Wanderlust Meets Tour Bus: Iceland with my Grandmother

Wanderlust Meets Tour Bus: Iceland with my Grandmother

Wanderlust Meets Tour Bus: Iceland with my Grandmother

As a frequent and often independent traveler, I was not sure what to expect when I embarked on a nine-day trip through Iceland on a guided group tour with my 80-year old grandmother, Bopchie. Bopchie is a force. She attended law school in the 1950s when women were scarcely seen in such places, and has practiced law for over 50 years. Needless to say, she is fiercely independent. Outside of her career, she is a seasoned, adventurous traveler. Still, I wondered, would seeing the sights with a large group of mostly retired couples feel the same as exploring a new country on my own?

Upon our arrival in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, Bopchie wanted to spend the day resting in our hotel and recovering from the flight, while I was ready to rally. However, joy and laughter began to fill our trip together as we left the hotel in the evening for dinner and found ourselves wandering the quaint streets of Reykjavik, where we eventually settled at an adorably decorated restaurant in town called the Laundromat Cafe.

Walking around town after dinner, we passed a pharmacy. Knowing that I would struggle to adjust to sleeping if it never became dark outside, Bopchie suggested we stop inside to pick up some ‘melanoma’. Of course, she had meant to say ‘melatonin’, and we both got a good laugh out of her mistake. 

Sightseeing via constantly getting on and off of our tour bus in Reykjavik turned out to be exactly my speed. I was mesmerised on our first full day by the pure meditative quiet at the Cathedral, enchanted by the view of the whole city from the Perlan, and thrilled to play in the healing mineral rich waters of the Blue Lagoon pools that afternoon.

Knowing that I would struggle to adjust to sleeping if it never became dark outside, Bopchie suggested we stop inside the pharmacy to pick up some ‘melanoma’.

The next day, we departed Reykjavik for the southern coastal town of Vik, stopping along the way at the innovative Hellisheioi Geothermal power plant, several awe-inspiring waterfalls, and the most unusual black sandy beaches. Seeing all of these places and more through Bopchie’s eyes was a unique way of experiencing each destination. Watching her excitement build every time the bus stopped only made me more excited. Napping with her between stops, sharing snacks—usually some sort of Icelandic chocolate—and debriefing with her about every location made the trip so much more fulfilling than if I had been there on my own.

Every day, as I helped her navigate short hikes walking arm in arm, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and privilege to be spending such beautiful quality time with my greatest role model. Through glaciers, geysirs, and seemingly endless waterfalls, we were beyond impressed by mother nature together. I chuckled as she boldly tasted the fermented shark that I refused at the Bjarnarhofn Farm, indulged with her in the best tomato soup I’ve ever tasted at Frioheimar Tomato Farm, and shared a piece of ice with her from the broken floating icebergs while cruising through the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. 

I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and privilege to be spending such beautiful quality time with my greatest role model. Through glaciers, geysirs, and seemingly endless waterfalls, we were beyond impressed by mother nature together.

I felt the age gap between myself and the rest of the tourists on the trip, especially when I found myself bathing in a hot tub with Bopchie outside our hotel on the exquisite Snaefellsnes Peninsula; the hot tub experience was shared with an elderly couple who joined us. When the woman climbed into the hot tub, she slipped and fell, and the entire conversation that proceeded while we sat in the steam and took in the spectacular view revolved around arthritis pain and hip surgeries. This, I laughed to myself, was something I could only sit through while traveling with my grandmother.

While I am used to meeting young people closer to my age when I am traveling, this trip was an entirely new experience of bonding with mostly people Bopchie’s age. Instead of exchanging travel tips and recommendations with my contemporaries as I usually do, I found myself gleaning meaningful wisdom about life in every conversation, hearing the most adorable stories about how each couple had met, fallen in love, and where they’d travelled together.

I was so inspired by the lives they had lived, the work they had done, and the perspectives they had to share. I was equally proud to serve as a role model to them while traveling with my grandmother; nearly every couple complimented us profusely and expressed hope that they will have a relationship with their grandchildren like I do with Bopchie, and that they can travel with them in the same way.

I didn’t need these constant reminders of how lucky I was to be traveling Iceland with her; I knew it. With Bopchie by my side, I could not help but enjoy every second of our truly unforgettable trip in the magical country that is Iceland.

 

Wanderlust Meets Tour Bus: Iceland with my Grandmother

Related Reading

How to Make the Most of a 24-Hour Stopover in Iceland
Travel Iceland: The Real Deal with Leah Missik
Choosing to Stay Young in Iceland with Kathryn Cardin

Have you traveled to Iceland? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com to share your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

 

About Jenna Ferman

Jenna FermanJenna is a recent college graduate who decided to teach English in Petach Tikvah, Israel instead of boarding the professional train wearing high heels and carrying a briefcase. A native Philadelphian, Jenna is an avid runner, yogi, dog lover and chocoholic. She has journeyed around the globe, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Iceland, and Jordan. Adventures continuing now.

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