We drove over 1300 miles, our car with teeth that bit into the ice sheeted roads.
Iceland is every bit as magical as you can imagine. You look up to the sky of dancing lights, you look out to the mountainous horizon and you look down to the snow and lava fields that crunch beneath your feet.
The city of Reykjavik has a strong arts culture/community and we happened across the Winter Lights Festival, where all the art museums and swimming pools were open for the weekend and creative happenings were located throughout the city. We managed to be at the opening of the festival, where Icelandic Artist Ingvar Björn, projected volcanic eruptions on to the Hallgrímskirkja church whilst orchestral music played in the background.
After a long day out exploring the golden circle we were driving back to our accommodation when we saw the green shimmer of light in the sky. It felt so sudden and easy, to stumble across this phenomenon. We chased it to a well known spot and sat in awe for over an hour watching the lights play in the sky.
The little island, Videy, near Reykjavik, gave us stunning views of the nearby landscape. The grass shone golden and the sky sat moodily with heavy rain clouds.
We walked for an hour over snow to the D3-Plane Wreck, which sat alien in its environment. Tourists clambered over, under and in the plane to get the best photo.
A storm hit on our last day and we spent three hours in the Blue Lagoon being blown around the warm pool. The sheltered spots were a welcome rest from the prevailing wind.
Iceland has a rugged beauty with a stark, harsh environment.
Tourism is starting to take hold of Reykjavik. Whilst the locals try to preserve the culture, there is a tension between the rise of tourism-based buildings and the fall of community-led space. We spoke to one of the owners of a co-operative art gallery, who told us that their gallery was soon to be torn down for new tourist accommodation. We wished her luck and walked out into the high street of Reykjavik.
Even though there was an apparent creeping in of American influence, there was still a real beating heart in Iceland’s capital city. The art within the Winter Lights Festival was full of young and old blood and had an amazing energy that we had happened to walk into.
The Icelandic humour was very apparent and dry; little signs would catch you by surprise and make you smile.
I look back on this adventure with a real mix of feelings, a little sad but most of all with a sense of respect for the people of Iceland who brave the cold, harsh climate and dark hours with a persistence and humour that can teach us all about not taking life too seriously.
Till next time, Iceland.