Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Monday, 17 June 2013
Almost instantly you know that this is a country like no other. Well, there's good, strong and free Wifi at the airport for one thing... and then on the bus to Reykjavik too. This serves as an accurate introduction to Iceland's welcoming ways. They are deeply proud of their country; they want you to come and see it for yourself. They know you won't regret it and I now know they're right to think like this.
I've decided that it's going to be easier to use photos and small clusters of words, rather than long flowing prose that won't capture its impact on a person as well as I'd like no matter how hard I try.
Although I've only explored a fraction of the country (the most southeastern corner) I have inexplicable faith that these first impressions will stretch far enough to cover the rest of the country.
Iceland is consistently astonishing.
It is sparse and wonderfully full of space.
It is lunar.
It is raw.
It is wickedly lush.
It is unapologetically wild.
And both rocky and soft.
The weather is a constant contradiction. The big sky lets you view the contrasts that dance around as clouds.
Stormy yet calm. Cloudy but bright. Light and dark.
Iceland is warmer than it looks.
Iceland is savagely wild yet reassuringly safe; the country's most "dangerous" animal is the humble bumble bee.
What I noticed most about Iceland is how "new" it is. I think this is why I see so many similarities with New Zealand, because when it comes to the Earth's concept of time both countries are still newborn babies.
There is evidence of this everywhere in Iceland, the lava fields we walked along yesterday rumble along for miles searching for something but not knowing what.
The huge boulders and giant hills that emerged from volcanic eruptions (old and new) are evidence of a land that spat out its dummy and screamed at the top of its lungs in the most spectacular way as it endured a dramatic set of growing pains that lasted thousands of years. I think, geologically speaking, Iceland is just about calming down now and is starting to learn how to walk and talk as it grows. We know the country is growing by a few centimetres every day thanks to the shifting plates of Europe and America far beneath the land which are somewhat poignantly pulling apart a little all the time. And then there is the country's most recent volcanic activity which saw Heimay, one of the Westmann Islands, grow in size by a fifth some forty years ago. All of this means that Iceland will continue to move, to mould and to blossom into something more...
What I find most beautiful about this, in the saddest way, is that none of us will be around to see this...
Disclosure: My visit to Iceland was for Budget Traveller and was sponsored by WOWair, Bus Hostel in Reykjavik and South Iceland Adventure. My fascinated first impressions and everlasting happy memories are all my very own. They're completely mine; you can't have them.
Thursday, 13 June 2013
In the last few days I've had to cancel being at two friends' birthdays, a visit from my brother and his girlfriend and spending the day with a special girl I haven't seen for nearly a year. I feel rotten.
And then there's my short stories. The ones I have been tending to like newborn children, nursing them all day and all night on occasion. Thinking about them when I wake and falling asleep with their journeys on my mind. But I'm leaving the kids at home on their own for a while. It feels strange and wrong. It will certainly delay my schedule.
But I instantly knew this was an opportunity too sweet, too tempting, too dreamlike to turn down.
Because I'm off to Iceland. Today.
Iceland is a country I've long wanted to go to and I always knew my chances of going with NewMan anytime soon were limited (he's been there before) so when an email landed in my inbox with an offer as potentially tasty as chocolate, I decided to take a bite.
My interest in Iceland was heightened by a recent visit and photos by Olivia Rae James, a Charleston-based photographer who seemed to capture the country exactly how I imagined it, but with much more depth. These are her photos that I'm sharing, aren't they a bit magical? I wrote more about Olivia, her work and her passion for her home town for Travelettes. Her blog is one of my regular reads and I adore these stunning and atmospheric photos of Iceland.
I will be based in Reykjavik and with a small group of others I will be heading inland to explore Iceland's volcanoes. In fact, in the itinerary it was described to me as "volcano-hopping". As someone more accustomed to city-, beach- and disco-hopping, this will no doubt be a little different to my usual travel adventures.
But I look forward to changing my understanding of "adventure" travel.
I am grateful that I'll get a chance to see urban and rural Iceland side by side.
I am hopeful for dry weather that lets me explore Reykjavik's corners.
And I can't wait to experience a night of small darkness and a day of seemingly endless light.
I hope that you'll stick around and let me share the journey with you.
I'll be sharing photos and words about Iceland and hopefully not falling into volcanoes on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
My dream coming true is happening thanks to WOW Air and Bus Hostel in Reykjavik. I'm there on behalf of Budget Traveller (a seriously good resource for budget travel lovers).