Stunning landscapes and beautiful people
05.09.2015 - 05.14.2015 38 °F
Kveðjur frá Íslandi!
After seven weeks of traveling solo, backup has finally arrived!
As much fun as it has been to explore Europe on my own, I couldn't be more excited for my brother to join me for a few weeks.
In fact, he flew through the night and landed with about 30 minutes to spare before we were to be picked up for a tour through the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a 300 km loop through southern Iceland that has a number of the more scenic spots around the region. We were picked by our awesome guide Einar (pronounced Einus) in his lift-kitted 4x4 and we were off!
Without a doubt, the highlight was driving on the glacier. Unbelievably expansive, we could explore wherever we wanted to go.
Im not kidding, up the sides of mountains, wherever. Here we are on about a 40 degree slope.
We rented a car for three days and drove clear across the country to the eastern coast to a glacial lagoon called Jökulsárlón.
In the lagoon we saw seals enjoying a sunny day among the icebergs.
It is about 1.5 km away from the ocean and icebergs often wash out from the lagoon into the ocean, eventually finding their way to the black sand beaches nearby.
And with all of this glacial ice and rainfall, there are waterfalls everywhere. These were some of the major ones through the Golden Circle as well as along the southern coast.
Here is a two minute video montage of a lot of our experience here. Even on film it is difficult to capture how big this place is.
My brother and I were overcome with a sense of love for this country and we could only think of one way to really express it. That, or when my brother and I get together we do dumb things. Either way, I think this is how Iceland is best enjoyed:
I don't know who thought it was a good idea to buy child's mediums but weird things happen in Iceland (Sorry mom).
Jesus...where do we go from here?
Quick! Pretty pictures of horses!
See, isn't that better?
Ok, moving on...
Iceland boasts some of the most beautiful, rustic coast line I have ever seen. Not exactly the place to relax and catch a few rays, but the black sand beaches and rocky cliffs create a dramatic view around every turn.
And speaking of the terrain, most of this country is lava rock covered by moss. There are almost no trees in Iceland. Just barren expanses like this leading up to rocky mountains.
Oh, fun fact: the days are getting to be so long here that the sun doesn't set until 10:45pm -11pm. I took this picture at 10:30pm to give you a sense.
The city of Reykjavik is a beautiful place. The city center is quaint and filled with restaurants and shops. When the financial collapse of 2008 hit, Iceland was wildly affected. Just seven years ago, the cost to visit this country was more than double what it is now. But the financial collapse lowered the barrier to entry for most tourists which has created a boom in tourism throughout Iceland. Last year alone, this country of only 300,000 inhabitants had more than one million visitors.
Don't be fooled, though. Life is still very expensive here. An average dinner will cost you between $30 to $45.
Oh, and while here, apparently you need to try something awful called Hákarl. It is a national dish of Iceland consisting of a Greenland shark which has been cured with a particular fermentation process and hung to dry for four to five months. Essentially, it is rotting shark and let me tell you, it absolutely tastes like it.
It is recommended that you wash it down with a shot of Brennivin, an almost equally bad vodka. I am very glad I only have to do that once in my life.
One of the coolest experiences that Brandon and I had was when we hiked to a waterfall we saw pouring from a mountain. We turned off the road and made our way as far as we could by car until we had to hike up the creek bed by foot. Situated between two mountains, this beautiful waterfall seemed untouched and unexplored.
Then Brandon got naked and went in. This is the only safe for work shot I can show you. Please send requests for additional shots to firstname.lastname@example.org
There was a lot of male nudity on this trip...
A few miscellaneous extras:
Iceland is an amazing place. I highly recommend a visit. It is a beautiful country filled with beautifully friendly people and I can't wait to come back to see the northern lights and do a bit of fishing with Einar.
Thanks for reading, everyone.
Time to catch a plane to Norway!