Looking for a much-needed break, I recently went to Iceland with my friend Joanna, a delightful English lawyer who works in Baghdad advising investors on how to negotiate Iraqi business laws.
Iceland was absolutely FANTASTIC.
Spectacular scenery, stark, dramatic. We both were longing for cold, wide-open spaces, and the outdoors, which we got in spades. We also managed to fit in one concert of the Reykjavik Philharmonic, a movie, and a performance of Elisir d’Amore by the Reykjavik opera company.
Iceland is a volcanic island, full of lava fields, smoldering thermal hot springs, dramatic glaciers, crystal clear waters, and soaring mountains. The size of England, its total population is only around 300,000, one third of which live in its charming capital, Reykjavik. Absolutely everyone we dealt with was charming, helpful and friendly. We met only one person who didn’t speak English, that was a gas station attendant (female).
Although November is off-season, we managed to go hiking, ice-hiking, dry suit diving, horseback riding, and many wonderful walks. We were the only guests at our various guesthouses, no one on the road or the various hiking trails.
Note to investors: Iceland has a burgeoning thermal energy industry, tapping into the tremendous energy of hot springs and thermal energy rising from the earth’s core.
They have only begun to exploit the vast thermal energy resources they possess: check it out as an investment. Clean sustainable energy. We had daylight from 9:00 am till 5:30, we could never quite get used to dawn happening at 9:00 in the morning. It has a strange effect, you’ve been up for hours but the day doesn’t start until you see the sun.
After spending our first few days doing vigorous off-road excursions onto glaciers with a guide, we rented a car and drove around the entire perimeter pf the island.
The scenery was wild and gorgeous; we were often the only car on the road. We stopped often to take a walk in the bracing air, or to pet some roadside horses, gaze at reindeer, or search in vain for seals.
We stayed in a sheep farm, a dairy farm, an old inn, and in every place had a warm and hospitable welcome, and at many delicious meals. We stayed up late, wrapped in duvets, hoping (in vain) to see the northern lights. We got back to Reykjavik, having just enough time to get changed for dinner and the opera. It was a very charming production, small but very well done.
A wonderful way to end our truly great vacation.
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