Traveling has always been a passion of mine, and I prefer the unique or unusual destination, the kind of place that most people wouldn’t think of going to. Iceland is one of those countries, mainly because of its location halfway between Europe and North America close to the Arctic Circle. It has a long and interesting history, and started the oldest elected parliament in the world, originally called the Althing. The original inhabitants of Iceland came over on Viking ships around the year 874, and brought the traditional Norse mythology with them. Elves and Trolls are still part of popular myth in the country, which is quite interesting.
Getting to Iceland is actually quite easy today because of Iceland Airlines, which offers direct flights from several cities in the United States. They also offer special packages with established tours and accommodations for a short 3 night stay, or for much longer. Interested in a 4 night trip over Thanksgiving, they have a package specifically for that! You can actually plan your whole trip including any optional tours that you would like to take just by going to the IcelandAir website.
Available tours include options such as snowmobile tours on a glacier, 4 wheel drive expeditions into the rugged and uninhabited interior, Icelandic Pony rides, Puffin sightseeing trips, waterfall tours, and a variety of other choices… Iceland is a very beautiful country, and I would go back in a second. Most people will visit in the summertime because that is the warmest time of year by far, and because of the country’s proximity to the Arctic Circle the hours of daylight drop to just a few hours a day in the other seasons. You will have more options open to you in the summer, including a short trip to Greenland if you’re interested. Legend has it that they switched the names for the two places, because they wanted to keep Iceland to themselves and everyone else would head to Greenland to settle. It could be just a legend, but you never know!
The fall and winter seasons also have their charm, and if you are there over the holidays for Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas they may have special packages and dinners to accommodate you. Be ready for very cold weather though, as the wind blows down from the north and it hits you like a brick wall if you don’t have the right clothing. However, that is one of the charms of the country because of the warm geo-thermal springs and spas all over the country. Outdoor swimming in naturally heated pools is a big attraction here, and also naturally heated spas. One of these is located near Reykjavik and is called Blue Lagoon. It is a huge outdoor natural pool with steam rising all around you, and even though it’s only 10 degrees outside you are all warm and toasty because of the hot tub like water. It isn’t all uniform in temperature either, some places are definitely hotter than others and it is interesting to say the least as you make your way around the vast expanses. They have natural sand that is supposed to soothe your skin and make you younger looking if you rub it into your face and body, and that is a very popular attraction here. This is a must do when you come to Reykjavik, and you’ll come away feeling very refreshed.
Take at least one city tour of Reykjavik also, and try some of the local varieties of food. I found that I really love Icelandic food, and they use a lot of natural fowl and other unusual ingredients in their cooking. Ever tasted reindeer? How about aged and fermented shark that is allowed to rot over a few months? That one I wouldn’t advise! However, you really want to give the desserts a whirl, especially something called Skyr which is awesome! It is made with cream and sugar, and very tasty! Don’t be one of those people that goes to a different country and heads straight to the local McDonald’s, be adventurous and try everything that they have! Breakfast in Iceland is one of my favorites; they will usually have several plates of cold meats and cheeses, and of course cold, raw fish. It really is delicious, and I fell in love with pickled herring while I was there!
I crammed a lot of touring and options into my short trip, and at the end I was very disappointed to leave… I only got a taste of this wonderful country, but I can guarantee you that I’ll be back sometime later! I hope you’ll give Iceland a try also, take a walk on the wild side! Have fun!