A cloudy haze hung low in the seemingly rain laden sky as our plane touched down on an early summer morning at Keflavik airport in Iceland. My family made our way through baggage claim and stepped outside to the land known for its rugged beauty. Due to the time difference which created a great deal of weariness and the small amount of time we actually had to explore this unique country, we decided to hire a local tour guide. This was a great way to get to know the area for first timers; however, I think if we went back, we would rent a car.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Our tour guide was an enormous man that looked like a Viking. He introduced himself with a name that we couldn’t begin to pronounce. After numerous feeble attempts at saying his name, we determined our mouths just couldn’t make those sounds and he said we could just call him “Ossi.” The Icelandic language is unusual because it has remained largely unchanged since the time Vikings first settled the area. Many of the words are long and have letters that are unusual. The majority of the population is under the age of thirty and all of the people we talked to, even while touring in the outer regions, spoke very good English which helped us a great deal. We were all very hungry after the long flight and needed food, so Ossi took us to one of the few restaurants that would be recognizable.
We pulled into the parking lot of the familiar yellow “Subway” sign. It was anything but our normal Subway though. They had completely different types of breads, meats and cheeses. The restaurant was packed with locals who turned and stared when we entered. Ossi explained that we arrived during the longest day of the year where the sun never sets so there were many parties and festivals about. The locals there had probably been up partying all night and were getting a bite to eat before going home…at 7:00am in the morning! This was just a small glimpse into the type of festive, artistic, fun atmosphere that we were to experience later in our journey in the capital of Reykjavik. I think the most amazing aspect of Iceland was the newness of the main cities, the focus on art and music and the raw terrain on the outskirts of the cities that isn’t barricaded or blocked off. Our apartment itself was a testament to art. The walls were splattered painted that would have made Pollock proud and there was even an 8’ tall plastic horse that was converted into a lamp.
Reykjavik was packed with people, but it was never uncomfortable. Everyone in the streets were there to celebrate the music that was being played in the main square. Our family joined in on the fun by first partaking in Iceland’s world famous Beztu hot dog! The line for these hot dogs starts very early in the evening and the rule is to never get just one. We were not disappointed. In addition to the art and culture of the capital city, Iceland is the land of fire and ice. It is the youngest landform on Earth and still has very active volcanoes. We played in waterfalls, walked black sandy beaches, watched “Geysir” explode and visited the Blue Lagoon which is world renowned for its bright blue water’s healing power on the skin. The extent of the exploring is up to the person; however, Iceland is not for the weak of heart. It is beautiful yet unforgiving but beckons to be explored.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.