Wilderness

February 07, 2018  •  1 Comment

Last month I enjoyed a visit to a country I never really thought of as a holiday destination: Iceland. It was a last minute decision between me and my partner because of the cheap flight deals on easyjet, and we found 50% off camper vans with an Icelandic company called Camp Easy (I feel like there's an easy theme here...) 
Flight day arrived on 9th January, an early start of 5:30am, and we nearly missed our flight because we thought we had more time than we actually did (Whoops! Lesson learned.), having to run to our gate, arriving gasping and sweaty in winter clothing, it was just our luck that we caught the tail end of the queue before departure. And so, our journey to the land of ice had begun. Our flight went smoothly and we arrived in Keflavíc an hour early, only to be told we would be unable to get off the plane due to high winds preventing the ground equipment being brought due to safety concerns. It felt like an age sitting and waiting, muscles tight and aching from being sat still for far too long, but eventually we were able to touch base on Icelandic soil with our own two feet, before climbing aboard a bus to Reyjavík (Pronounced: Rake-ya-vik), and then eventually a transfer bus to our hotel, The Oddsson, which was more of a hostel than a hotel. It had an easy vibe, with soft neon lighting, a boheimian style bar, and pastel greens and pinks dominating their theme. Our room was very small, but comfortable and cosy with two big dormer windows, whcih gave an exquisite view of the night sky. Once we'd put our bags in our room it was time to stretch our stiff legs and hit downtown Reyjavík, seeing what this foreign city had to offer. 
The first thing that struck me was the amount of high quality street art, huge designs spanning the entire sides of buildings, with immense detail and creativity, they really caught the eye, to be found in all sorts of surprising places.
Situated on a harbor, tucked away behind a wall of mountains, Reyjavík is a well sheltered town with an abundance of activity, shops tend to open their doors later in the day, and shut late at night, the rich smells of different restaurants dishes drift through the air as the cold reddens your cheeks. This was a city moving ahead quickly, there was never limited options of what to eat, with a surprising number of vegetarian and vegan options at almost every restaurant. Although the atmosphere was very Icelandic, there were strong American influences, with an abundance of American and Canadian tourists visiting each year. One of my favorite things about this city was the book shops that doubled as coffee shops, meaning you could browse the book shelves and if you like the look of a particular book, you could sit down with a coffee and begin reading (Excellent if you're a fussy reader and need to get the flavor of a book before buying!). One of these shops had a resident cat by the name of Tissy, whom me and my boyfriend (Jack) ended up following as he lead us to chair that he wished to sit in to be fussed over (Is it obvious I'm a cat person?) This cat definitely knew how to make the most of the tourists! 
We enjoyed our first 4 days in the capital, making the most of the wide number of museums, admiring the fine architecture of some of the buildings, walking for miles each day, and trying a different cuisine each night - Our favorite was "Noodle Station", a restaurant that served an excellent portion of noodle soup, with your choice of chicken, beef, or vegetables, for a small cost of 1200Kr, one of the cheapest restaurants we could find with the best portion sizes. 

When the time came to pick up our campervan on the Saturday, we had seen enough of the city and were itching to hit the open road, we did some shopping at a local supermarket, stocking up on cheap foods such as beans, rice, and porridge, to feed ourselves without breaking the bank. One food we found was considerably cheaper than other foods in it's category was tomatoes. Why, I hear you ask? Well, the Icelandics have several large greenhouses towards the South of the island in which they grow tomatoes, which light up the night sky like a ball of flame and are powered by geothermal power (which is the case for a majority of Iceland). These were quite the spectacle, you could see them from miles away, like beacons of civilisation in the distance of a long dark road. One of these greenhouses was situated next to The Secret Lagoon in Flúðir, which gave an incredibly surreal experience, the greenhouse made the night sky glow yellow and it's light lit the steam up as it rose into the bitter air. At one point snow began to bucket down, sheets of it caught in the light above the greenhouse, as we bathed in the heat of the natural hotsprings our faces burned as icy snow the skin and our bodies stayed warm in the sulfuric waters, a phenomenally weird experience of mixed sensations and scenes!

Once we had our hands on the wheel of the camper, we headed down the south coast, shocked at the change in weather as we climbed over the mountain range that sheltered Reyjavik. It had been milder in the city, with no sign of snow, but up here there was a blizzard, we could barley see where we were going. Turns out, we were going to see a lot of this as we travelled the coast, covering ice plains, mountains, gale force winds, snow drifts, and freezing conditions. But the adventure was more than worth it, we discovered stunning waterfalls, vast open plains, quaint towns, black sand beaches with untamable waves (Check out Vík for this!), breathtaking mountain ranges, cheeky Icelandic horses who were hardier than I ever thought possible, hidden caves with stories of early settlers, and a sense of freedom that one only gets when you visit a land so vast and untamed that you can't help but feel humbled and small. It's a country I would recommend to anyone, the people are warm and welcoming, the landscapes are something that a camera can never do justice (Believe me, I tried my best!!) and the nature of the country will leave you in awe. 
Below are a small selection of images taken while we were there, but keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for more over the coming weeks, enjoy!

 

One of the first images taken on our trip, driving towards Flúðir The Secret Lagoon at Flúðir, picturing the greenhouses illuminating rising steam from the hot springs Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall along the south coast a few miles outside of Flúðir Scenery around Seljalandsjelfoss. Their skies were something else!! Another pit stop a miles west of Vik, behind me was a stunning waterfall, but thise scene made for more exciting images. Snow at Seljalandsfoss at night, I liked how weird and abstract this image is, giving you an idea of the icy winds whipping snow past your face. Sunrise on the road, Icelandic horses steadfast in the snow. Exploring caves in the south, what a find! Here you can see the snow drifts can regularly swept through the open landscapes


Comments

Cath Cromarty(non-registered)
What lovely photographs Emma.
I love them all, but especially the time lapse ones :-)
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