As a foodie, I was looking forward to my dining experiences in Iceland. Sitting in the now trendy and hip city of Reykjavik at a popular restaurant I perused the menu with an eagerness to enjoy the spoils of Icelandic culinary delights. The main courses had me on the back foot straight away. Hákarl is shark flesh that is buried in the ground and urinated on before covering it over for a few months to ferment. Pass. Minke Whale – Pass. Puffin – Pass. Fish Stomach – Pass.
But all was not lost, there were other more well-known dishes that I was familiar with so I chose a lamb curry which was one of the best I’d tasted anywhere in the world however, it was served on a slab of rock which I later discovered was because the locals like to be ‘creative’ in how they serve their food.
The name Iceland conjures up images of imposing ice formations, northern lights, glaciers, geothermal spas, geysers, majestic waterfalls, moss covered lava and glacial lagoons. These extraordinary diverse landscapes inspire a sense of discovery, awe and pure delight. I thought I was prepared for what Iceland has to offer but the natural beauty, vastness and what seemed never ending dramatic landscapes around every corner to this day still feed my wanderlust soul.
Visiting Hverarönd Goethermal Area was such a contrast to other parts of Iceland. You can view the mudspots here. Then you can visit The Goðafoss Waterfall which is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres. It totally blows your mind with its breadth. You can view the waterfall here.
The colours of Iceland took my breath away. In the summer light, there is warmth and a richness near the water. Inland, is green with soaring jagged cliffs, ice topping the ridges, waterfalls tumbling randomly.
I was fortunate enough to travel in July and having watched Iceland (pronounced “iss-land”) defeat England in the European Cup only a few weeks before, my group was excited that we would be in the town of Akureyri when Iceland played France in the quarter-final. This is how Akuyrei watched the game in the town square. Click here to view. Later we were in Reykjavik for the return of the soccer team. If you’d like to see how a country unites Google ‘thunderclap’. With long days in July, it’s hard to stop exploring until you realise that it’s 1 am and probably should get some shut eye. You can check out the thunderclap here on YouTube.
Since the economic crisis of 2008, the currency in Iceland dropped by half but these days the prices have risen on imported goods and it’s not uncommon to pay $30 for a hamburger (damn fine one I might add).
There are plenty of excellent hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. However, I highly recommend farm stays if you want to learn more about the locals who are generous, kind and extremely honest. Most people speak English but if not, a smile and knowing a few words will get you by.
As for speaking the language – I can still only say three words – Reykjavik, Akureyri, and Elska (love) it’s not an easy language to the Australian ear yet somewhat hypnotic in other ways. Must be the Viking in me.
Although we were travelling in July, we could be wearing a t-shirt one day and all of our winter clothes the next. That diversity in climate and conditions made me fall in love with it even more and I know you will too.
As printed in the Warrandyte Diary February 2017