Highlights from my recent visit to the mysterious winter wonderland of Europe.
An example of spontaneity at its finest: meeting two girls for the first time on a Saturday, then booking a trip to Iceland with them for the following Thursday. Normally I’m a little skeptical to plan things without any prior preparation, but I have to say my random visit to Iceland this past weekend was an absolute success.
Reykjavik was so incredibly peaceful that although we were staying in the middle of the capital city, the serene atmosphere made Iceland feel like a dream. The second I stepped out of the airport, the cold fresh air instantly energized me. The simple act of breathing suddenly felt like a privilege when you could taste and smell pure wilderness with every inhalation. The air contained hints of sulfur, but it created a raw, sharp aroma that revitalized the senses.
So you’re probably thinking, “why did she just spend a whole paragraph talking about air?”
I got carried away, but seriously, I’ve never breathed such fresh air before. It was amazing.
This sense of freshness and purity not only resonated in the natural aspects of Iceland, but in the architecture of Reykjavik. Most of the buildings conveyed simplicity and modesty through clean, neutral colors and immaculate structure. Complete with sleek monuments, historical statues and neat parks and a small pond, the town truly embodied the word “classy”.
However, a few splashes of color added some excitement to the calmness of Reykjavik. Here and there I found a few vibrantly painted buildings, and countless structures sported stunning street art. Not once did I find any of the common mindless, vulgar slogans or images spray painted onto a wall; every building was plastered with colorful, artistic masterpieces. I’ve never seen such incredible street art, and these wild paintings brought a sense of culture and creativity to the simplistic, neutral architecture.
While most of our trip consisted of sightseeing and exploring, we did treat ourselves to a day at the infamous geothermal pool, Blue Lagoon. The sight of the lagoon took my breath away, with foggy, periwinkle water oozing hot steam into the frigid air. Black volcanic rocks surrounded the pool full of tourists who were smearing white silica mud onto their faces, and a complimentary steam room added to the luxury of the experience.
Naturally when traveling, one must sample the local cuisine to get a taste for the culture. I tried wild crowberries, a famous Icelandic ice cream concoction, a popular dairy product called skyr, black lava crackers, and I even broke my vegetarianism momentarily just to take a bite of whale and puffin meat. I also sampled the traditional Icelandic alcohol called Brennivin, also known as the “Black Death”. It tasted exactly how I expected any strong liquor to taste: terrible. Luckily, I had some of the most delicious tap water ever to wash it down (No lie, every time I drank tap water in Iceland I was blown away by how fresh and clean it tasted).
So if there’s one thing I extracted from my visit to Iceland, it’s the overwhelming simplicity and purity that lingers in the air. The land exuded a refreshing, natural beauty, and Reykjavik might be the most pristine city I’ve ever explored.