Inspired by all this snow I wanted to write about somewhere I had been that epitomises this. Surprisingly, considering I am such a lover of cold and winter, I have discovered there aren’t that many places I have been too. Aside from my annual ski trips, the only other two that spring to mind are a recent weekend in Stockholm and, of course, Iceland.
I am actually genuinely surprised while writing this at how few trips involving the cold I have been on. My first instinct is to look into trips into Alaska, which has been on my radar for a while. As well as Slovenia, Antartica and Finland. Why has this big hole in my travel radar just occurred to me? And how soon can I raise the funds and find the time to rectify? Not even joking. Recommendations please.
Anyway I digress. I am not going to claim I am an expert in travelling to Iceland and I certainly haven’t been or done many of the touristy things there. I can’t write a list on the top things to do in Iceland or give any recommendations on where to stay. However these two trips have been some of the most wonderful I have been on. And I am lucky in that I have two very knowledgeable guides when I do go. My best friend lives in Iceland and so her, and her Icelandic partner, give me a very unique insight into this wonderful country.
When I have visited it has been partly about seeing the country, but mainly about cups of tea, long walks and catch ups and for me that is even better.
The first time I went to visit, for a long weekend, it was in June and my mind was blown by the 24 hour daylight. We were in a bar at midnight and I just couldn’t get over how it was still light outside! First time I had ever experienced that phenomena.
I was treated to my own personal guide taking me on one of the glaciers, can’t describe how grateful I am for this! It even involved him producing gin out of his backpack and chipping tiny bits of ice of the glacier to chill – I mean could it get any more perfect? The landscape reminded me of Lord of the Rings, and after a bit of research I learnt that Iceland did in fact inspire Tolkien (note the names of the Dwarves). As a big lover of the books and films, this bit of trivia greatly pleased me.
I was also taken to see beautiful waterfalls and Iceland’s famous plane crash on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. These are both must sees! All in all a great first trip and introduction into the country.
When I returned again last month, it was now very much winter and there was so much snow! The days were short and I was in heaven.
This again was a very relaxed trip with even more cups of tea, if that was even possible, as well as Reindeer pate and mulled wine.
We ventured into Reykjavik and I saw the famous church for the first time. We also had delicious salted caramel ice cream in what was, until recently, the bus station. It has now been converted into a food market and definitely worth a look – I took cookies to bring home and am assured the Lobster sandwich is amazing (as a non-fish eater myself, I will take his word for it).
The highlight of the trip was a walk around a frozen lake. This was the first time I had walked on a frozen lake, and I got incredibly (this may be an understatement) excited at this prospect. I am told this lake was somewhere only the locals know about and that makes it even more special.
We did bundle ourselves into the car one evening at 11pm and drive around to try and see the Northern Lights, but no luck. I didn’t mind, after all that wasn’t the reason I came to visit, it would have just been a nice bonus.
The best thing about Iceland for me, aside from seeing my best friend, is that I know I will go back again and again. And each time I hope to see a little bit more. I will make it to the Blue Lagoon eventually!!! Plus the ever elusive Northern Lights.
But Iceland represents something different for me. It’s not about ticking off things from a list, or about seeing as much as I can in a few days, which is something I am often guilty of. These trips for me were just about enjoying being there and wanting nothing more than that. And actually, that’s a pretty bloody great way to get to know a place.