SUMMER IN ICELAND
In an effort to reminisce about my wonderful summer trip to Iceland and to cure a mean case of wanderlust, I decided to finally share a little of my visit to the beautiful country. There is no way to completely capture the place with words (I’m sure other, better writers could) and even photographs don’t do it justice, but I shall try my best. Iceland is unbelievable. Every time I’m asked to describe my visit to the small but diverse island it’s the one word that comes to mind, unbelievable. I was there, I have photos, and it’s still hard to believe that it is real. The landscape is striking and made all the more incredible in contrast to the varied topography found in this small country. Volcanos sit beside massive glaciers. Snow transitions into moss which abruptly changes to black sand. It's UNBELIEVABLE.
My trip began in the capital city of Reykjavik, where most trips to the country do. My flight from the US was on WOW Air, which is a pretty great budget option (they often have $99 fares), and you can use their cheap flights to get into Europe with a stopover in Reykjavik. The red-eye I took from BWI landed at 5:30am in Iceland. This early arrival time is great if you have limited time to discover the island. For me, staying awake until my room was ready for check-in proved difficult. I managed well enough by packing the first half of the day with activities, but there was a brief moment in a cozy café that I thought I wouldn't last. My tips for staying awake that first day...caffeine overload and a step outside into the chilly Icelandic air. Both will sober you right up.
Tourism is alive and well in Iceland, making Reykjavik an easy place to visit. You will notice that most people (non-Icelanders) are layered in athletic gear. For many visitors, it’s just the jumping off point for a tour of the country. The city center is small, colorful, and unpretentious, and warrants a few days of exploring. If you are into architecture, I particularly enjoyed a visit to Harpa, the modern concert hall. Also, an obligatory visit to the top of Hallgrímskirkja will provide you with a great birds eye view of the city.
During an early morning walking tour of Reykjavik, I learned that a local blues musician was playing a show during my stay. It was highly recommended, and I decided to check it out on a whim. At the very least if the music was terrible, I would have a good story. It turns out that the musician, Mugison, is amazing and the show was the highlight of my time in the city. Iceland boasts a healthy and original music scene, and I encourage you to take advantage of your time there to discover a new artist.
Following my stay in Reykjavik, I departed on a four day group hike of the Laugavegur trek. It’s a popular hike through a varied landscape with nights spent in mountain huts. It was the thing I was most looking forward to during my trip, and it did not disappoint. The group was lively and fun, the guide knowledgeable and patient, and the terrain and views breathtaking. I plan on writing a longer post on my experience during the hike, but for now these photos will have to do. I cannot recommend this hike enough.
Although very popular and by no means off the beaten path, the Laugavegur trek allows you to escape the crowds you will find at sites along the Ring Road. Iceland has a short summer, which means tourist season is concentrated. The farther you go from the city and main road, the more peaceful it will be.
SOUTH COAST- REYKJAVIK TO HOF
The remainder of my trip to Iceland was spent driving along the southern coast visiting waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, and towns along the way. The final stop was Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where I took a boat through the most beautiful iceberg filled waters. I never expected it to be so dramatic. The whole lake sparkled and the blue green colors were mesmerizing. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and along with a seal sighting, the perfect finish to my trip.