Iceland Travel Blog
“Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
Jonathan Safran Foer wrote this quote in his novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is a story about a young boy struggling from the loss of his father in the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City.
Today is September 11, 2016, the 15th anniversary of the attack. Today also marks exactly one week since I returned home from my trip to Iceland, and so today, I am a mixture of emotions. I’m thinking about the amount of lives that were lost 15 years ago for no good reason at all. I’m thinking about the experiences those people were not able to have and how their general experiences of life were catastrophically cut short. I’m thinking about how some of them had plans to travel and see the world they live in, but instead spent their last morning in this world travelling to the office.
I’m thinking about myself and how lucky I am to be alive but also about how much time I spend not living life to the absolutely fullest. This quote really speaks to me because this is how I feel all of the time. I feel that there is so much in this world that I haven’t seen or that I won’t ever get to see. I feel that there are so many other ways I could be living my life, but all of my past choices have somehow brought me here instead. How do you know if you are really living life the way you’re supposed to? How do you choose a path and know it’s the right one? It’s a complicated and uncomfortable thought to have, and Jonathan Safran Foer described it perfectly. Being in Iceland, however, was my relief.
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I’ve been fortunate enough in my life to do quite a bit of travelling. I’m from Ontario, Canada and so far I have been to two other provinces, five states in the USA, and 14 European countries. After all of these destinations, I feel completely confident in saying Iceland is the most unique country I have ever been to. I found a feeling of peace and serenity there that I have never experienced before. I finally felt like I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time; like I was living the life that I wanted to be living instead of wishing I had someone else’s. The feeling was incredibly liberating and I know that I will be searching to find that feeling again for the rest of my life.
Let me start at the beginning. I went to Iceland for only 3 days – yes, this is all it took for me to fall completely in love with the place. I went with my boyfriend of 8 years, Brad. When booking our trip to Iceland, Brad and I decided that since we had such little time in the country, it would be a better idea to rent a camper van for the duration of our stay so that we could drive to wherever we wanted and see as many sights as possible. Let me tell you, this was the best decision we ever made. While Reykjavik is an amazing city (we spent a few hours there for dinner one night), you really haven’t seen Iceland unless you explore its landscapes.
Since we only had a short time in Iceland, we had to choose between driving along the Southern coast or driving North to see the Fjords. It was very difficult to choose which route and we would have loved to do both, but we ended up selecting the Southern route. Our main reasoning for this was because my top-choice activity on my list of things to do in Iceland was swimming in a hot spring lagoon. Thus, we began our journey travelling to Secret Lagoon, a hot spring about an hour East of Reykjavik.
Now, in Toronto, Ontario, where I’m from, you need to drive at least several hours to start to see landscapes other than city skyscrapers or residential areas. In Iceland, however, the beauty began five minutes outside of the capital city. And then it never stopped. Our first glimpse of Iceland, once we picked up our camper van and started driving, was humungous mountains 100 yards away from one side of the highway and flat, black sandy beaches on the other side of it. It was the most fascinating thing I have ever seen – such different views when I turned my head left or right. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before.
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Our trip was off to a great start. We were able to listen to our favourite tunes in the camper van while driving through beautiful scenery and exploring a fascinating country. When we got to Secret Lagoon, we were awe-struck. To anyone looking at travelling in Iceland, I strongly recommend checking this place out. It is a quiet, tranquil environment where you can sit, relax, and enjoy nature at its finest. The naturally warm water is so soothing that it’s almost impossible to think of any problems you may have left behind at home. I really could have spent an entire day there just to escape my own head for a while, and if Brad and I had had more time, I probably would have! But we needed to move on, as there was so much more of Iceland to see.
While we were driving, Brad and I would pull over every so often simply to take in the amazing views we were driving through. These small moments were probably the most significant ones. There were times on the road when we did not see another person or vehicle for hours. When we would get out of the van, the air was so crisp and refreshing – it was truly invigorating – that we would take little walks around to get a break from the driving. Our sunset stroll, in particular, was truly a sight to see.
Now, coming from Toronto, a major city in Canada, I have to say, it’s almost impossible to find a completely quiet outdoor space to simply be alone with your thoughts. Iceland is the exact opposite. There’s a certain feeling that washes over you when you’re standing outside and you’re able to shout at the top of your lungs and not have a single other person hear you. It makes you feel small. It reminds you that there are bigger things in this world than you and the problems that life has brought you. It makes you feel like you can do anything, go anywhere, and make any changes that you want to make. It makes you feel ALIVE!
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I would not change a single second of my time in Iceland. I wouldn’t change swimming in a natural hot spring created from a volcano. I wouldn’t change sleeping under the stars and catching glimpses of the shiny, green, BEAUTIFUL Northern Lights above us. I wouldn’t change cooking bacon and eggs right outside our camper van, 200 yards away from a glacier.
I wouldn’t change driving through mountainous landscapes filled with sheep, wild horses, and waterfalls. It honestly doesn’t get much more beautiful than the sights I saw in Iceland. Never again do I want to feel pained by the thought that I’m not living the life that I should be living. I don’t wish this feeling on anyone. That’s why it’s important to GET OUT THERE and explore the world you live in! Iceland taught me that it’s possible to do the unexpected and to go to places where I never thought I would go. I would do anything to go back there and I strongly recommend that no matter what you do or where you go in life, please save some time for this amazing country. Please do yourself a favor, and travel Iceland.
Read more: Amazing Iceland
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