Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice, well known for its stunning natural beauty, marks one stop in a series of travel adventures around the world. Joanne and I tackle Ice Caves to Waterfalls, Glacier walks, roadside horses, and wrestle the occasional local foods along the way.
Iceland – Mostly Ice
When my fiancé and I got together we talked about all the places we’d wanted to see together. Since she was a child she’d always wanted to go to Iceland. Photos of ice caves and snow capped mountainous regions filled her imagination. We did a bit of research and decided to take a trip. I did a bit of internet digging and seriously, the place looked magical.
We decided that end of January 2016 was going to be the time we wanted to travel. It was said to be the perfect time to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). That time of year also meant we’d have shorter amounts of daylight. I thought, what a great chance to see what four to five hours of lasting sunset would look like. As a filmmaker, those sunsets are always so beautiful to capture.
So we filled our bags with layers and layers of warm clothes, sightseeing information, passports, and a thirst for adventure. Meanwhile I jammed a bag with my Canon 5D3 two zoom lenses and a DJI Osmo. There was a fine line of taking photos and filming stuff on this personal trip but after the memories I brought home I realized I would never travel without that stuff. Ever.
The adventure begins – Our destinations
At the airport, most passengers getting off the plane we were to board all seemed to be sick. Sadly we had to sit in that infested tube for a few hours and by the time we arrived in Keflavik, we’d both come down with a cold. 101 degree fevers that stayed with us over the course of the 5 days we spent in the capital of Reykjavik and throughout our travels farther east towards the ice caves.
The weather was so cold however, the fever seemed oddly enough to keep us feeling somewhat balanced with the freezing air temperature. Sickness or not, we had places to see! Our list included the city of Reykjavik with its hodge podge of restaurants (our favorite ended up being The Old Iceland Restaurant), The great little shops throughout the city, the church called Hallgrimskirkja, and the concert hall named Harpa.
During our wanderings we came across the statue of the sun voyager at a pretty beautiful time of day. While driving around the city (4 wheel drive of course) we discovered the Glass domed restaurant called Perlan. It looked more like an observatory from the distance. The restaurant has since moved but its with the trip just to see the view of the city.
Although a popular destination, we decided to skip the obligatory trip to the famous Blue Lagoon, While sick, neither of us felt like stewing in that water with other people. The peak adventure destinations for our trip were the Ice caves at Vatnajokull which sat about a 5 hour drive from Reykjavik, The Gullfoss waterfall, the geothermal field named Geysir and an attempt at catching the Northern Lights somehow.
Geysir was impressive. A short walk off the main road with steam and water erupting from the ground in several places. Although crawling with tourists it was worth taking a peak. The Gullfoss waterfall was nothing short of majestic. It’s by far the biggest water fall I’ve ever seen. Also a place with several tourists but is a must visit. We spent a bit of time here just admiring the view.
Ring Road – A trip to the Ice Caves
On to the Ice Cave. The drive along the Ring Road on the south of the island transported me into another world. For miles on end the landscape, snow covered and rushing with wind, the sun at a constant low seemed like I was on a frozen alien planet. It was foreign and absolutely beautiful. The drive alone was its own attraction. Add to that, practically not another vehicle on the road for hours on end, it was the most peaceful drive I’ve had in a long time.
After the long ride we came upon a tiny shack, seemingly in the middle of nowhere which was the meeting point for the guides and their monster truck inspired passenger vans. After a quick coffee and trip to the restroom (5 hours on the road is no joke) we jumped into the passenger vans and drove off road for 30 minutes and up a glacier. We jumped out and put spikes on our shoes just to walk across the ice.
That morning a fresh hole was dug out for the tourists to descend into the cave. The deafening winter winds that were blowing us across the glacier fell to silence once we descended into the ice. The cave was wondrous. Icy blue translucent walls over 900 years old surrounded us. We walked in deeper and eventually had to crawl to enter another room inside the cave. Sadly, filled with tourists we were pushed on a schedule, but completely worth the trip.
The final round up
Our final days we spent trying to chase the Northern Lights. Because weather was a huge factor, our trip was delayed a few times and finally on the second to last night of our stay the sky was clear enough. We took a boat tour (bad for long exposure photos) and finally caught a small glimpse of how beautiful the colors were in the sky.
Sadly, after several days of sightseeing and wishing we’d extended our trip, I knew a future trip would have to be planned but during the summer season. Mostly because the Island seems to transform itself into a lush green with much longer daylight hours. Seemingly a completely different experience. Personally, I’d like to travel to the Northern Fjords. We’ll see about that for next time.
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