Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Iceland


At the beginning of April this year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Iceland, a trip I had been eagerly awaiting for the best part of 3 years. I went for a total of 5 days, and have absolutely no doubt that I’ll go again someday. Whilst in Iceland, it was difficult to picture anywhere that rivalled its natural beauty. Almost as soon as we landed we were whisked off by our coach guide from Discover the World to a place that I can only describe as paradise. Nestled among the lava fields was an expanse of water so blue it made my breath catch in my throat when I saw it. I suppose the name ‘Blue Lagoon’ makes perfect sense really. 


After a brief clash of cultures, we made it through the changing rooms relatively unscathed. Once in the naturally heated water it was impossible to think anything but happy thoughts. Floating about in such warm water was so relaxing that time seemed to stand still. If it weren't for my watch I’d have missed the coach back to the hotel, an entirely possible scenario, as two members of our group soon found out. On the first evening, a small group of us went for a walk along the coastal path as it was getting dark. Looking out at the sea, with snow-capped mountains in the not so distant distance was phenomenal. It’s not exactly a sight that I am familiar with in my everyday life.



The next day in Iceland was packed full of beaches, waterfalls and glacier walking. After setting off bright and early to meet with our tour guide Ragnar, who was to be our insight into all aspects of the weird and wonderful Icelandic culture, we stopped off at Seljalandsfoss, a stunning waterfall towering 60 metres. It was an unfortunate time to discover the inadequacy of a particular pair of waterproofs but soggy trousers were a small price to pay for the incredible experience of walking completely behind the waterfall itself. The next stop was Skogafoss, an equally fantastic waterfall made all the more incredible by the sense of achievement we all felt after walking the 429 steps to reach the top. But before we knew it, we had to return to the coach in order to reach Solheimajokull in time for our bout of glacier walking. Fitted with waterproofs, helmets and crampons, we set off onto the glacier spending two hours completely overcome with the bizarre reality of walking on top of a mass of moving ice in the middle of what seemed like nowhere.



The next two days were just as surreal. We walked along black sand beaches; climbed to the top of a volcanic crater; smelt the sweet scent of sulphur and watched in awe as a geysir bubbled and erupted before us. One particular highlight was caving in Leidarendi. Few of us had ever done anything like it before. Armed with only a head-torch, we descended into a dark abyss, where we crawled, climbed, and fell through former lava tunnels. We not only learnt more about the geological history of that part of Iceland, but also were treated to fascinating (and terrifying) examples of Icelandic mythology. At one point, we were made to turn out all the lights and await the arrival of the carnivorous 'Unkind' monster, who was presumably dying to meet us. All in all, Iceland was an extremely incredible assault to the senses.


The last day, which is always a sad time, was greatly improved by the prospect of some shopping. A small group of us decided to get up extra early to go swimming in a local pool (complete with water slide and hot tub). Despite the 'pool police' (two women that sit in the shower area to ensure that people are 'truly clean'), the hour there was great fun, and attempting an assault course intended for children is definitely something to remember! Our time in Reykjavik was also great. The view from the church tower was really quite something, if a little windy, and the numerous shops selling everything from fridge magnets to animal furs were lovely to go into. Overall, Iceland was amazing and I would most definitely recommend it for anyone who's thinking of going in the future.

xx


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