“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of the living.” – Miriam Beard
Some places leave a lasting impression on the visitor and, for me, Iceland is one such place.
Clean fresh air, steam rising out of the ground, subtle colours in the landscape, black rock, ice and barely discernible roads are some of the things that spring to mind when I think of Iceland.
Here’s what I mean:
We drove right across the middle of the country, from the south-west to the north coast. This route is closed for about 9 months of the year over the autumn, winter and spring, but even when it’s open it’s not exactly obvious where the roads are:
We drove for miles over rough black rock, seeing very few other vehicles or signs of habitation. I found it surprisingly beautiful.
We had to cross quite a few rivers, which I found both terrifying and exhilarating (I wasn’t doing the driving). The key is to avoid still water, which can be deceptively deep, and aim for the rough looking bits where there are rocks just beneath the surface.
Although there was a lot of black rock around, some bits of the country were very green:
Perhaps one of the things people expect when they go to Iceland is ice, particularly in the form of glaciers.
One thing about glaciers is that although they look nice and white when you see them at a distance, close-up they’re really quite dirty.
Another thing I wasn’t expecting about glaciers is the way they make eery creaking noises. I noticed this particularly in Norway once where I was in a hollow next to a glacier surrounded by mountains. The creaking noises, along with the sound of tumbling ice, echoed round the valley in a manner that fairly set my senses on edge.
At the foot of the Vatnajökull ice cap was the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, a blue lake of floating bergs that had calved off the glacier:
I believe many of the bergs melt in the lagoon, but I saw some drifting off under the bridge along the coast road out into the North Altlantic Ocean:
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Iceland twice, and on both trips I was helping out as field assistant to a geology chum of mine. Amongst other rock-related activities we went to look at some columnar basalt.
I hope I get the chance to go back to Iceland again, and if you’re thinking you might fancy a trip there yourself I would highly recommend it.