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. 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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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 / Trip to Iceland
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