Monday, 24 September 2012

Iceland: a different planet down to Earth


extremely old lava formation (300 years old), 34 active volcanoes, the largest glacier of Europe (Vatnajökull), violent gushes of hot water directly from the centre of the earth, mix it all together, and you´ll get Iceland.

Landscape on Reykjavik's volcano

Thorsmork and the Trolls
 A land of extreme contrasts where painters, photographers, or visual artists in general, might go completely out of their minds. I can guarantee you :þ
Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Skogafoss rainbowed waterfalls :-)

You´ll go through forgotten gravel roads, crossing rivers (hold your breath), watching giant lava pinnacles sticking out of deep blue sea, herds of (many black) sheep and Icelandic horses dotting the emerald green hills, icebergs floating on a lagoon, boiling hot springs, geysers erupting 3 mt high hot water fountains, and amazing wooden cottages. Nurturing the eye, the mind, and mostly the desire to enjoy untouched nature stretches.

Waterfall's spray effect! The water does not touch the ground!

This snap reveals why Vik is by far my favourite spot on Iceland.

Lava beach at Vik

This what I have seen and experienced in a 13-day trip around the island with Stefi and Norman.
Meeting a lot of interesting people on the way, among whom a lot of Germans... For a moment I thought I stepped on the wrong plane. But after a while I could also spot some travellers of other nationalities and bashful locals.

These two guys discouraged 7 sturdy tourists from going all the way up to Skaftafell waterfalls.
No joking: learn how to make eye contact with rams before you trespass their territory.

Vatnajökull glacier

Expedition on Vatnajökull with a local mountain guide

Throughout the 4,000 km we ate up on the way, we have seen a different natural landscapes that changed every 5 km, possibly resembling any country you might have visited before: New Zealand, USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Alaska. Or if you have been lucky enough the Moon, or Mars!

It is pretty difficult to estimate distance on Iceland as something like a mountain or a volcano that looks very close, can instead be several kilometres away.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Driving off Dettifoss -Myvatn-

It is funny how every stretch could look like something you have already seen, but it is in fact totally different as Iceland parted from the main continent some 20 million years ago, and was in the beginning uninhabited. Then the Vikings from Norway decided to settle. Funny thing: they talk about settlers because, allegedly the island was only inhabited by fauna not by human beings. So technically the Vikings were no colonisers...

The locals descend from Irish and Norse Vikings who started settling on the Iceland and people´s surnames are actually patronymics ending in son and dóttir.

Hallgrímskirkju -Reykjavik-

People on Iceland are friendly and helpful, I guess because the weather makes life difficult, and some human touch is necessary sometimes.

As a vegetarian, I cannot really say much about local food, as it consists mainly of stews, and dried or rotten fish.
Junk food rifles here, but I cannot remember a single McDonald's. And now I know why. Junk food can help you save money, (but not your liver) as it is the only cheap food you can find around. If you dare...

A modern alternative to Icelandic snacks
 All in all this 13 day trip has been a lot more surprising than what I thought. Iceland can really make you feel at peace with nature which can be rough as well as extremely generous.

The finishing touch of the holiday was the sudden green-lighted sky on the last night at Reykjavik. The phenomena known as northern lights, or polar lights is simply stunning.

These great shots are by Stefi.

Takk Fyrir Ísland! :)