When I went to Iceland, I really thought that the place would be covered in ice. Seriously! There is a reason that Iceland is known at the “Land of Fire and Ice” … although I would rename it to:
Iceland : Land of the “Ficeterfallucken” … aka Land of Fire, Ice and Waterfalls Turducken style.
If you’re expecting amazing food and drink in Iceland, then you’re going to be a little surprised, unless you’re into a lot of pickled, smoked and slightly off-putting foods. However, if you’re into geology, astronomy, volcanology and photography, then Iceland will be one of your dream vacations. So here’s 12 things to do in Iceland : Trini-Style!
A lot of Trinis have “gas-brains” … they like fast speeds and tricked out cars. There is only one major highway in Iceland and it’s called the “Ring Road”. If you’re wondering why it’s called as such … take a look at the picture below – that should be your answer. The somewhat circular red line … yep, that’s it! Now on the the Ring Road, there are a lot of stretches where there is just you and a waterfall … there might also be some sheep wandering around … but if you’re into speeding, then Iceland is the place for you.
Here’s a stretch of blank road for you “drivists” … but you’re going to see so many different landscapes and have so many incredible detours that you’re never going to want to stop driving.
- Geyser watching
In Trinidad … the closest thing that we have to a geyser would be the “Devil’s Woodyard” which is a series of mud volcanoes in Souther Trinidad. In Iceland, the combination of geo-thermal activity, magma and lot of other “sciency” things create this awesome explosion of hot water. There are only a few places on the planet, that you can see Geysers and Iceland is one of them. Here’s one of my videos of Strokkur.
Did you know that the word “Geyser” came from Iceland? While Strokkur, which spouts boiling water 15 meters up into the air every few minutes is famous, the ubiquitous “Geysir” is the most famous one, but it’s now dormant with old age. If you’re going, don’t be crazy and stay in the lines and the path … no one wants to see you being cooked in boiling mud.
- Swim, walk and touch two continents within minutes
Þingvellir is a short drive from Reykjavik and is unique in that you can see where the North American and Eurasian Plates meet. You can walk across a bridge between continents, or you can swim, scuba or snorkel between the continents.
- How about climb down into a caldera?
I mentioned that Iceland has a lot of fire… right? Well as part of the volcanic legacy, you can climb down into a caldera. Now any volcanic region will have lot of calderas … but will there one so pretty?
This gorgeous locale in the photo above is the lake known as Kerið (roughly ‘pot’, ‘basin’ or ‘bowl’) in southwest Iceland, located about an hour east of Reykjavik by car. One of the more visually stunning legacies of Iceland’s volcanic origin, the Kerið caldera dates back 3 000 years and is one of several crater lakes in the area. What sets Kerið apart is both the structural form and the visually stunning nature of the caldera. Being half the age of neighbouring calderas, Kerið’s form has yet to deteriorate to the degree of its neighbours.
Since there are so many volcanoes in Iceland, you could always head over to Myvatn and do some more cratering.
- Check out some sulphur fields
Since you’re in Iceland … you’re now an expert in all things “Volcano”, so why not head into some sulphur fields for added action?
- Walk behind a waterfall at midnight?
If you’re really thinking like a boss … how about doing an unsupervised hike behind a thundering waterfall? Seljalandsfoss is visible from the road and in true Icelandic fashion, you can just drive up to it and start your hike. Obviously, at midnight, you’re going to be the only one there, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting kidnapped, shot or murdered … unlike if you attempted this in Trinidad. So sad … but so true.
- Learn three Icelandic phrases
With the different mismash of characters … you’ll never figure out how to say anything in Icelandic, but you’re definitely going to amuse the natives along the way. My Icelandic linguistic goal was being able to say “Kirkjubæjarklaustur” or “Höfn”. Unlike Trinidad, which is surrounded by number of other islands, Iceland is in the middle of nowhere, hence Icelandic is one of the rarest languages in the world. I thought that the language was a bit ridiculous, especially coming from an island where we have one of the sexiest accents in the world. I would suggest that telling people in a pub that you’re from Trinidad will be a great conversation starter.
- Sail through some glaciers at Jökulsárlón ice lagoon
Jökulsárlón is absolutely gorgeous … I couldn’t take a bad picture there because of how blue the water and ice was. You can do a boat tour and weave in and out of black and blue glaciers, and if you’re lucky, your tour guide will score a chunk of ice from the lagoon and break off some ice chips for you to taste. The ice lagoon really shows Iceland at its best where you have glaciers next to deep green valleys, and barren lava fields are bordered by gorgeous black sand beaches.
This lagoon is actually the deepest body of water located on the island nation of Iceland, connected to the highest peak in Iceland’s mountain range. So it is the highest and lowest point on the island simultaneously. Sliding down this giant peak is a massive glacier, ancient and heavy. Once the iceberg hits the lagoon, bits and pieces of it break off and thump terrifically into the water, creating majestic and mysterious-looking icebergs.
- Go see some waterfalls … ok … a lot of waterfalls.
Any regular reader of my blog knows that I love waterfalls … fascinated and slightly obsessed with them. Iceland has more waterfalls per sq. mile than almost any other place in the world.
- Go underground swimming in a lava cave and an underground river
Grjótagjá is a small lava cave near lake Mývatn with a thermal spring inside. Until the ’70s, Grjótagjá was a popular bathing site. For a while, it got to hot to swim in, but now it’s back to semi bathable temperatures. If you think that the water is too hot, then you can head to Stóragjá as an alternative bathing site. Grjótagjá was used as a location for filming the fifth episode of the third season of Game of Thrones … if you’re a fan of course.
- Glacier hiking … yeah seriously
- Go swim in a Blue Lagoon
Personally … this is a complete tourist trap and cliche, which is unfortunate because it’s actually not that bad. Even when it’s filled with Chinese and Japanese tourists (you can just bulldoze through them), there is still something really cool about this outdoor geothermal spa. Where else would you get milky blue water surrounded by black lava. This is a great stop at the end of a long epic trip, since it’s so relaxing. It’s completely tourist, but you can get the ultra relaxo combo of the sauna, natural silica facemask provided or even grab a drink from the bar they recently planted in the water. You can even get a massage floating on a mattress in the lagoon or a spa treatment if your budget allows it.For those not-so-bikini ready or beer-belly conscious, you can rely on the cloudy water to keep the mystery alive and as a bonus the silica in it makes skin silky smooth (it is also used to treat several skin diseases).
With all this stuff going on in Iceland … you might ask the obvious question
What is the nightlife there?
Well I didn’t have much time with the nightlife there, since I was too busy exploring the natural wonders of Iceland. I did go out two nights in Reykjavik, thanks some couchsurfing hostesses, and found out that buying alcohol in Iceland is supremely expensive. See my post on not being able to buy alcohol prior to getting to Iceland.
So what is a drunk minded Trinidadian to do?
As soon as I decided I would go to Iceland I was immediately told by a few people that whatever I do make sure I buy my beer / alcohol at the Duty free in the airport as it was more than twice the cost in the stores in the town as the government taxes by alcohol percentages.
- Pimp your wining sexy self for free drinks:
This really only works for women. That being said … people in Reykjavik don’t usually go out on the town before 1am and some stay out until 6 or 7am. Crazy I know, but these guys really know how to drink and have a good time.
- Drink at home or your hotel:
- Buy “food” that comes with a drink
A delicacy in Iceland is fermented shark (Hákarl). The shark comes with an obligatory shot of schnapps. Remember what I said about Icelandic food … this dish is so disgusting I wouldn’t of wanted to chug it down with anything else, the deathly taste of the schnapps masks the ammonia smelling shark. It’s like eating shit but masking it with vomit. Same difference!