When I was a kid, I always had my nose in a book. Traveling to far away, fantastical places, without moving an inch. As an adult, I'm glad to know some of those far away, fantastical places that were always dancing around in my head actually exist. In Iceland at least, I believe I have found a world that is the very best destinations of my imagination.
This small island in the Arctic is an explorer's dream. From hidden caves, volcanoes, rocky cliffside hikes, braided rivers pouring into the Atlantic, and a feeling of absolute solitude almost everywhere; you feel like you could be the first one setting foot on some of these pathways.
Oh, the waterfalls. They range from a discrete little trickle meandering over smooth, slick rocks, to raging rivers falling off of cliffs of dizzying heights, and are undoubtedly one of the features that makes this country so very magical.
Ahhhh, the glacial lagoon. The first time I laid eyes on it three years ago, I was hooked. In the distance looms Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe, and in the icy pool of water are the icebergs of various sizes that fall from the massive body of the glacier. If you watch the ice on a quiet morning, you can hear it cracking, twisting, turning. Watch the massive icebergs roll over and turn up a smooth, glassy underbelly that has been in the icy bath for so long. You can see seals poking their heads up, families of ducks navigating the frozen waters, and my favorite? Catching the midnight sun slowing making its way down the horizon, just to come right back because it couldn't stand to be away for too long.
I don't have the words to adequately describe why I love Iceland so much. It may have something to do with the warmth of the people (even in a raging blizzard), the food, the landscape that is always changing and never less than spectacular, but mostly it's the otherworldly feel of it. The fact that 99% of the population believe in fairies and trolls, and if you go, I dare you not to be a believer. It's a feeling of being alive, and that you truly never know what fantastical sights may be around the next bend in the road. Knowing that places like this still exist, you really can't help but see the world through the eyes of your 8 year old self.
Until next time, Iceland.