My eyes first blinked open at 3am, then 4am, then 4.03am, it was time to get up. I had more time to sleep but I felt rested and ready to get up, even though I had closed my book and reading light at 11pm. Sometimes you just don’t need as much sleep. When your days are exciting and full of new adventures then every waking moment is enjoyable. I started by booking a few hostels and flights for the next few weeks of my journey, mainly for Germany and Turkey. I love it when I can book things easily, after weeks of intense thinking and planning, I book quickly and efficiently, and bang I am organised and all my ducks are back in a row. But first, I was in Iceland and I had a big day out planned to see as much of the country as I could physically cram into one day. My chosen tour company Bus Travel collected me from out front of Kex hostel by 7.30am, and we were away for a full day of touring. My guide Kalli had been in tourism most of his life, so he was an expert at answering my pestering questions. He also guides groups in Trips to Greenland, or Northern Explorer where you can find his information. I am also very keen to go to Greenland on my next trip, dog sledding and ice walks and amazing scenery abound.
He was a good sport as my energy peaked and waned through the day. Fuelled by my new addiction, dark chocolate covered sultanas, Icelandic style; I cracked jokes and kept my driver in light spirits for most of the journey. Minus when I dosed off; much to his delight I think, giving the poor mans ears a rest. I learnt a few facts along the way; 95% of homes are heated by geothermal heat created naturally in Iceland. They do not use coal or nuclear power at all, so very good environmentally. I think they should rename this place Hot Land due to all the naturally heated bubbling springs, I wish I had more time to get into every single one!
Ignoring the intermittent drenching drizzle, the scenery was spectacular. Icelandic horses grazed in the green meadows as we drove along the southern part of the ring road circling the island. Long haired, tail waving, munching on grass and relaxing, they were mostly chocolate brown and caramel tan in colour with a cute strip of white splashing their noses. 320’000 people live in Iceland, annually receiving over 1.2 million tourists every year. Tourism is one of the biggest industries followed closely by Fishing, Dairy and Aluminium. The soil in most parts is covered by hard lava lumps, making fruit and vegetable growth almost impossible. Most of their fresh produce is imported from other parts of Europe. My obsession with the northern lights continued in Iceland, as the possibility of a show was high in this region. However, sadly it was not to be yet again. We can simply imagine sitting outside bathing in a natural open hot spring late at night, watching the lights perform their wonder in the night sky. Apparently the best time of the year to see this magical natural performance is between October to March, anytime from 10pm to 5am. Throw in some luck and you just might get that magic colourful picture!
We made our way out to Glacier Lagoon, driving 370km to reach our destination. Once there we climbed aboard a boat/truck, let’s call it a ‘troat’ and clambered not so gracefully into the glacier lake. From there we saw many amazing chunks of ice. I even ate a piece of 1000 year old frozen water! Now you do not get to do that every day! The scenery never failed to impress. Lumpy green lava rocks, smothered in green lichen moss, with massive snow covered mountains and volcanoes in the distance. From 1783, volcanic ash destroyed a huge part of the southern vegetation, leaving behind these unusual undulating mossy lumps. I found them to be most unusual, and lovely to photograph. Iceland really is a beautiful country. It has inspired me to return another time and perhaps drive all around the island. Allowing about 10 days should be enough time to see all the obvious scenic attractions, 3 weeks and you can really start to unwind, take some mountain walks and meander off the beaten path.
Our last stop was Skogafoss waterfall. Epic in size and power, the cascading falls against a green apple coloured mountain really was impressive. I snapped away happily then jumped back into the warmth of the van, ready to return to Reykjavik. My two days in Iceland sped by so fast. I wished I had longer to explore and relax in this foreign land. The good news is I can always come back! Kali was also encouraging me to visit Greenland. He runs tours there throughout the year. Enticing stories about dog sledding, boat rides, and sleeping out in tents under the dark night sky, with high northern lights potential sure did sound good to me. If you get a chance to check it out before me go to his website a Trip to Greenland. I will be flying out to the UK for the next part of my journey. Visiting a friend in Manchester, then driving through Wales and visiting another friend in South Hampton, more awesome activities to look forward to! I have also decided to go sailing in Turkey towards the end of my trip, it will be great to get some heat and a tan before I head home to a Perth. Until next time, adios amigos! Anita xx “Iceland: the land of elves and vikings, beauty ice and hot springs, a land of contrasts!” ~ A.Ozolins