It would seem a ridiculous understatement to begin a summary by simply saying “Iceland is very cold”, so I won’t. However, Iceland is absolutely freezing. It is also mystical, intriguing, beautiful, barren and surprisingly alternative – also, have I mentioned it’s cold yet? The blizzard that greeted us was proof enough of Iceland’s namesake. Each time the Arrivals doors opened it brought with it a sweep of snow into the airport. However this quickly cleared to slush taking with it my Snow Angel left on the lawn of Austurvöllur square.
A wander through Reykjavik challenges everything one would initially consider an Icelandic town to resemble. There seemed to be no real conformity when it came to the architecture – a Gothic style mansion would easily be seen paired next to a chalet style lodge and there was no question as to whether either belonged. A zebra print coffee shop sat flanked by a pastel blue wood panelled fronted, beach themed clothing store to its right, and a pink club shouting the name”Queer Bar” in a flashing neon sign to its left. All of which seamlessly harmonised together, sharing a city with the 73 meter high Hallgrímskirkja church.
The second day, pitch black when we left at 09:30, was threatening to be miserable. The rain was coming down hard without any kind of suggestion that it intended to stop and the fog was so thick the mountains had vanished. Although pulling up to Seljalandsfoss the rain had cleared, this was merely in time for us to become soaked by the falls instead before heading on to Gullfoss and then finally Strokkur Geysir.
That night we found ourselves sat at the bar of “Destination Diva”. The four foot painting of red and blue macaws on the wall behind and giant pink flamingo to our left were a secret to anyone dining in the cosmopolitan Tapas bar below. Beyonce wailing through the speakers, however, may have given the game away. Our third and final day came too quickly. The Blue Lagoon’s popularity was evident in that there were no bookings available for the forthcoming six weeks. Therefore driving back out to middle of nowhere, we were in search for the Secret Lagoon. About a couple of hours from our house, situated in what looked like a garden centre, sat a 40 degree geothermally heated pool. It seemed ludicrous to be changing into a bikini in the middle of Iceland and the icy breeze stung my skin for the five steps from the changing room to the pool. However once submerged the cold air and slight rain drizzle was refreshing in the sweltering water. The steam rose, mixing with that coming from the geothermal pools (averaging 100 degrees) that surrounded the rocks at the water’s edge. A quiet, relaxed, ambiance drifted throughout the lagoon.
Personally, I believe that it is a common misconception that when visiting Iceland it is best to book tours – a boat tour out to see the whales, the Golden Circle tour to see the various sites of the south, a northern lights tour to watch the Aurora Borealis – hence a holiday here can easily become £££s for just a few days (although don’t be fooled, it is certainly not a cheap destination either way!) However, we hired a car for the cost of one tour for one person and were only hindered by clouds covering the northern lights and the fact that we couldn’t cram any more into our three days! I am excited to re-visit Iceland, to find the lights and widely explore more of this wondrously curious island.