Why I’m not finished with Iceland yet

It’s not just the hot dogs, not just the glaciers, not just the expansive, inspiring views. It’s not even just the quirk of it all, or the fact that I listened to The Sugar Cubes before Björk went out on her own.

I can’t actually explain it at all, but what started as an intrigue about Iceland strong enough to make me persuade my family to go there on our recent European trip has turned into quite the obsession and I am quite sure I’ll be back there for some longer stretches sometime in the future. I am absolutely, definitely not finished with Iceland yet.

Why I'm not finished with Iceland

 

Special moments in Iceland

I’m fairly certain that you’ll get special moments at any time of year in Iceland – the Northern Lights would take care of that for much of the time (just not when we were there) and for the summer, there is everlasting sunlight.

Having the sun still up at midnight is a truly weird thing but apart from the detrimental effects on sleeping (especially for my son!) I loved it. Especially when it was actually sunny, not just not dark. One sunny night, staying on the mountain at Kirkjufell, I stayed up late and couldn’t stop staring at the amazing views and the really amazing way the light looked at that time of night. Lots of people talk about “the light” in Iceland. It’s hard to describe why, but now I’m one of them too.

Not finished with Iceland - Kirkjufell Mountain

Iceland’s most beautiful mountain, Kirkjufell, on the west coast

There were so many other special moments in Iceland. The time my son and I rounded a corner in Reykjavik, completely randomly, and immediately saw that famous hot dog stand we’d drooled over on the internet back home. Or the tiny restaurant with my son’s (somewhat unusual name), formed by combining the names of the two owners, and stopping there because we just had to.

And then there were the totally amazing places we rented to stay in, with so much space for thinking and incredible views over Iceland’s big, big landscape. And the absolute trust that the Icelanders had for us as guests in their homes.

Not finished with Iceland - lake close to Borgarnes

View from our airbnb house near Borgarnes

Devouring all I find about Iceland

It’s rare for me to bring heavy books or magazines home from a trip – I’m a backpacker, and I don’t want to lug that weight around. But from Iceland, I made an exception, because I kept coming across stuff that I wanted to read again, to hold on to and to cherish.

Two such examples were copies of the Reykjavík Grapevine – an English-language street paper – and the Iceland Review’s Atlantica magazine. Both were full not only of up-to-date information and tips but also some fascinating articles that helped me feel more informed about the quirk of Iceland. (And I recommend clicking through to their online sites too – so much to read!)

These magazines and newspapers taught me that Iceland was one of the first countries to pass a law making swimming lessons compulsory at school; that the acidic by-product of producing Icelandic skyr (and Greek yoghurt) are an environmental hazard; and possibly more than I needed to know about the great fishing quota debate. Something about small, isolated countries makes everything I read about them seem so much more fascinating. It’s not just me, right?

Not finished with Iceland - Anarstarpi harbour

Harbour at Anarstarpi in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Why I’ll return to Iceland

I want to see it in winter. I want to see it in autumn and spring and see the Northern Lights. I want to see it without the tourists of summer. And I want to spend a month there in summer with endless days and endless thinking time, sitting on a mountain writing.

Not finished with Iceland - Gulfoss waterfall

Gulfoss Waterfall on the Golden Circle

I want to hang out with more Icelanders and learn more Icelandic, just because it exists (even though it’s practically unnecessary – I didn’t meet a single Icelander who didn’t speak good English). I want to see all of the amazing places we didn’t get to see on this first trip.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to eat another of those delicious Icelandic hot dogs.

 

Where have you been that you can’t wait to return to?

Comments

  1. I completely get this post. My husband and I did the Ring Road in September, spending 10 days looping the country. Loved it – more than I ever thought I would and am looking forward to going back. We managed to catch the Northern Lights twice – in Akureyri and in Skogar. We both are think of winter – would love to see Gullfoss in the snow and ice

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