One year ago I had the opportunity to journey to Iceland with my father in hopes of finding an adventure. Beside the island’s infamous volcanic eruptions and music from Bjork, Iceland is home to a culture and landscape richer than most; it’s truly a place unlike any other.
The ring road, an 800 mile long path circling the island, was our home for the three weeks we stayed. Traveling to the North, we ran into miles upon miles of unpaved roads, leading us around towns seemingly built off the coasts of fjords, waiting to invite you in. Eventually we hit Akureyri, a town so full of love that all of the red orbs in the stoplights have been changed into the shape of hearts. Continuing East, we came across endless terrain of geothermal activity, harnessed in order to power one of the few countries completely reliant on renewable energy. The steam produced floated into the air all around us, reminding us that a certain mystical strength belonged within the beauty. We came back down South, making sure to stop to see the highlights: Skógafoss, a 197 foot high waterfall looming just off the road, the continental plate drifting of Thingvellir, and Geysir, the original spring eruption location in which all others are named after. All of these places were things I had only dreamed of seeing, and yet despite the fact I’ve seen it all, it still doesn’t feel real.
Trucking on West along the Southern coast, was when the magic fully hit. Emerging from supposedly barren lava rock, we saw our first glacier, Vatnajökull. It was magnificent with its ice, tarnished by ash from an unknown time, towering a thousand feet into the air and as far back as the eye could see. We climbed and trekked in order to see the glacier from every possible angle; we simply couldn’t get enough of something so unlike anything we had ever seen. Eventually we had to bid our goodbyes to the bricks of ice and continued back the way we came. After a few last stops in the picturesque town of Vik with its black sand beaches and purple wildflowers, and a ferry ride to Heimaey, an island just off the coast, we were back to the bustling capital city of Reykjavik. We made sure to see the high points: Hallgrimskirkja, a well over 100 foot high church, and a few museums, but the last days of our trip were a chance to reflect on the voyage we took. With only two murders a year, Iceland is one of the most peaceful and happiest countries in the world, and I can’t help to contribute that to what I saw in my travels. Within nature, there is such a sense of community and serenity, and you can see how it has manifested into its inhabitants through their constant love for everything and everyone around them. Although I was only there for three weeks, I left a little different than when I first came. Whether I am a more peaceful person now, or more in tune with nature, Iceland altered me in a way that can only be experienced if you go there yourself. Perhaps I have a greater understanding of the workings of the Earth, but whatever the change, it only happened because I was able to travel. I went to Iceland with my dad looking for an adventure, and not only did I come back with that, but a better outlook on life as well.
Iceland, you will forever have my heart.
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