Imagine driving a SUV (thank goodness for that car rental choice) … you’re driving and driving and all you see is WHITE! White sky, white flakes, white grounds. You park your car on the side of the road (wait, where’s the road?) and all you see around you is white and an orange jacket that your friend is styling in. You hop out of the car, jump in 5 feet of snow, and go trigger happy because it’s the most beautiful white you’ve ever seen.
Well, welcome to Iceland in the winter!
This past holiday, my husband and I decided to travel a bit around Europe with two friends who were so kind to pretty much plan the entire trip. Through IcelandAir, a stopover in Iceland was completely free. Although I have my favorite places in terms of history, entertainment, and nostalgia, Iceland has to be my favorite for its nature and beauty. It is just absolutely breathtaking there despite the cold.
Just a quick few facts about the country:
– Iceland relies heavily on tourism as it went bankrupt back in 2008. Things are very expensive. You’ll be drinking their tap water, which happens to be one of the best and purest waters in the world.
– 85% of the nation’s electricity comes from renewable resources – geothermal and hydropower. So naturally, the whole country smells like rotten eggs because hot water comes from the natural springs, but hey, it makes your skin amazingly soft.
– 2/3 of the population lives in Reyjkavik. Plus every community has their own outdoor, heated pool. They take their swimming seriously, so everyone must bathe before entering their natural sulphur no-chemical water.
– A majority of the world’s puffin population lives in Iceland. Sadly I did not see any but I did take a picture with a giant stuffed puffin!
– Though completely irrelevant to each other, crime rate is one of the lowest in the world and life expectancy is one of the highest!
The pictures really speak for themselves as it’s such a peaceful, beautiful place. Here are some shots we took as we visited as many places as possible in the 4 hours of daylight that we had!
(Below: Gullfoss Waterfalls – the place where I almost lost my fingers and toes from the cold but so worth climbing down to!) Half of the waterfalls were frozen and the other half poured down, hitting some of the ice on the side every so often.
There’s my husband taking some of his own close-up shots! See the path on the top right? We are technically not allowed to climb down as there was a warning sign, but it was worth it. We’re alive!!
Below: The Sun Voyager, a sculpture symbolizing the promise of dream, hope, and freedom.
Below: Outside of the famous Blue Lagoon, which is actually manmade and uses energy from the power plant next door. After going there, I met a local in the middle of the forest (yes, read my next entry to find out WHY i would ever go there!) and told me about how she used to climb over the fence as a teenager into the natural Blue Lagoon until tourism took over and revamped the whole place. Now it costs about 56 U.S. dollars just for admission, nothing included. She was sad that those adventures are over, but was glad that the country is getting a lot of visitors for their economy!
Here below is a picture I took right when the Strokkur geyser spit up. The water there is boiling hot!
In just 4 hours of daylight in 2 days, we pretty much saw what we needed to see. But it was at night where the phenomenon really happened…
Stay tuned for Iceland by night! 🙂