In this four-part series, lomographer Andrea Russo – andrejrusskovskij – opens up about his recent week-long trip to Iceland.
Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking natural landscapes, it’s no surprise that many intrepid travelers have Iceland on their travel bucket lists. One of them is Andrea Russo, who had been wanting to visit the magical island for about half of his life. Just last January, he was finally able to make this dream a reality as he spent eight days in the beautiful country with his girlfriend Isa.
In this post, Russo recalls the first three days that they spent in Iceland – being welcomed by a majestic sunset, having their first view of the northern lights, traveling to Iceland’s popular spots, and experiencing many other things that are unique to this marvelous country.
Jörð + Vatn, “earth and water”, are all around you.
When you grow up listening to Björk and Sigur Rós, it’s impossible not to wonder what makes their music and videos so unique and breathtaking. It doesn’t take long to realize that their own country is the biggest inspiration.
I’ve been craving to experience Iceland on my skin for half of my life but I never managed to fulfill this dream of mine. In December, I found out that I still had one week of holiday left to take before the end of January 2015. I let Isa know while she was still in Budapest, and, in a couple of hours, this text message popped up on my mobile: “I’ve found a cheap flight to Reykjavik, shall we?” Of course, my answer was YES. We considered for a couple of minutes the cons of this decision: short days and cold weather. Not enough reasons, in our opinion, to postpone the trip.
There’s no words to describe how Isa and I felt in the first hours that we landed on a shiny afternoon. Utterly amazed would not be enough. The colors of every single detail around us were so vivid and the light so warm. We reached Reykjavik in time to see the sunset from Harpa, the Icelandic opera house, and the breathtaking pink mountains on the background. We strolled around the city for a while, enjoyed a local flea market, and a hot bowl of spicy Vietnamese soup before meeting with James and Audra, our Couchsurfing hosts.
That same night, we followed their advice and traveled far from the city lights in order to have better chances of seeing the northern lights. That was the first time we met a very shy Mrs. Aurora Borealis.
Our second day started with a boiling sulphureous shower (in Iceland, hot water comes directly from geothermal hot springs) and a yummy breakfast/brunch in the lovely “grandma style” Tiu Dropar in downtown Reykjavik. The well-known Golden Circle was our daily pick. We travelled to Þingvellir, the largest natural lake in Iceland; to the geothermal active valley of Haukadalur, with its erupting geyser Strokkur; and to the impetuous, almost frozen, Gullfoss waterfall. We soon discovered that it was pretty much impossible to drive for more than 10 minutes without stopping our car and taking some pictures. We also found out that the main street, the Ring Road, was far from being clean from ice or snow as we thought it would be. We went back to Reykjavik harbor to dine at Sægreifinn with shrimps and salmon skewers along with whale steak.
Blessed with a very mild weather while on the Golden Circle, we were not so lucky when we ventured to Snæfellsnes, a peninsula in western Iceland, on our third day.
After having pancakes with bacon and maple syrup in the artsy Grái Kötturinn, a Björk favorite, we left Reykjavik to travel up north. The wind was strong enough to move my 4WD, Iceland-proof, car and we risked our lives a couple of times by suddenly steering to avoid snowdrifts in the middle of the street. This dreadful weather gave to the peninsula an even wilder charm and probably contribute in making this place one of the highlights of the journey. Sweeps of crooked black lava rocks covered in moss, dramatic sea cliffs beaten by humongous waves in the mist, the majestic Snæfellsjökull, the cobalt blue ocean, the utter desolation, and the awareness of being in one of the few places on Earth where Nature still reigns over men.
To be continued.