This spring break, I traded the comfort of my family home for the adventure of a lifetime. With tickets and a sleeping van booked, we truly did not know what we were getting ourselves into. The first thing to know about Iceland is that pictures do not do it justice. I packed my fancy camera but I found it to be more of a burden than a helpful tool. Most of the time I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the scenery – it is something that I have never seen before and probably never will again. There is nothing I can say that has not been said; you simply have to see it with your own eyes.
We started off our trip heading north, against all advice from the countless travel blogs that I had read in preparation – but I must say that it was a great decision. Once you leave Reykjavik, you barely meet another soul on the road. Our first stop was possibly the most demanding of all the ones we made on the trip, but it is a must! The hike to Glymur, the second-highest waterfall in Iceland, takes about three hours. Let me tell you, for someone who hates all kinds of physical activity this was one of the most enjoyable things I have done. One thing that no one had warned me about was a river crossing at the beginning of the hike, where I had to do my best Indiana Jones impression and slide on a rope to get through. I wish I could say I made it to the other side with my clothes dry; I didn’t. But the view made the soak worth it.
The next day, we made our way to Hvítserkur, a dinosaur-looking rock on a black sand beach with a gorgeous snowy mountain backdrop. Getting there is another thing though. Our car was far from a 4×4 and it showed when we had to manoeuvre our way through a gravely road full of holes, hoping that we wouldn’t scratch our precious rental home. It was well worth the trouble, as it is a great place for seal and bird watching, and also some amazing Instagram snaps.
Iceland is basically waterfall after waterfall; sometimes they would even be in someone’s backyard! Quick stops here and there were essential parts of our trip, but the true beauty was Godafoss, literally meaning ‘waterfall of the gods’. Covered in snow, it looked like Narnia, or should I say Westeros, as it has been used as a Game of Thrones setting numerous times.
Moving on from there, the scenery changes every hour. From Mars-like geothermal Hverir, to mountains and lakes on the east coast that resemble Switzerland, not to mention glaciers that made us feel like we were in the Antarctic. Not hiding away from new experiences, we decided to go on a glacier walking tour, in which we learned that for a successful descent, we had to perform our best impersonation of a pimp walk.
Reaching the famous Golden Circle, home of the most popular landmarks, I was a bit underwhelmed. Seeing the crowds, I could not imagine how it looks during high-season. This is not to say it is not worth seeing, but Iceland has so much more to offer than what you can see there. If you decide to ever visit, make sure you explore other parts as well, as they are full of elves and troll magic with a bit of Norse legends thrown in the mix, that contribute to a completely unforgettable experience.
Image: Jasmina Kerla