Column: Crossing Iceland off my bucket list

In Columns, Lifestyle
River coming down from rocks in Iceland
(Dominique Kaye Villamore / Daily Titan)

When most people think of their dream travel destination, Iceland probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind. However, Iceland is one of the most diverse sights in the world and definitely warrants a place on someone’s bucket list.

I’d like to consider myself a well-traveled person since I’ve been to several countries, but Iceland is definitely a country that has left a lasting impression on me.

My family and I landed at Keflavik International Airport  at around 9 a.m., after an 11-hour flight. Despite the jet lag we felt due to the 8-hour time difference, we got on a bus and went straight from the airport to the Blue Lagoon.

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Iceland, known for its geothermal hot springs. It lived up to its name, with opaque blue waters surrounded by volcanic rock. The water is like a natural spa, with average temperatures from 98 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit—nice enough to hop right in.

Since we were only there for three days, we were determined to take in as much of Iceland as possible. So, the next morning we boarded a bus for our 12-hour tour around the Golden Circle and South Coast. While the country stays true to its name and is quite cold, Iceland is actually very green and has no shortage of water, which became clear the more we explored.

Our first stop at Thingvellir, the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, left me in awe. I was torn between staring at the scene in front of me and snapping away furiously with my camera. We also stopped by Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss, two very large waterfalls that you could walk right up to. The last stop was Reynisfjara, one of Iceland’s most popular black sand beaches.

Being able to get close to a waterfall is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far. That being said, I definitely recommend waterproofing everything.

The hotel we stayed at was in the middle of downtown Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, giving us the perfect opportunity to walk around and explore the city. Reykjavik is a collection of small buildings and streets, which are covered with intricate, colorful artwork. I would recommend seeing Reykjavik on foot in order to be able to experience the atmosphere properly.

We also visited the popular landmark, Hallgrímskirkja Church. From the viewing platform of the church, there’s a breathtaking view of Reykjavik in all directions.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the Northern Lights due to the rainy weather. That alone would be worth the trip and I would jump at the chance to go back.

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Iceland to see its natural wonders for myself, and it definitely felt like a once in a lifetime experience. Traveling to Iceland has been an enriching experience and a good opportunity to learn about a different culture.

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