Saturday, 7 July 2012

"Hey Tia, We Are In Iceland"

After seeing a post by a fellow photographer's trip to Iceland a few years ago I dreamed of seeing this small, isolated country. His works had already led me to many other stunning photo opportunities of waterfalls, mountains and volcanos. Then there were those awesome shots of Eyjafjallajökull erupting (before all the planet's planes were grounded) - who could say no to this crazy, active landscape!

I was rapt when we finally actually booked flights to this fairytale land. All the planets must have aligned for this trip, including making my old man shock us all by booking flights to England with dates that worked with our fresh plans. Even after a few hours of sleep I still cannot believe I am here.

After a few hours of shut-eye (essential after a 2am arrival), we picked up an electric blue Suzuki Swift at Keflavik airport and headed to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavík.

The Swift, Iceland
We didn't get far before I had to stop and take some pictures. I had never laid eyes on this sort of landscape before - a volcanic desert. The odd, lumpy ground, with nothing more than soft moss growing over it, stretched as far as the eye could see. And then just around the corner was my first sight of a huge geothermal power-station (one of the dominant forms of electricity generation on the island) which happened to be right beside the famous Blue Lagoon. Its blue waters looked similar to the blue lakes in New Zealand but with an additional silvery white glisten to it.

Our first geothermal Power Station -  Reykjavík
We finally made it to the capital, parked the Swift, and headed to the CBD. I had been getting to high points in towns lately and the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral tower grabbed my attention. Having spent the last month and a bit surrounded by centuries-old buildings, Hallgrimskirkja was a refreshing sight with its modern design.

Ceiling at Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral - Reykjavík
Upon reaching the top of the tower the real surprise kicked in. Iceland has a total population of only 320 000, and of that approximately half lived in the capital. However this place was more like a village than the massive multi-million people capitals we had seen in the past year.

Iceland's capital city, population 119,108 - Reykjavík
But what it lacked in scale it made up for with an impressive art scene, a down-to-earth outdoorsy attitude, a laid-back and chilled atmosphere, and friendly Icelandic people who spoke better English than me. Reykjavík's streets just keep oozing with coolness every corner we turned. You only have to look at the great bands that are coming out of this tiny rock to see that they had done something right. After some nice Thai noodles for dinner we called it an early night knowing we had a long drive the next day, a little disappointed we didn't carry on and have Friday drinks with the locals while listening to the live bands.

We headed north the next day with a rough route and no real destination. So excited and still pinching ourselves, are we really in Iceland?

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