Summer getaway in Iceland
As I landed in Iceland for the second time in my life, it felt really weird. My first time visiting the country was more than three years ago, joining a work camp as a volunteer in a town called Hveragerði. Working in a multicultural team, experiencing different adventures everyday and sleeping on the floor in my sleeping bag.
Flying alone always makes me happy in a strange way. I like how you can pack just some of the stuff you own, wave to the people who love you & suddenly you find yourself up in the sky. It's freeing, yet scary. All those moments lead to me touching the ground in Keflavík, the international airport. I spent months striving to find new adventures and push myself somewhere else. Full of expectations, supposed my first feeling at this point would be: “OH DAMN! I'M IN ICELAND!” among with feeling bunch of butterflies in my stomach. I have to admit - I was quite disappointed when it was just: “Oh, what an extremely hot day today!” walking with huge regret that I put all the warm clothing on myself so I can save the kilos on my even bigger suitcase. Why did I feel this way? I wasn't so excited all of a sudden. And I realized it's ok. Probably I just matured and went through various life changing experiences.
I was invited over by my Icelandic friends and decided to split my two weeks to make the best out of them. First week was full of the real Icelandic experience, spending time in Reykjavík and later on camping with these awesome people, at the places I could only dream of. The second week was a team building with my parents. Yeah, let's call it this way. I persuaded them to arrive for a week and make an amazing family road trip, since I don't spend much time with them anymore living in Prague, so it felt like an opportunity.
Spending time with locals can be among the best things you can do in any country. They know exactly where to go, when to go and what to do. It's hard to sum up a week just in few sentences, but I'll give it a try.
I partied in Reykjavík. Slept in a tent for few nights. Realized that people shower naked together before entering a pool. Had a bath in hot springs. Experienced my first bonfire. Crossed rivers. Stood in the middle of nowhere in a huge wind, wearing only a t-shirt and screaming “This is real Iceland!”. Played some card game which didn't go well. Sheep ate our food while we were sleeping. And much more.
That's about the road tripping. All these moments made me appreciate nature and just the pure moment of being. And you realize that all the simple activities - filling your water bottle with fresh spring water, looking at the mountains passing by from the window of the car… make you wonder how much there is yet to explore. And how the people next to you form the way you remember it. And just how precious the planet is.
And the week with my parents? I couldn't believe I persuaded them. They probably couldn't believe they arrived. I planned every single spot of our trip. Seven days full of driving. For the sightseeing, I tried to mix up the tourist locations with some hidden gems to get the full experience. But I think they are glad they came. A road trip with Ludmila? Memory for a lifetime!
My favorite part of Iceland, which I'd like to visit again for more days is for sure highlands. I spent just one day in Landmannalaugar and I was speechless. To get there, you have to pass through an amazing scenery - where everything is just other world black-ish. Suddenly the mountains start differing in colors, and that's when you know you are in true paradise:
Moving away from the highlands, we had an amazing experience: we slept on a farm. And it was quite unusual! The lady was living there alone, using money from Airbnb to repair her house. Or was she alone? She had many dogs, a cat and lots of horses. Living there together in harmony. I must say it was extraordinary - she really seemed like she enjoyed talking to us. She had a warm smile, different kind of shoes on each leg & every room had its own clock showing different time.
Whenever we travel with my parents, we buy some chocolate and a small souvenir from our hometown and give it to people, who made our journey even better. This lady deserved it… next early morning, we continued to explore some of the more touristic sights.
When you come to Iceland you kind of expect ice. That's why Jökulsárlón is something I was thriving to see. Even though it was my second time there already, you cannot leave that place without goosebumps. It was rainy that morning: like, really rainy. I really admire people who can actually take pictures in Iceland, because I wanted to throw my camera into the ocean every five minutes. As you probably heard, rain on this island doesn't just go down. It goes straight into your face horizontally thanks to the great wind. But that didn't stop me to enjoy the sight - morning, ocean and icebergs.
East Iceland was ahead of us. The island started to change colors slightly. Suddenly more trees appeared next to the road and for me, it didn't feel as exotic anymore. However, it was even more peaceful. Not so many tourists, and the time was just passing by. We were reading about the stories of Lagarfljótsormurinn - the lake monster of Iceland, while we were passing by the Lagarfljót lake, which is 112m deep. And stopped for coffee in a turf house in Sænautasel. The owners were so lovely!
Near the lake Mývatn, you can explore the geothermal side of Iceland (once again) - in the valley of Námafjall. Most people only say it “smells like eggs” but I actually kinda liked it - it was just different. And well, exciting to imagine that Earth did this! Felt like a whole different planet.
And so we headed for Húsavík - the kingdom of whale watching. The best advice I ever took was “don't eat before going on that ship” and I really appreciated that after three hours on the Arctic ocean. It was a calm day, no big deal, no big waves - but oh man! You really start feeling dizzy after a while. All in all, it was worth it. We managed to see three beautiful whales… in those moments, you are not holding your camera. First of all, your fingers are so freezing! I was wearing about 6 layers of clothing, including a huge orange waterproof scafander they give you. Second of all… you are testing your sight. Every second is important. Where will the whale go out to breathe? And is it going to? Those are your thoughts, while breathing the freshest air you can imagine.
And we continued our journey back to where we started. That's a wrap up from my best photos. To be honest - photographing nature is so hard and so challenging. I couldn't even do it with a rainproof thingy on my camera. There was a glass in front of the lens, but it was full of raindrops all the time. And yet the pictures look so peaceful! So where am I headed next?