Iceland: Where the Wild Things Are
If someone told you there is a land of fire and ice that's home to glaciers, icebergs, hot springs, geysers, lava fields, volcanos, and more natural wonders than you can imagine, you'd probably think to reply, "And do gnomes, trolls, and elves live there too?". Actually, yes they do. Welcome to Iceland.
My friend and I were fortunate enough to meet two girls from Iceland in New York a few years ago. We quickly got to know each other and not long after received an invitation to Iceland. When two young, blonde Icelandic girls invite you, it doesn't take much thought. A few weeks later found myself boarding a plane to Reykjavik, Iceland.
A Strange Landscape
After seeing the landscape in Iceland, it's easy to see why the people believe in such strange folklore as gnomes, trolls, and elves. How else would you explain to your child that your neighbor is no longer alive because he fell into a hidden geothermal pool hidden beneath a moss covered lava field, and was subsequently boiled to death. It's much easier to say, "He was bad, and the trolls got him."
Iceland sits astride the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is area of active geothermal and volcanic activity. In fact, there's so much geothermal activity that every home is heated by the immense heat billowing out of the Earth at every turn of the bend.
It doesn't take long to get out of the city of Reykjavik. Iceland has a total population of about 300,000 people with 250,000 residing with Reykjavik. Our first day on the island consisted of a guided tour of the countryside. Having a beer and running around in the lava fields with snow capped hills in the background was just surreal.
Our hosts were very generous, and a good time was had by all. I was fascinated by Reykjavik's vibrant art and music scene. Sounds of local bands fill the city's bars at night, and a heavy emphasis on style is reflected in their fashion, architecture and street art. For such a small population, there's a true appreciation for the arts on the island.
I think people forget just how close Iceland is to Europe and North America. From New York City, it's a mere 5.5 hour flight. That's no longer than a trip to Los Angeles. It can certainly be done in a long weekend. I promise you, Iceland won't disappoint. It's in one of the top three places I've experienced, and i hope to get back soon to experience even more of the enchanted island.