“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but, by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou
Over the summer, a friend of mine told me about a trip to Iceland she was going on and that if I wanted to come, she would love it. That very day, I booked a two-way plane ticket (under $400, round-trip with insurance included). Iceland was never a place that I thought to travel because something about the word “ice” never appealed to me, being a New Englander who tries to escape the cold! As an adult who has traveled a lot and experienced many cultures, I realized that relying on presumptions is never the way to live. I counted down the months and days until we took off at the end of October.
I can’t lie–when we landed, there was indeed ice on the ground. Actually, for the whole trip, I lived in layers since the weather was at a high of 40 degrees F(~4 degrees C) with sprinklings of rain. We had some issues because after renting our vehicle, we had trouble converting our GPS system to Icelandic–but we did it, and arrived at our hotel at 8:30 AM, just in time for a cat nap. We were so tired from our bumpy start and little sleep but we eventually made it to the beautiful Blue Lagoon, the famous geothermal spa. It is the stereotypical thing to do but nonetheless, you have to do it!
Throughout the next few days, we rested up but then were on the go. We rode horses, hiked, and did a lot of driving. We drove all the way to Vik, a small village east of the capital, and then took a bus back (one of our travel buddies took the car around the country for 3 more days). As much as I loved the sheer beauty of Iceland, probably one of our most memorable experiences was our last night in Reykjavik, when we decided to party all night before my flight in the morning.
Our partying was so fun because we chatted with two amazing girls from the city. We were waiting in a seemingly endless line to get into a popular nightclub on Halloween night but it was taking too long. I noticed two pretty girls speaking in Icelandic but I decided to strike up a conversation in English. Normally, I would at least preface a conversation with, “Do you speak English?” but thankfully my instincts were correct. They turned out to not only know English (they all learn in school), but they were hilarious and knew more lyrics to American songs than I did. What surprised me the most was that that even in a cold climate, they were naturally friendly. Another note is that Icelandic young people rage harder than any group of club-goers. This is probably to keep warm. Overall, Iceland is a cool place–in more ways than one–the people are friendly, and they love to share the beauty of their country.
Have you visited any new interesting places lately?