compound, which had no fences nor security, Iceland is a country filled with kind and open people.

At the end of my trip, I was very tempted to stay on a few extra nights but I needed to return to my puppies. I definitely left a piece of my heart behind in Iceland. But I’ll be back this summer to spend my birthday there!

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland 

Related Reading

How to Make the Most of a 24-Hour Stopover in Iceland

Have you traveled to Iceland? How was your trip? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland photo credits: Emily Fernandez

About Emily Fernandez

Emily FernandezEmily Fernandez is a Technology Consultant, who really just wants to be a globetrotting nice-shoe-wearing-minstrel (without the singing). She lives and works in Johannesburg (South Africa), but was born in Zambia back in the days of yore. 🙂 She loves her two terrors (Scottish and Yorkshire terriers), watching wildlife in the wild, good food, learning about new cultures and travel!

12 thoughts on “My Extraordinary Trip to Iceland

  1. Avatar
    Nozi
    April 3, 2015
    Reply

    Im so intrigued… such a beautiful place. You are one adventurous woman and I never imagined travelling solo could be fun. The article is well written…love the pics!!!

  2. Avatar
    Estelle
    February 20, 2015
    Reply

    Wow Emily, your trip sounds Absolutely Amazing! Great article and pics about your adventures. Iceland just went on my bucket list 😉

  3. Avatar
    Maria
    January 27, 2015
    Reply

    Wooow What an awesome article!!I Love it!! I have never been to Iceland but you visually took me there.!!Please write more:-)

  4. Avatar
    brenda
    January 26, 2015
    Reply

    Wow…..This is awesome emily, now i’m inspired to travel and see amazing places like iceland ….:-), love the pics

  5. Avatar
    Neo
    January 25, 2015
    Reply

    Sounds like you had lots of fun Emily. Thank you for succinctly capturing the very essence of you trip to Iceland. Now I want to go there! Well written and well done!

  6. Avatar
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    I know how you felt. I thought it would be a difficult place to travel around. I have now been to Iceland 7 times. Never go near the capital which is just another small city. I head out in a rented car and just drive – it is easy driving. Just make sure you get a car for the conditions.

  7. Avatar
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    Hey Empress….taking over another place. I see Iceland really inspired u and, the way you write about it, u got me thinking that Iceland can be a great holiday destination to visit.

  8. Avatar
    Christine
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    Looks like an awesome trip! Beautiful photos!!!

  9. Avatar
    Agnes
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    Wow Emily! Impressive writing skills. Now I want a white Christmas too:) I cannot wait to see Iceland

    • Emily
      Emily
      January 23, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Agnes! I have to thank Rachel, the editor for Pink Pangea, for helping clean up the article before publishing it. 🙂

  10. Avatar
    Brite Devassy
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    Wow, I would never have considered Iceland as a holiday destination prior to reading this Post… It has now made its way into my Bucket List…

  11. Avatar
    Boitumelo
    January 23, 2015
    Reply

    You really had fun dear. You 1 of the adventurous and brave woman I know.

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