Recently a Freaky Foody’s friend – Zach from Greece – went to Iceland…and we were so courious about this country that we asked him to share with all of us something about his experience!
Enjoy the reading!
“You must be crazy!” These were the first words that came out of my mouth when my best friend announced me that he and his girlfriend were planning a trip to Iceland and they were looking for fellow travelers. “It’s going to cost a lot of money!” “Don’t worry, everything is planned. Just tell me if you’ll join us and buy your flight tickets.” This was it. The trip had already been scheduled!
The idea of a trip to northern Europe was always appealing to me, not only because it’s full of stunning landscapes and natural beauty, but also because I had the feeling that it would be different from all my travel experiences so far and that I would be able to collect lifetime images in my mind once and forever. Definitely not wishful thinking, considering the recommendations of other people who had visited Iceland before.
My trip took place on the beginning of April and I flew from Barcelona to Reykjavik (approximately a 4-hour flight) in order to meet my friends Panos, Tasos and Eleni. From the very first moment, after landing to Keflavik (National Airport of Iceland) I felt the different energy that prevails in this part of the world and I immediately got in an adventurous mood. Iceland is not the kind of destination that is overwhelmed by mass tourism, at least not until now. However, the presence of foreign travelers is notable taking into account that we speak about a country with a population of less than 350.000 inhabitants, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. We headed off to Reykjavik, where we spent our first two nights. Even though it was April, I wouldn’t dare to take a walk around the city without my gloves and scarf. Everything was freezing around. During our first night out in the capital we realized that the price range makes it almost forbidden to have a second drink in the bars. A beer starts from 1400 Króna (more than 12 euros!) at any pub. But I must admit that locals are way more friendly and jovial than I was expecting. And on a Saturday night you can find plenty of noisy and interesting places around.
On Sunday morning we started our mini tour to the renowned area of the Golden Circle, which encompasses some of the most impressive natural tourist attractions in Iceland and in the whole world. We walked between the tectonic plates that link North America with Europe in the Thingvellir National Park and took our first glimpse of what was about to come in terms of natural landscapes. Later on we headed to the geothermal field of Geysir and there we found Strokkur. A natural boiling cauldron which throws up water impetuously in the sky every few minutes. The heavy rain that was falling did not stop us from reaching the imposing and famous waterfalls of Gullfoss (translated means Golden falls) which gave me the opportunity to see for the first time in my life such a huge waterfall split into a three-level “staircase”. Definitely amazing. As the day was ending and we were already tired from this long tour we decided to try something more smooth and relaxing and there was nothing better than the Blue Lagoon experience, a volcanic natural spa with healing thermal waters. The sense of swimming in a volcanic bath at a foggy scenery with ice and rocks all around feels like living in a piece of paradise that has fallen to earth. Simply priceless.
The next morning we had to leave Reykjavik behind and move to the south. Many visitors consider that is reckless to try a road trip around the island, during the winter months, because of the unpredictable weather changes and the severe phenomena that occasionally happen but we were determined to continue. For us the adventure had just begun! We drove a few miles southeast under a slight snowstorm until we reached our first stop: The impressive waterfall of Seljalandsfoss. The scenery was magical. We found ourselves in a white from the snow plain and in front of us a fall coming from a high hill. My friends followed the trail that leads behind the falls into a hatch while I stayed watching the view from the outside (I had no choice since I would become completely wet without waterproof clothing!). Another waterfall was expecting us a few miles more to the east. The popular Skógafoss. This place was a pleasure for the eyes. We climbed some stairs into a small platform to see the waterfall from above and we felt amazed from the natural treasure that was dominating the whole area. After Skógafoss it was time to get to the south coasts and the Black Sand Beach, regarded as one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. We roamed through the basalt sand and for a moment thought that we were somewhere in the moon. The whole experience was getting even more interesting as we were watching the sun going down and the enormous waves of the sea crashing on the rocks. Before the sunset we had already reached the village of Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland and stayed watching the lush green area accompanied by some spectacular views of the north Atlantic.
Our plans to continue the trip towards the east (and probably most beautiful) part of the island toppled after an emergency warning signal by the local authorities in the area due to extreme winds. We had to reschedule our program, but we did not quail. We took the chance to explore another attraction around the area that shocked us with its epic scenery. The DC3 plane wreckage. An abandoned aircraft of the US navy that lies near the beach since 1973 after a forced landing and gives a weird, almost mysterious, look to the whole site. Happily, we got informed that the crew survived the crash and we put ourselves in their shoes for a while by exploring the plane’s cabin and walking along the beach. Since no other choice had left, we headed to the north by following the same ring road we used when starting from Reykjavik adding two new stops in our way. The port town of Akranes with its scenic lighthouses and the Hraunfossar falls, a series of waterfalls in a rocky and glacial landscape, both of them on the west side of Iceland. Especially, the last one truly left its mark on me with its astonishing views and the colors of the sky as the sunset was glowing and caressing my face. A good reason to keep that moment deeply engraved on my memory.
The time had come to discover the great sights of the north and emerge ourselves in another adventure. We started from the spectacular Godafoss (literally means the fall of the Gods) and admired its breathtaking natural beauty just by taking photos at the edge of a rock next to the waterfall. It is said that this place is of particular importance for the Icelanders due to a special event that took place there many centuries ago when the chieftain of the region was entrusted to decide whether the Christianity should be adopted in Iceland. After the decision had been officially taken he threw into the waterfall all the pagan statues. From this event derive its name. Next stop was the geothermal area of Namafjall, a miracle of nature in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly we entered a field full of steam and hot spring smell and took the chance to capture some really impressive images. Close to this area is located the caldera of the Krafla volcano which made us whiteness the incredible geothermal power that resides beneath the ice and many of our queries immediately got solved about the morphology of this place. The heavy snow did not allow us to stay for more there. So, we went towards our last destination for the day. The mighty waterfall of Dettifoss or in other words the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Once there it takes you only a few moments to feel its fascinating charm as dozens of tons of water are poured constantly into the nearby river coming from the waterfall and you get to think how weak you really are in front of the nature’s greatness.
The day after we left back to Reykjavik (an approximately 5-hour drive) where we spent the rest of our time on the island. There are no words to describe my feelings a little before I leave this country. So complete, but at the same time, so nostalgic for what I had just experienced. There are some stories that we never want to end and this one was certainly one of those. Simply because when you least expect it life keeps for you the strongest emotions, the greatest adventures.