Article dated on 07 Jan 2016 as TA1002
This article pretty much sums up, in general, how I spent 12 days in Iceland, and never for once did I regret doing so.
Well, to start this off, I need to first clarify on the “magical” part. I wasn’t quite the believer when I first came across brochures and travel articles emphasizing on how magical it was. I always see travel agencies with tour packages like, “7D Magical Tour” or “10D magical world of colors” and I kept thinking they were all mythical descriptions cooked up by these agencies to get people to buy these packages.
It was only when I started thinking of having a grand adventure to somewhere far, somewhere that makes me feel… appreciative of the nature, alive and not surrounded by man-made buildings, that I started looking into this “magical” part of the world – Iceland. Sure, you would say browsing through Google images could give you a false hope and glamour of how beautiful a place is, but I can tell you, they were impressive nevertheless. So impressive that I started researching how true they were. Reading articles, watching documentary videos – tried everything – and came to realise that this would all be true. That this would all lead to something I wouldn’t imagine it would be possible for us.
A Trip I would never Forget
So, with that I’ve decided to plan a trip there. A trip that many would say, it’s worth it once in a lifetime. Heck, some would argue it’s worth many times in a lifetime. I hate to say this, but I had to agree. At the time of writing this article, my wife and I were already missing that place. We were going to plan for a Summer trip there again sometime soon. And that’s, how fantastic Iceland is.
It really felt different. Maybe because it’s pretty much the first time I had traveled so far across the globe, and up north, that the trip was even more incredible for the both of us. The sidekick of an adventure, the sights that we see with our own true eyes – not google images anymore – just makes you wonder what other beauty Mother Nature had for us. I am quite certain that there are many other places with just as incredible a view as Iceland, or even more beautiful in different aspect of it. But there’s just something, something so different about that place that makes you feel… out of Earth. Ha, this is how I would quite accurately put it – “Out of time, out of Earth.” The tranquility and quietness combined with the majestic and power of the nature, is a force and rejuvenating effect that makes you understood life as a human. And at that moment, I thought:
“The world is so majestic and magnificent, while our lives seem so puny and small. So small that we only catch a glimpse of the world we lived in, and yet lived through decades of our lives within the same spot not realizing of the beauty mother nature had provided us, embraced us with.”
When I see a vast plain covered in snow, with just a clear black tar road leading down and through the nature of Earth, with the horizons casting a glimmering yellow-orange light upon the white snow, I knew I shouldn’t just stop here. Somewhere beyond these mountains, beyond that horizon, there are some other places out there that are worth visiting and kept in memory of before they disappear.
What makes a place even more incredible, more beautiful than what Google images or articles say? The people, the culture. People in Scandinavia are generally friendly, helpful and respectful. What made them even more special is how much they love their country, their nature. It’s their actions that count. Really, they prove it and I see it in their eyes. Even if it doesn’t represent the entire population, I would like to think and hope that they all do.
The White Terrains That Never Ends
During our time in winter, most places are covered by snow. While you don’t get as much scenery as compared to Summer time, the white landscape altogether, gave a different touch to Iceland’s massive landscape scenery. The weather can get pretty dramatic and changes almost as quickly as in matter of minutes, and that always prove to be a challenge when visiting places of attractions or even driving on the slippery road. One of the most adventurous journey I had, was through the mountain roads at night when it’s almost completely pitch black except for your car’s beam of lights, while strong wind is hitting you from the sides. I would be sharing the video I’ve captured of this experience in my next article, where I shared my Encounters in the North.
In Iceland, most of the population inhabits near the coastline of the island. The guide once told me that nearly 70% of Iceland, is inhabitable due to the harsh conditions or nature’s power. We’ve been traveling from Reykjavik all the way to Vik and Jokulsarlon, and that’s pretty much south-east of Iceland. Plenty of sightseeing, but also plenty of time for you to quietly think, reflect and ponder over life thus far. Yes, journey can be as long as 4 hours end to end on a tour bus. Of course, if you drive you can possibly shorten it to half of that duration, which can potentially be very helpful in part of your planning if you intend to self-drive. Although be warned, many did say that it’s not that difficult to drive in winter, while many others also say that it’s dangerous. As far as I observed during my journey, for most part of it you just had to apply the common sense and take extra precaution to avoid accidents.
Quite obviously accidents happen when a party tries to take considerable risk in doing something, or that negligence was the cause of it. But there are certainly roads and places that are not accessible during winter, while some places require a different type of vehicle. Just don’t take the risk thinking that you’re all that great of an F1 driver and attempt what others warned you not to. Beyond that, it’s all about the weather. Snow storm, powerful winds and occasionally but rare rains, are probably the major factors contributing to the danger-level of winter driving in Iceland.
The Magical Lights in the Sky
In the recent years, it became a lot more popular to Asia and people started swarming to the north to view these magical lights. Maybe because euro dollars dropped and these places became more affordable and accessible to us. Admittedly, it was one of the main reasons why we headed to Iceland, but it wasn’t the only one. Just as my guide had correctly put it – if you plan a trip just to see that one thing, you might end up having the worst trip ever for not seeing any of it.
I agree with that statement completely. I’m not sure if it’s fortunate or unfortunate in this case, but I didn’t see the lights dancing in the sky. However, I did manage to see shades of the colors appearing, glimmering in the sky. It don’t matter to me at all. I saw it. I captured these photos. I endured the cold and strong winds blowing from the mountain top to where the group stood, just to capture these amazing photos. And that to me alone, had been the most satisfying experience ever. And as many had so well said it,
“It’s not always the results that matter. Enjoy those moments in which you had experienced through instead.”
Ahh, those moments, those memories are still so fresh and so worth remembering of. They are so vivid and constantly flashing through my mind, recollecting the experience through that 12 days.
A Unique Experience All Year Round
There are some places on Earth where the culture and people speaks the most about that place. In Iceland, I felt the synergy of both the people and culture, as well as the nature’s rhythm in bringing the best of both worlds. For once, I felt that we all lived in harmony, together with nature. It embraces us with its beauty and massiveness, and yet making us know our place as human with its occasional but fearful wrath of its power.
While there are much more to see in Iceland, one can never finish exploring and documenting every corner of the Earth. And because I missed some of the exquisite experience – and of course, already missing that place – it only meant that I need to go there a second time. No doubt about that. Perhaps then, I would be able to share some of my favourite places and hotels that I would go again during our Summer trip. Till next time!
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