Totally captivated by the surreal beauty of Iceland! Forget about landscapes, what you find here are dreamscapes.
Ever since reading about the Blue Lagoon in National Geographic’s special issue titled Wonders of the World, I have dreamed of going to Iceland. Every picture I have seen of Iceland always evokes a sense of awe and wonder in me. Now having been, I have to say it was like being in a beautiful dream: 360 degrees of photo opportunities. The landscapes are truly one of a kind. I spent a week in Iceland, and spent the first half exploring the southwest.
The Blue Lagoon is actually formed from the waste water of a nearby geothermal power plant. However, do not let that discourage you from visiting! The water is said to be quite good for the skin due to its rich mineral content. I was mesmerized by how much the milky blue water looked like liquid crystal. Spending the whole afternoon lazily floating around the lagoon was just what I needed after the long flight from Romania. After dinner, I spent another couple hours soaking in the private lagoon of the Silica Hotel. I fell asleep that night feeling fully relaxed.
Iceland is the perfect place for a helicopter tour, as not only do you get a bird’s eye view of the incredible landscape, but also have easier access to remote locations. Hengill is an active volcano in Iceland, and its surrounding area is full of hot springs and other geothermal activity. Upon landing, we hiked a bit through the rolling hills and rising steam. It was a chilly day, and my hands were quite numb by the end of the tour. There were multiple times I was tempted to put my hand in a every warm stream we came across. However, knowing some of the streams have near boiling temperatures, I decided not to risk it. All in all, a magical way to spend the morning.
Reykjavik is a charming city. I throughly enjoyed exploring all it had to offer in terms of the shops, restaurants, and landmarks. Hallgrímskirkja church was a sight to behold, it reminded me of a spaceship yearning for the sky. There is a neat shop called Gjóska nearby which sells wool garments inspired by Icelandic nature. I picked out a charcoal beret with woolen flames on the side, reminiscent of lava. Just across from the church is Cafe Loki which serves up a very filling and delicious meal. Perfect place to break for lunch. It also has a great view of the church.
The Golden Circle consists of Geysir, Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. I split my tour of the circle into two days. I spent the first day touring Geysir and Gullfoss, along with a stop at the Kerid Crater. I quite enjoyed the audible silence around the geyser as everyone waited with anticipation for it to erupt. On the second day, I went to Thingvellir to dive between the European and North American continental plates. This fissure is known as Silfra, and its water clarity is incredible! I had spent the summer preparing for this dive, earning both my open water and dry suit diving certifications. Both of these certifications are required in order to scuba dive in the fissure. The water stays at a constant temperature of around 30 degrees, but with the dry suit, the cold did not bother me much at all. The dive master even taught me a neat trick to keep hands warm in the cold water. Add very warm water into the giving mittens, and then wear them before heading in. As someone with perpetually cold hands, I must say it really works! The scene underwater was a sight to behold! It was like swimming in a blue opal, with the way the sunlight danced about, emphasizing gorgeous blue green gradients. To a certain extent I am glad I did not have a camera, as I was truly able to immerse myself in the moment. However, I really do want pictures, so it seems I will have to sign up for another dive in the hopefully near future.