My All-Too-Brief Love Affair With Iceland

There have been a lot of places I’ve visited where upon leaving I’ve said “I wish I’d had more time here”. But come tomorrow, I suspect none more so than Iceland.

I’ve never fallen in love with a country so quickly. Nor have I ever been more adamant that I could never live somewhere that I adore so much. Sound paradoxical? Ah well, Iceland confuses me.

The first hints of beauty came riding through the town on a bus at 8:30 in the morning, after 45 minutes of sleep on a flight from New York. Though I was blurry-eyed and horrified at the knowledge that I wouldn’t be able to sleep for at least another twelve hours (I was determined to make the most of that day), the little streets and quaintly lit cafés and shops still looked pretty charming. But after having all trust for first impressions betrayed by America (more on that later), I decided to reserve judgement until I was post-food and about a litre of coffee.

It didn’t disappoint thereafter either. Reykjavik is beautiful, simply put. The snow lines the streets so perfectly, and as daylight hit earlier than I had any right to expect, the huge ridges that frame the bay my hostel lies on the edge of made breakfast and coffee so enjoyable. Getting to explore the city was a treat, and easy to do, since the population is only around 200,000, meaning it’s not hard to see a good deal of.

But far from being boring and backward, the city is very fun and a bit edgy. It’s like a bunch of hipsters came in, set the place up, and then made themselves scarce. There are cool-looking bars, loads of homely and interesting cafés, and though it’s small, the streets are friendly and it seems like there would be a lot going on at night.

I did the Golden Circle on my second day, saw by far the most breathtaking waterfall I’ve

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall

had the privilege to visit, the geyser that geyser’s are named after, a geothermal power plant (which I’ll devote an entire blog to later on) and a tonne of other really cool stuff. It was a brilliant day.

I couldn’t live here though. The cold kills me. I thought I acclimatised myself pretty well to freezing weather in Germany, and whilst other Melbournians were complaining about our tumultuous weather, I was sitting there smugly, thinking “you ain’t seen nuthin,’, boy”.

But this is another story. I get that in Canada and the northern reaches of Scandinavia it’s much worse, I do. But negative nine in early December is more than cold enough for me, thank you. It’s kind of cool for a couple of days, but after a week of this I think I’d be about ready for the strange nosebleeds that accompany my arrival in much warmer temperatures.

Yay spas

Yay spas

The thing that makes the cold tolerable over short spaces (aside from the novelty factor) are the spas here. That’s where I’m writing this blog from, the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa about fifteen minutes from Keflavik airport. The airport’s far too close for comfort, as it reminds me how foolish I was to only spend three days in this country. Tomorrow I fly to Germany, into a melee of reunions, applications, Christmas Markets and general uncertainty over how I’m spending the next eight months.

But an hour ago, I was in a 40 degree spa, there was a beer in my hand, ice in my hair, and quite frankly, I’m still riding off that high.

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