5 Photos from My Visit to Iceland
My wife and I just returned from a whirlwind vacation/one-year anniversary celebration to Europe, and boy was it a trip!
Over the course of 11 days we visited 4 countries -- Iceland, Ireland, London (England) and Paris (France). Each location was so unique and incredible, and we took plenty of photos to remember our trip by.
Over the course of four blog posts, I'll feature some of the highlights of each stop.
Iceland has long been a bucket-list destination for my wife Katie and me, going back even further than when we married or even met. I remember watching the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013) -- part of which is set in Iceland -- and being absolutely in awe of the raw beauty of the country. As silly as it sounds, I was actually inspired by Walter Mitty's -- played by Ben Stiller -- visit to Iceland, and I made a promise to myself that one day I'd visit for myself.
Katie, it turned out, had also had her own dream to visit Iceland even before we met , and so after getting married we starting planning and saving up for our bucket-list/one-year anniversary trip.
We'd heard that Iceland was a country of beautiful, majestic landscape and that you'd see something new and breathtaking everywhere you looked. It's true. We'd also heard that you could pull off the road anywhere, get out, and hike or take photos which is sort of true.. After arriving, we found that roads have only two lanes and no shoulders, so stopping anywhere isn't necessarily wise, but there are plenty of places designated for pulling off the road to stop. This photo was taken at a T-intersection in the middle of nowhere. Behind us ran the N1 highway -- or Ring Road that my wife and I were traveling -- along the coast; the road my wife and I are on heads off into the highland mountains.
As I've already said, Iceland is a land of natural, raw beauty -- from the ocean to mountains, from natural hot springs to glaciers, from lava and rock formations to waterfalls. We passed several waterfalls in a matter of hours, Seljalandsfoss being one of the famous ones. This one has a path that takes you up and behind the waterfall.
Another personal bucket list item has been to visit the DC plane wreck on Iceland's southern coast. Perhaps you've seen photos of it before. The story goes that a US Navy Plane ran out of fuel and was forced to crash on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur. Fortunately, everyone on-board survived. Over the years, it became a famous photography site, and the popularity of the photos led to it becoming a popular tourist site as well. We found this to be disappointingly true. In the photos I've seen, the wreck always looks abandoned, alone and wonderfully foreboding. After a 35-minute and two kilometer walk from the main road to the site, however, I was incredibly disappointed to find the site swarmed with tourists walking in and around the wreck, climbing on top, taking photos and waving flags. Several drones even buzzed annoyingly in the sky. While I understood that everyone was there for the same reason I was, there was still a huge sense of disappointment between my projection of what visiting the site would be like versus reality. Still, we managed to snap some great photos, and Katie got this one after most of the visitors had dispersed; a little extra Photoshop helps make it look like I had it to myself.
One of the things that amazed -- and at times shocked -- Katie and me was how isolated and remote Iceland really is. Not just in geographic location, but even in how people live and engage with each other. As of 2016, the population of Iceland was only 334,000, and most of it -- nearly half as of 2017 -- lives in or near the capital of Reykjavik. The remaining half of the population lives throughout the rest of the country, usually in very tiny communities of just a few dozen or hundred. You could usually tell where a small town or community was by the isolated recognizable church -- it's white walls and red roof sticking out in the otherwise barren, green landscape.
One of the highlights of our short three-day visit to Iceland was a day-trip to Vík í Mýrdal, otherwise known as just Vik. Located on the south-eastern coast, the population is only about 300. But it has a detectable feel as a fun, welcoming coastal town that makes it popular for backpackers and vacationers. Another church sits high on a hill above Vik, where I snapped this photo of Vik and the recognizable rock formations just off the coast.
Having now visited, I can confidently say that Iceland is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and I would highly recommend it to travelers with the following words of advice:
1. Iceland is expensive. Because of its location and because so much is imported, prices are far higher than what we pay here in the States. That said, if you plan and save accordingly it's worth the costs.
2. Iceland is very isolated and nomadic. It's not a huge country, but things are very spread out. Katie and I were surprised to find ourselves even feeling lonely at times. Civilization and comforts we were used to were far between; even simple things like finding a restaurant to eat at was a difficult task. Because of the slower, more isolated lifestyle, businesses like grocery stores also keep shorter daytime hours, so plan accordingly.
3. For such a small country, there's a lot to do, and many of those things require time. Not including drive-time, our trip to the DC plan wreck took about 2 hours -- time to hike to the wreck, time spent at the wreck and time to hike back. Waterfalls, hot springs and glaciers all require various amounts of time to drive to, hike to and to spend at. There was a lot we would have liked to have seen and done that we just didn't have the time for in our three days. I would suggest a week at least and even considering a full tour around the Ring Road.
Check back again soon for my five-photo recap of our next stop -- Ireland!
Subscribe to our Youtube Channel for videos of Adam's adventures!