The last leg of my journey overseas entailed a 10 day solo trip to Iceland. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to stop before home. A majority of my life, I’ve surrendered to my comfort zone. My family and friends often times mention “you need to be more assertive” or “you’re too quiet”. This was my personal challenge. 10 whole days thousands and thousands of miles from anyone and anything I was familiar with. It was the most freeing and beautiful time I’ve ever had. Iceland felt like home.
This country is a bit of a cliche in the photography community, and for good reason. The landscapes felt as though you were on the moon, hiking and viewing the most open and bizarre natural elements to exist. I dreamt of renting a car and camping gear to explore on my own, longing to sleep amongst the foreign land. Unfortunately, by the time my 3 month European adventures had come to an end, this just wasn’t a logical solution financially and I ended up finding a cheap guest house instead. I decided this was best, and to save that for a future trip with friends or family (hint hint...if anyone wants to go within the next couple years...). Not to mention that I probably would have stopped every 5 minutes to photograph something had I driven myself, and wouldn’t have seen half of the things I did.
My days were often times spent hopping on a tour bus at 7AM to be taken to one of many wonders with about 15 different strangers every day. To my surprise, a majority of the individuals I met were around my age and traveling alone themselves, which offered up perfect opportunities for conversation. We would spend our time making multiple stops at waterfalls, glaciers, volcanos, black sand beaches, and geysers amongst many other natural landscapes. Days were full of hiking, picnicking, sight seeing, and new friends. Most tours would end about 7PM, where I would then head to the grocery store and grab a quick dinner of ham and egg sandwiches, yogurt, and acacia juice & prepare to do it all again. I think this was my meal almost every single day, thanks to it’s price and their excessive selection of sea food (yuck!). Note to those of you looking into traveling to Iceland, most meals at restaurants run $25+, and I’ll be one to tell you that they aren’t anything fancy, but worth it to spend the money on at least once for the experience.
Luckily the sun doesn’t set until about 1:30AM and rises about 3:30AM in the summer, allowing an abundance of time to explore and sight-see (this is opposite in the winter, giving them about 4-5 hours of sunlight each day) The whole city of Reykjavik - which is the largest in the country with a whopping total population of about 200,000 - was alive with people walking dogs and eating ice cream at midnight. People would line the harbor with their friends and watch as the sun set, being unusually active considering the time. I even came across a music festival, Secret Summer Solstice, and enjoyed famous Iceland rappers with a full crowd singing along in their native tongue. Though I had absolutely no idea what they were saying, the atmosphere was engaging and quirky. I lucked out yet again, and ended up being in town during their yearly celebration of Fishermen's Day. There was a small parade, live music, and events for the public throughout the harbor. It was really neat getting to fully immerse in their culture in a way that many don’t get to experience. I would do these days over and over again if given the chance.
Iceland was hands down my favorite place of our entire trip. It has that small town vibe with the most amazing sights and people. Bliss overwhelmed me often. I’ll be back.