Iceland, September 2015

I made it home from my month-long travels of Iceland, England, Scotland, Wales, and Venice. I took something like 5,000 photos, a small fraction of which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks as I sort through them all and blog about my trip.

Iceland was not even on my radar as a place to visit when I began planning this trip, but after hearing about Icelandair’s free stopover program, I decided to take three days here.

Reykjavik is a very modern place. Up until the 1950s, most of Iceland’s very small population lived in primitive sod houses, and would definitely have qualified as a third world country. But when the technology boom hit the world, Iceland prospered, and became the third richest country in the world – ahead even of the USA.

Reykjavik was a puzzle to me. So friendly, and full of rainbows, trolls, and…graffiti?

The whole city is covered in graffiti. Literally, the whole city.  Not just the sketchy areas, but the nice upscale buildings and houses. It was very jarring. Add to that the modern nature of it, and how very expensive everything was – including food – and I was not really a fan. If I ever return to Iceland, I’m spending as little time as possible in Reykjavik.

But the history here is the land, itself.  And what a land.

It is literally a land of ice and fire. The whole country is a mass of active volcanoes, and they have so much natural power from water and air, that they run their heaters full blast all winter long, and just open a few windows to regulate the temperature. Hot showers here are HOT, and plentiful.  The land steams, continually, from breaks in the earth. Driving, you see all these puffs of white vapor rising from the ground.

 

There is only variety of horse, and only one variety of sheep in Iceland, and these animals have perfectly adapted to life here. The sheep wander the hills and fields at will, eating Icelandic blueberries and flavoring their flesh into the best-tasting lamb in the world. Seriously. I was never much a fan of lamb until I tasted Icelandic lamb. Yum.

The beaches are black sand and basalt columns, and beyond gorgeous.

It’s a wild land, an overpowering land, and I admire the type of person who is able to make their home here. It wouldn’t be me. Last winter they had gale force winds almost every day for months…wind so strong it would pick up stones and smash them through your car windows. One tourist, driving against advice, had all the windows in his vehicle broken out, and by the time he made it back to his B&B, he was sitting in snow up to his waist.

I couldn’t be happy under those conditions. But I did love the land.

And the wild, lonely black beaches.

And how amazing it is to drive past volcanoes that could erupt at any moment, to see waterfalls, and glaciers.

And rainbows. Everywhere, rainbows.

 

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