Sep 30, 2023
A captivating journey to Iceland, a land known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, innovative energy solutions, historic events and unique climate.
Exploring Iceland: A Week in the Land of Fire and Ice—Submitted by John Carricato
Reykjavik, Iceland - In April, my lady Diane and I embarked on a captivating journey to Iceland, a land known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, innovative energy solutions, historic events and unique climate. Iceland, often referred to as the "Land of Fire and Ice," is a Nordic island country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. With a population of approximately 360,000 people, it's one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe.
Before delving into my week-long adventure, let's take a brief look at Iceland's history and population. Iceland's history is steeped in Viking heritage, with the first permanent settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, arriving around 874 AD. The country gained independence from Denmark in 1944 and has since flourished as a modern European nation.
Iceland's climate is one of the most distinctive aspects of the country. Due to its high latitude just south of the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences a wide range of weather patterns and dramatic variations in daylight throughout the year. Iceland's daylight hours vary significantly depending on the time of year. In the depths of winter, around December, Iceland experiences its shortest daylight hours. During this time, the country may have as little as 4-5 hours of daylight, with the rest of the day shrouded in darkness.
Conversely, in the peak of summer, typically around June, Iceland enjoys its longest daylight hours. In the northernmost parts of the country, the sun barely sets, giving rise to the phenomenon known as the "midnight sun." During this time, Iceland can have close to 24 hours of daylight, allowing for extended exploration and outdoor activities.
Iceland's natural wonders left an indelible mark on our journey. Among these wonders were the mesmerizing waterfalls and rivers that adorn the Icelandic landscape. One such waterfall we visited is the majestic Gullfoss, whose powerful cascades are a testament to the country's raw natural beauty. The other was the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where we were able to walk behind the curtain of falling water, creating a surreal and unforgettable experience.
In addition to its natural wonders, Iceland holds a special place in history as the site of the historic meeting
between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986. This summit, known as the Reykjavik Summit, marked a significant step toward reducing tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
We visited the historic Höfði House, a historic building in Reykjavik where Regan and Gorbachev met and played a pivotal role in shaping the course of global politics.
One eating experience we enjoyed in Reykjavik was the famous "Bill Clinton hot dog." This Icelandic hot dog became internationally renowned when former U.S. President Bill Clinton stopped by Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a small hot dog stand, during his visit to Reykjavik in 2004. President Clinton's visit to the hot dog stand was unplanned and impromptu, yet it left a lasting legacy.
On a Friday evening, we unwound at a recreation pool, a popular pastime for locals and visitors alike. The soothing soak in warm waters was a perfect way to relax and connect with the friendly Icelandic locals.
One of our days took us to the Fridheimar tomato and horse farm. Our encounters there with Icelandic horses left lasting impressions. These small but sturdy creatures brought to Iceland by the first Vikings are deeply woven into the country's culture and history. A tour of the greenhouse was amazing. We learned about greenhouse is a remarkable testament to Iceland's innovative approach to year round farming using cheap geothermal energy to provide UV lighting and a hot climate in Iceland’s agriculturally challenged environment.
Reykjavik, with its charming streets and vibrant culture, offered us a glimpse into Iceland's urban life. We visited and climbed the iconic National Church steeple, a symbol of the nation's strong Lutheran heritage. The city's modern and creative spirit was also evident in its art galleries, vibrant music scene and cafes.
No trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa known for its striking azure waters. It provided a surreal experience, where we relaxed in the warm waters amidst the contrasting chilly air.
As our journey drew to a close, we embarked on a night hike to witness a full moon and the mesmerizing Northern Lights, a natural wonder that left us in awe. The dancing green lights in the Arctic sky were a perfect finale to our Icelandic adventure.
In conclusion, Iceland's natural wonders, rich history, innovative energy solutions, unique climate and warm hospitality left an indelible mark on our hearts. Despite the rainy, cool April weather, our well-prepared spirits and sense of adventure made this trip a truly unforgettable experience. Iceland, with its stark beauty, historic significance and friendly people is a place where the elements come alive, offering a unique and captivating adventure for all who dare to explore it.