Written by Anthony Lottes.
There is something special about traveling and the memories made from getting out of your comfort zone and experiencing a different culture. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind journey through some of the most picturesque landscapes on the planet, look no farther than Iceland. I never imagined that Icelandic culture would be so unique and diverse. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventures, happening night life, or pure relaxation, Iceland has it in abundance. With its rich history, fine dining, laid-back people and natural beauty, it is a wonder this serene slice of paradise isn’t more traveled on.
The first stop on our Baltic trip was a three day layover in Iceland. I had no idea what to expect in Iceland, but it exceeded all expectations. We flew into Keflavík and went straight to the Blue Lagoon after our long flight to get some relaxation. As soon as we left the airport in our rental car, it became clear why Iceland is becoming more of a hotspot for tourism. It looks like you are on the moon and everywhere you look you see steam hissing from the rocks from all of the volcanic activity. After about a 30 minute drive, while admiring the beauty and trying to remember how to drive a stick shift, we arrived at the Blue Lagoon. They really made this place feel like a spa, complete with a volcanic mud face mask. The purifying blue waters made us forget about the long journey there and got us ready for the adventures to come.
After another 45 minute drive we arrived at our hotel in Reykjavik. The quaint city has so many amazing restaurants and pubs to have a nice beer. The culinary experience is also an adventure in itself. They are known for their lamb and Icelandic Cod, which are staples in Iceland. They even have a world renowned hotdog stand Bill Clinton helped make famous that is a must see and eat place in the middle of the city.
Our first adventure was a long journey south to see some beautiful waterfalls and a glacier. After a long journey south, we got a glimpse of our first but definitely not last waterfall. We were even able to walk behind the waterfall for a unique view. The landscape drastically changed from the rugged, red rocks by the airport. It was very lush and green and you can see why they believe elves live in this area. Our second waterfall was a towering and tallest one in Iceland. We hiked all the way to the top to catch an amazing vantage point looking down. Looking out the windows on the way to the Glacier, it was obvious that we were in a truly remarkable place of undisturbed nature and beauty.
The highlight of our Iceland trip was the once in a lifetime chance to hike on a glacier. I had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we saw it, we knew it was going to be special. We had our pick axes and our crampons (spikes to go over your shoes) in hand and ready to navigate the treacherous landscape of the glacier. We had a very enjoyable and unforgettable hour-long hike surveying the glacier. Seeing the natural crevices and ice bridges made you feel like you were truly on an expedition. The glacier is always changing and melting at an alarming rate so no two days are the same trail. You can see the rivers of water flowing by your feet that flow down to the lake where we started our adventure. If you got thirsty you could just get down and drink that water which was some of the most refreshing and cold water I have ever drank. Hiking back to the bus and looking back at what you just conquered was an amazing feeling and an unforgettable experience.
The next day we went east to see the continental divide which separates the Americas and Europe, Iceland’s most famous waterfall, and get the chance to snowmobile on a glacier. Again, I could not believe how much the landscape had changed. With some tall peaks and beautiful lakes, it was completely different than what we had seen the previous two days. We got to the divide and got to walk right in the middle of the visible crack in the earth’s surface that split Europe and America. This is where they held government meetings and festivals. You could see why it was considered a very a special place to the Icelandic people. Next stop was Gullfoss, which is Iceland’s most famous waterfall. You can see why with it being like a mix of Niagara and Horseshoe falls in New York. It is massive and has many different parts of the raging waters flowing down into a canyon.
You could see the glacier in the distance and we all were wondering how we were going to get over there because there were no visible signs of roads and it was about 15 miles away. We boarded these off road vehicles and took the very bumpy exhilarating journey to the second glacier. We put on our snowmobile suits loaded up in an off road vehicle and took the trip to the edge of the glacier with the sound of snowmobiles in the distance. We all loaded up two to a snowmobile and began our ride. This glacier was 100% different than the other. This one was smooth packed snow which was perfect for a smooth ride. Somehow my brother and sister tipped their snowmobile over twice… Just admiring the beauty and having the crisp air against our face really made us realize what Iceland was all about.
Not knowing what to expect from Iceland, I came back with a whole new fascination of what else might be out there in the world that I wouldn’t have thought to visit. The whole experience was exhilarating, yet relaxing, and a trip I will never forget. The natural, raw beauty of Iceland is unique in every way and that truly makes it an adventure worth taking.