Homage to the Vikings: Why I Love Iceland

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Travel

If you’ve talked to me at all in recent months, you’ll know I love Iceland. I recently rounded off a two-week backpack excursion across mainland Europe with a three-day stopover on the mystical island country in the North Atlantic, and it was an experience I can’t wait to repeat.

(And this time, for much longer.)

Well Mike, you might ask, why the hell do you love this place called Iceland as much as you do? Isn’t it just a huge freezing chunk of ice floating around in the arctic? Don’t ships disappear up there? Isn’t that where the Titanic sank? Jesus, isn’t it just one hulking blizzard, 24/7, like that gigantic Earth-sized storm in the middle of Jupiter?

Exhibit A:

(Full-size image is breathtaking: http://i.imgur.com/884zh.jpg)

Yes folks, even though it looks like a scene from a Ray Bradbury novel, that’s somewhere ON EARTH.

I’ve been dreaming about going back ever since I came home. Hell, I woke up for three straight mornings in my bed here in Seattle thinking I was still in Reykjavik. Something about that place stayed with me, and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is ever since. Something is definitely calling me, and I’ve never felt such so increasingly magnetized to anyplace ever before.

I’m probably part Viking. Maybe in another life it was home. Maybe I was born of fire and brimstone in the heart of a volcano when I was born and got launched into a glacier, only to go Wolverine-berzerker on the huge block of ice and set myself free. And then resurfaced in….Sacramento.

No, probably not.

Landing at Keflavik airport feels like landing on the moon. I’ve said it before to pretty much everyone I’ve talked to about the experience, but the landscape, geography and feel of the place upon first glance is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before on this planet.

Despite the abrupt and turbulent change my life has currently taken (nothing new for me, really), I am making a plan to return there on my 31st birthday in March. That’s my only birthday wish for the year, and even though the timing might be such that it’s still winter, still cold and still under eight hours of daylight per day, I don’t even care.

Some places I’m going to hit this time around:

The Golden Circle - a huge set of waterfalls and geysers near the center of the island

Hekla, the "Gateway to Hell" as described by explorers

Vatnajökull Glacier - if you look on a map of Iceland, this is the source of the huge white spot in the middle. It's breathtaking from a plane, but I want to see it on the ground.

Eyjafjallajokull - no, it's not a bad Scrabble hand, it's a HUGE volcano on the east coast of Iceland that causes flight delays out of mainland Europe whenever it blows its top. No, I can't actually pronounce it either.

Northern Lights, aka Aurora Borealis - they eldued me last time, but this is priority #1 for the next trip. Probably priority #1 of anything I'd like to see in the entire world.

Downtown Reykjavik - and of course, downtown Reykjavik. Spending time here made me feel an almost Nirvana-like state of pure peace.

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