This adventure was our long-awaited honeymoon, but wilder still is how long it took me to not just blog it, but even to dig deep into the magic and wonder of these images. At that time my life was a little bit frenzied and business was just kicking up. As a result, these images have sat on the backburner for far too long. In the spirit of sharing adventure and dreaming of far-off places, I invite you, dear wanderluster, to join me as we kick off the story of our Scandinavian journey, beginning with our first country in the tour, Iceland, and all its wonderful soul, spirit, and surprises.
We kicked off our trip in Iceland’s capital city (and where literally half of its entire population lives. Despite being an entire country that has only about 1/5 the population of the city of San Diego, Reykjavik feels just as urban, just as vibrant, just as intriguing, and filled with just as many compelling shops, cafes, museums, restaurants, nooks, crannies… and stray cats.
Cozied up in the cutest Airbnb rental with the cutest cat, we made home base and found ourselves basically walking distance from everything, from the famed Hallgrimskirkja, to amazing vegan restaurants (my fave would be Bergsson Mathus), authentic Icelandic hot dogs (their condiments ain’t like home), and our personal fave, Lebowski Bar. Note that this vegetarian had no problems finding things to eat out there. We were a bit nervous, but even outside the big cities I did just fine.
The opera house was everything we could have dreamed of in wildly modern and inspired architecture. I could have spent all day at the Harpa Concert Hall, no problem. the lines and the structures and the angles and the mountains and the water. Oy.
After a fun few days in the city, we set off on a trek to the Golden Circle, which is comprised of Þingvellir, Gullfoss, the Kerid crater, and Geysir. It’s really, really easy to get to from the city, and features some dramatically lovely Icelandic landscapes (geysers, a giant waterfull, and an enormous natural park). If you don’t have the time to tour Iceland’s ring road, I promise you can get to some amazing things pretty easily from the city. While we rented our own car to be on our own time, we definitely saw plenty of tour shuttles.
One of the most startling aspects of Iceland is how everything is utterly uncontrolled and largely untouched, even despite modern tourism. When you go to a waterfall or geyser there aren’t giant fences and gates and turnstiles and money-takers. You can walk right up to the edge of anything. Sometimes a sign warns of high heights or intense heat, but that’s about it. This is a country you can experience in an incredibly honest and authentic way. This is not designed for phony tourism. It’s just natural amazing and still so accessible.
Now for Kerid (or Kerið in Icelandic). This crater is magic, nuff said.
Geysir is why we call geysers geysers. So you know it’s going to be legit. It was worth the wait to see some of the wild action don’t expect it to go off upon arrival!), though not all parts of geysir are still erupting. We hiked the hills behind it as well and found so much magic. Everything, everywhere. We were just constantly dazzled.
On to Gulfoss waterfall. This is probably one of the more tourist-oriented places in this region simply because they built a cafe nearby. But yeah, you can walk right up to the falls. In fact there’s a whole path right along the edge that has a bit of rope. You could hop it, if you wanted. I mean, don’t. But you could. We were basically alone the whole time save one other person that showed up. And that’s more or less reflective of everywhere we explored in this impossibly otherworldly country.
So that’s chapter one, a glimpse into our first few days in the country of ice and fire. Next chapter coming soon—the southern ring road, more waterfalls, more epic landscapes, a crashed US bomber plane, black sand beaches, a glacier, glacial lagoons, horseback riding, and lots and lots AND LOTS of sheep. Stay tuned!