Why we're inspired by Iceland
Iceland is not just a holiday or tourist destination, it is a place where explorers and adventurers go in search of something different and return with countless stories and experiences to share. Every season each region of the country offers its own unique secrets to the intrepid traveller.
In order to be an intrepid traveler, you don't necessarily have to be a naturalist or a professional explorer, instead all it takes is an open mind. Iceland certainly isn't a place without it's creature comforts. With some of the best living standards in the world an escape to Iceland is most certainly a luxurious experience.
Where the Unexpected Happens Every Day
A COUNTRY OF SHARP CONTRASTS, ICELAND IS NOT EASILY DEFINED. HOME TO THE LARGEST GLACIER IN EUROPE AS WELL AS SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST ACTIVE VOLCANOES, IT IS WIDELY KNOWN AS “THE LAND OF FIRE AND ICE.”
Iceland is also the land of darkness and light. Its location just below the Arctic Circle makes for long summer days with near 24-hours of sunlight, offset by short winter days with little sunlight at all. Fortunately, while winters are dark, they are relatively mild and play host to one of nature’s most spectacular exhibitions of beauty: the Aurora Borealis. On a dark and clear night, the Northern Lights can often be seen dancing across the sky overhead in all their green glory. You should move fast to catch them though, as they often disappear just as quickly as they appear, behaving much like Iceland’s weather which shifts in mysterious ways.
If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. Or, at least, that is what the locals will tell you. While the average temperature is favourable, the conditions can alternate quickly from sunshine, to rain, to sunshine again. This complicates the selection of the correct attire, but Iceland’s dramatic weather adds to the already great diversity of landscape and lighting, which changes with every turn in the road and every changing season.
Given how unpredictable the elements are, it’s not strange that Icelanders have a rich tradition for folklore rife with sorcerers, ghosts, elves, trolls, hidden people, and other mystical beings. Many stories are influenced by the long dark nights of winter, while others are related to the long summer nights.
Iceland is a curious mix of old traditions in new settings. Iceland is both, the youngest landmass in Europe; and home to the continent’s oldest parliament, formed in 930 AD. The parliament’s original location, Thingvellir, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, located at the juncture between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, which are drifting apart by a few centimetres every year. In Thingvellir, it is possible to walk or even dive between the two continents.
From the moss covered lava fields in the southwest through to the barren highlands in the centre, to the soaring fjords in the northwest, Iceland offers a great diversity of landscape and lighting. It’s also often said that parts of Iceland such as its barren highlands, are so otherworldly that people feel like they have arrived on planet Mars. Images captured by the Mars rover Curiosity certainly attest to their similarity. Not only that, a lava field in North Iceland served as a training ground for NASA astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, before their first expedition to the moon.
If Iceland weren’t astounding enough above the ground, there’s more to see beneath the surface. Iceland is home to hundreds of underground caves and many of them can be explored in all their wonder. It is even possible, during the summer, to go into a volcano for a closer look at one of Iceland’s bigger claims to fame.
8 SUBLIME ICELANDIC EXPERIENCES
There is nothing like lying on your back, looking up at clear skies on a dark winter’s night, and watching the riveting Northern Lights dance across the sphere. The show begins often out of the blue and is surely worth waiting for.
Iceland sits just below the Arctic Circle with the exception of one small island 40 kilometres off shore. Grímsey, a home to less than 100 people, is a bird watcher’s paradise with hundreds of thousands of birds.
The Arctic Circle
Due to its unique position on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Iceland is one of few places on Earth where it’s possible to be between continental plates. Walking between the North American and Eurasian plates is a nice reminder of our place in the Universe.
Given just how green Iceland gets, it’s not surprising that people wonder about the country’s seemingly misleading name. But there is actually a fair amount of ice in Iceland. Iceland is home to the biggest glacier in Europe and a tenth of its surface is covered by ice.
Under the volcanic landscape of Iceland there are endless caves and tubes with spectacular lava formations - only a small number have been explored or even discovered.
Benaeth The Surface
Summer in Iceland is a magical time. The whole island comes alive under the constant sunlight. Taking a stroll in the midnight sun will show you Iceland in another colour.
When the frost sets in, the snow is coming down, and the wind is blowing hard, it is time to head for the nearest pool or soak in a geothermal hot spring. The best way to experience the extremes of Icelandic nature is through its stark contrasts.
There is no place like Iceland to enjoy a peaceful time. The least densely populated country in Europe, Iceland will allow you to connect with nature and make you feel like the last person in the universe.
COST OF A PINT