The Stark Beauty of Iceland

View of Reykjavík from the top of the Hallgrimskirkja tower (a Lutheran church).
View of Reykjavík from the top of the tower of the Hallgrimskirkja Lutheran church.

Iceland is a country of stark beauty — one in which no pictures truly capture the experience of being there, present in that place of fire and water.

Driving from the airport can seem at first underwhelming. The surrounding countryside feels barren — until you realize that the fields are actually comprised of lava rock covered in a spongy grey-green moss, which lends everything an alien appearance. We were lucky enough to come when the Lupine was blooming, covering the landscape in bright purple-blue patches of vibrant color.

lupine in Iceland
Bright blue-purple lupine covered the fields of Iceland in June.

Further exploration of Iceland reveals a grand compilation of stunning landscapes, making it feel like we were traversing different countries while driving along. Over the course of our trip, we saw bubbling hot springs and geysers, astounding waterfalls, black sand beaches, craggy coastlines, and stony green mountains.

hot springs
Bubbling pools of sulfuric hot springs at Geysir.
Kirkjufellsfoss at the Snaefellsnes National Park, Iceland.
Kirkjufellsfoss at the Snaefellsnes National Park, Iceland.
Gulfoss Falls, part of the Golden Circle in Iceland.
Gulfoss Falls, part of the Golden Circle in Iceland.

While the weather ranged from cool to quite cold, we were blessed with beautiful weather on our trip. Generally, Iceland tends to be quite rainy during the summer months — but we mostly experienced sun-spattered days and were only hit with rain on our last days. The biggest weather challenge was the constant wind, which on one hike was so intense I thought it would push me off the slim trail.

selfie - the wind in Iceland
The wind in Iceland was intense — to say the least.

A lot of blog posts I’ve read about Iceland have focused on how expensive traveling within the country is — and it is true that it is not a cheap place to travel, the prices were not as exorbitant as we expected them to be (with the exception of the gas prices). The cost of food, for example, felt like it was on par with eating at decent restaurants in Bay Area, California, where my siblings and I are from.

All of my siblings and I fell in love with Iceland. The people, the communities, the landscapes, all made us feel as though the seven days that we were there were not nearly enough. I hope we will all be able to return at some point in the near future and take even more of the country in.

Seljalandsfoss, a stunning waterfall with a near constant rainbow, was my favorite experience of the trip.
Seljalandsfoss, a stunning waterfall with a near constant rainbow, was my favorite experience of the trip.
One of the reasons Seljalandsfoss awed me was being able to stand behind the falls in a cavern-like alcove and watch the sun “set” behind the water. I had such a lovely moment of peace while I was there.

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