Iceland during winter seems like it is right out of a fairy tale. It’s an adventurous land that will make you want to return. I traveled to Iceland during the December of 2016 for about a week and I am so glad that I did. There are numerous things to do and see (so you can never have enoough time), especially in winter where snow makes everything
just a tiny bit more magical.
My flight to Iceland was a little bumpy but I have been told it usually is that way during winters. I decided to stay at Kex Hostel which I ended up choosing because of its unique history of being an old biscuit factory. I really enjoy how there is always an element of surprise when it comes to hostels.
I met a fellow couchsurfer on my first night itself. We went to a vegan food and vynl records cafe. It was a good experience since he was a meteorologist and knew a lot about the northern lights. Apparently, the best time to spot the lights isn’t during winter but is during Equinox. He also informed me of the most famous Icelandic novel, it’s called ‘Independent People’ by Halldor Laxness. It’s so interesting to learn about things that I could have never known about if I wasn’t present in that moment right then (sounds a little odd I know but I hope you know what I mean).
Compared to all the cold places that I have been to up until now, Reykjavik has been unique. It charmingly colorful, everywhere you go, you’ll see vibrant colors on the walls, roofs and even on the pavements. I tagged along with my Australian and American roommates at the hostel for a late night snack, we went to a hot dog stand which is famous for serving Kim Kardashian. During winters there are restaurants serving warm soups with the containers being large bread (another new practice that at least I hadn’t seen before or had failed to see). I also found teeny books about Icelandic myths, fairy tails, and witchcraft which caught my gaze at a bookstore I was browsing through. However, Reykjavik’s most magnificent experience would be the view from Hallgrimskirkja, an extremely tall church which for some reason looks like something musical to me personally. Hallgrimskirkja was shut when I reached there, it was having a memorial service and we were informed tourists would be able to enter the church soon.
More travelers and tourists stood outside the church as it started pouring. After what seemed like forever, the doors flung open and sobbing people in black started leaving. It was quite funny, a group of bright clothed scruffy travelers eagerly waiting to start some sightseeing, but on the other hand, a scene right out a movie where fine looking people grieving as the sky poured down with them. Anyhow, the weather only got worse and as I made through the top, the wind almost started toying with us. The observation deck was windowless and everybody there swayed as the wind made us dance around. But oh, the view! It was so amazing, especially with the added dramatic effects of the weather. It was only after I was back inside and dry did I realize how amusing that whole experience was.
Iceland has a number of landmarks, some I did experience, others I couldn’t but oh well, I know I will visit Iceland again. The following couple of days, I befriended two girls at
the hostel and we decided to chip in and rent out a car to go around the northern side. We literally covered everything and more that is covered during the golden circle tour, it was great. At the Geysir, it was interesting to see everybody’s reaction around when suddenly everybody would just look at the short tempered little hole on the earth bursting through. Driving around the mountain while listening to Icelandic songs truly made me feel so glad to have been alive.
I did go to blue lagoon, one of the most famous natural hot springs, but with all honesty, I had so many other great experiences that blue lagoon just ended up being one of the things I did there. It is good fun though and extremely relaxing however…
I was saving the best for the last though, I did not see my beloved Northern lights (it did disappoint me a bit of course), however, I booked a snorkeling tour in Thingvellir National Park and let me just say that it has been one THE MOST amazing experiences of my life! So just imagine, snorkeling when the temperature is in minus, you’re somewhere on the other end of the world and you technically get to be between America and Europe. The whole experience was ridiculously thrilling. You get to wear wet suits but let me tell you, no matter how many layers you wear, you will be freezing because some parts of you will be exposed. When we finally started, the weather wasn’t very ideal and it was snowing. It was a little daunting for me since I had never snorkeled or scuba dived before and the storm above me wasn’t helping but then when I finally just let it all go and decided to take it slow. Oh my, I can remember the view and the feeling so clearly. Right in that moment, I was just ‘being’, that’s all. There were no fish in the water because of the temperature but I just remember feeling so alive. The shades of blues and green with different colored rocks around. That moment wasn’t a pause, it was as though I was able to suddenly see everything oh so clearly. The storm raged on above us and we like foolish people in love just went on as if in a magic spell.
When I finally reached the end, I was helped out of the water, the spell was broken and I literally fell on the ground because my feet gave up. They gave us hot coco as we returned to our mini van and all of us just marveled over the adventure we were fortunate enough to experience.
As I was returning from Iceland, I met a passenger who just had a stopover there. She asked me about my trip and all I could say was ‘MAGICAL’.