by Charlotte Hipkiss
I’m sure the images you get when you hear the word Iceland are those of snow and cold wetness or in the case of some, broke bankers. But as you arrive after a long journey, you think either that you’re hallucinating or the people who named this country thought it’d be funny to see how many came out of the airport dressed in snow gear. In fact the first scenery I saw in Iceland I saw was a barren rocky landscape. Someone should ring the tourist office and complain about false advertising as this wasn’t what I signed up for.
Nethertheless, I withheld my complaints as there wouldn’t be much compensation out of it anyway and sat back in amazment as I watched Iceland pass by the ice-road trucker of a coach we sat in. Iceland, no matter how it’s presented, can be nothing less than one of the most breathtaking landscapes I have ever seen and even watching rocks roll past was entertaining.
On our first full day we visited Gullfoss, a beautiful half frozen waterfall with a razor sharp wind on the side. (Whilst iceland wasn’t covered in ice it wouldn’t be too long till your face was if you didn’t cover it!) After this we travelled to see the Geysirs, one of which was going off every 5-6 minutes to a height of 30 feet. If you’re taking pictures of these amazing sulphur-smelling water fountains, I’d advise you to take plenty of spare batteries for your camera, as the cold kills electronic devices quickly.
After a quick stop off for food, souvenirs and batteries we continued onto a place called Pingvellir, which is a place where you can see the plate boundaries clearly; the valley is created from the tectonic processes, and provides a good walk.
The following day, we travelled to a couple more waterfalls, then went on to a glacier where, without equipment or guides, we walked up at least 150 feet onto it. It[‘s truly amazing to stand on such a force of nature.
As we travelled on the horizon was blocked from view by a massive wall of white and as soon as we hit this front we couldn’t see more than 10 metres in any direction. Only thanks to our amazing driver did we arrive at our next stop at the black beaches, but unfortunately the weather had not subsided and we retreated to our ice road trucker and continued onto our accomadtion for the night.
It was a beatiful, clean and refreshing country lodge/hotel type. They didn’t serve us sheep’s head like our tour guide teased us with, but a very nice meal of fish, potato and salad. However, the shock was to come the following morning….
As we awoke and stumbled down to breakfast, we passed the front door that we entered the previous night. Now, it was blocked by a 4ft snow drift. We debated whether we should move on, and we decided to brave the weather … or rather our driver did.
We continued on, picking up stranded Netherland tourists as we went. After dropping off our new friends our tour guide had a surprise for us… she was taking us to the post office!
Excited as you could imagine a coach full of teenagers to be we went to this post office. However, it wasn’t your typical one; inside there were glass panels in the floor and a massive split in the ground that had been practically ‘framed’ from the 2008 earthquake , and was still sitting under this shopping centre. There was also an earthquake simulator which was rather amusing to listen to as people got inside the pitch black tiny room and were shaken about whilst screaming in most cases. Eventually we arrived back to a Reykjavik covered with about a foot of snow in the day we’d been gone.
On our last day, after we packed, we took an American tour of Reykjavik. That is we stayed in our ice-road trucker and drove round whilst being spoken to over the microphone. We then went onto a shopping centre which had similar shops to what you’d find in England but there was one souvenir shop where I bought a ‘Iceland rocks’ t-shirt which I thought was quite appropriate for a geography trip and then looked round a book shop flicking through books written in Icelandic.
After this we went to the Blue Lagoon which the recent snow made so steamy you had to squint hard through the fog to make sure you weren’t about to wander into any unsuspecting bathers. This was our final taste of iceland before we arrived back at the Airport and travelled back to the very unsnowy British Isles.
Iceland is one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever been to,. Its landscape is breathtaking and its people are very friendly. You might think a country with only 300,000 people living in it could be positively dull but in fact this place is quite the opposite. For the relatively short period of 5 days that I was there I was never bored and I only saw a tiny proportion of this magnficent island. I would recommend a trip to Iceland twice, everyday of the week and three times on Sundays. 110% worth the money and time of anyone who has even the slightest inclination to go.