Iceland: A Different Kind of Paradise
“Iceland?! Why would you want to go to Iceland?”
I was asked this question a thousand times before leaving last week and my answer was quite simple: Northern Lights and puffins.
I can see why many questioned my choice of destination, as this Texas girl considers anything under 60 degrees freezing. The possibility of being cold AND wet? That’s quite literally my personal definition of torture.
SPOILER ALERT: As it turns out, due to weather conditions we never saw the Northern Lights and weren’t able to snuggle puffins. Iceland literally met none, and yet somehow exceeded every single expectation I had.
Here’s a recap of some of my favorite places and the lessons I learned.
From the moment I stepped off the plane I became completely blind to the weather raging around me.
The connection I felt to the energy here was so overwhelming that it lit a fire strong enough to keep me from hating life in the intense elements for the next five days.
After breakfast and introductions at The Laundromat Café, we ventured off to explore the city of Rekyjavik. First stop, the church Hallgrimskirkja. It was crazy windy at the top, but the view of the city was totally worth it. We wandered around the harbor for a bit before heading to the Icelandic Bar for some rotted shark.
I didn’t necessarily want to try it, but I knew I needed to try something new. When in Iceland, right?! Result: It smells much worse than it tastes. If you ever try it, definitely opt for the chaser shot of Brenevin. Trust me on that one.
We made our way to the amazing Hotel Fljotshlio Smaratun Farm Resort, where we settled in and had dinner. The rest of the evening was all about community.
Witnessing strangers bond so quickly is one of my favorite things in the world.
- My tombstone may not read “Death by Icelandic Winter” after all
- Always opt to try new things, even if they smell less than savory
- There’s apparently some kind of unexplainable correlation between people that love to travel and people with amazing talent for singing and dancing to Disney songs
The Golden Circle
This was the day my love affair with travel photography officially became a full blown passion.
There is no bigger thrill for me than venturing to the edge for an incredible shot, and there is nothing more magical than doing so on top of a waterfall in Iceland. Thingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss Waterfall offered a million perfect opportunities for both.
Life’s best served on the rocks.
Take a risk every now and then, you just might experience something amazing. As much as I wanted to comply with the “do not climb” and “do not cross” signs, I needed to wander.
- I have an uncontrollable adverse reaction to warning signs and ropes
- Geysers respond to sports-like chanting, the Northern Lights do not
- I ventured to the edge for the perfect shot, and instead found a perfect passion
Skogafoss Waterfall Hike
As we walked up to Skogafoss I turned to one of my new friends, and said “This place is my playground.”
By this point, I was convinced Iceland was created specifically for me. I experienced one of the most centered and spiritually connected moments of my entire life on a ledge at the Skogafoss Waterfall. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was where I needed to go to take a moment to be alone and fully present. It was an experience that I will never forget.
I knew there was no way I’d ever be able to verbalize the view from up there, and wanted to take a quick video. I realized that I didn’t have my phone on me, and saw the look on the person’s face who did. I knew he was concerned with me being on the ledge, and would NOT be excited about bringing it to me.
Just as badly as I wanted my phone, I wanted even more to pull him out of his safe space so that he could experience the same view that I was. Watching him overcome his own fear just to do a favor for me was even more impactful than the view itself. In that moment, I discovered how much I love helping people get out of their comfort zone in the name of adventure.
Little did I know, I needed that experience far more than I wanted that footage.
- It is possible to make authentic lifelong friendships in 48 hrs
- I found purpose in watching someone else overcome their fears
- Being present is more important than getting the perfect shot
Wow. Just wow.
The vastness and purity of the landscape at the Solheimajokull Glacier is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. My vision of paradise had always included warm climates, this glacier immediately changed that. This place is a different kind of paradise. Our guide quickly figured out that I was the rogue adventurer of the group, and kept me on a short leash. I wanted to wander, I needed to be humbled.
- Crampons are just as humbling as the Glacier itself – a few witnessed me gracefully trip and fall
- The number of jokes that can be made about crampons is endless
- Perhaps I’m not as mature as I thought
Other Notable Places
Secret Waterfall at Seljalandsfoss
I’m fairly certain this place is where magic comes from.
The Black Sand Beach
No filter, no lie.
What did I get out of Iceland?
None of the things I wanted, and everything I never knew I needed.