What Iceland has given me

August 13, 2011 at 9:12 pm (Uncategorized)

This is my last night in Iceland so technically this is the last blog post.  I’ve thought about how I could best conclude my experience here and the more I think about it the more caught up I get in all the different things I’ve encountered on this magical journey and how I could ever put these in to words.

The truth is it’s beyond me to sum up just what these three months in Iceland have given me, other than to say they have been transformative on every level of my being.  Physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually I feel completely re-charged.  I know in my heart that if you give yourself the opportunity to lose your self in Iceland, what you will receive in return is limitless.

Summer in Iceland is truly spectacular.  Her endless light shines on you and shows you your true self.  Nothing can hide from the light.  For me it symbolises enhanced awareness about your self, your relationships, your whole life…  

The vast space will allow you to open up to yourself, to others and to the endless possibilities available to you.  She gives you the space to take stock, to think, to ponder.  Endless space to pause and reflect.  In her beautiful emptiness you can feel completely alone yet totally safe.  She is nurturing.

She is nature. Wild and free.  She will show you your own true nature and reconnect you with the land.  You can’t help but feel her wild presence, it’s everywhere you go. 

All around you will experience the duality inherent in this volcanic land.  She is hot and cold, hard and soft, flat and mountainous.  She is everything all at once.  She will arouse your senses.  She will stupefy you.

A few days here are not enough.  If you want to truly experience the gifts this country can give, you must surrender yourself to her for a period of time.  It won’t take long to feel the magic.  Find your self in the remotest regions of this volcanic and spiritual land.

She will stay with you long after you leave.

Iceland will steal your heart, but I gave her mine freely.

 

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the sky over Reykjavik

August 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm (Uncategorized)

Do you know what I’ll really miss when I leave here in less than two weeks?  The sky.  There are no words to describe the beauty of the sky here at night.  The sunsets (or not) have been some of the most stunning sights I’ve ever captured with my eyes.  I think the sky in Iceland affects you on every level, it’s almost like soft soothing music being played to you all the time, altering your moods.  Every night you get to hear a new song…

 

 

 

 

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West Fjords, Akureyri, Húsavík and Mývatn Pt.2

July 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm (Uncategorized)

Woo, Part 2 of my awesome adventure to West Fjords and North Iceland.  If you missed Part 1 you can find it here.

First off, I made this video of the plane landing in Ísafjörður.  It wasn’t actually that scary.

So I left you at the bit where I’d decided to hitch hike to Húsavík to check out the whale and penis museum.  Hitch hiking in Iceland is extremely safe and commonplace.  It’s such a shame that it’s viewed as unsafe in other countries and something to be scared of.

I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous mostly because I’d never done it before and wasn’t sure what to expect.  But with anything in life, the things you’re scared of are the things to be faced and overcome…

I went to the bus station in the first instance and after learning that the return trip to Húsavík was 7000ISK (approx £37) I decided sod it, I’m going to do it.  The man at the station told me where to go (for hitch hiking purposes of course) and after one second of holding out my thumb a lovely Icelandic man stopped for me.  We spent half an hour chatting, well, he chatted mostly, telling me ALL about his family, where they lived, where they grew up etc.  Lovely.

As he could only drop me half way I was on the road again only to be picked up two minutes later by a Swedish family who took me all the way to Húsavík.  Awesome!

Húsavík is a quiet little fishing town which has gained the reputation for being the best place to go whale watching in the whole of Iceland.  This is pretty much the main business of the town.  It also has some stunning views.

 

The whale museum is good enough.  Full of stuff about whales, no surprise there, including massive skeletons.  Cool stuff.

Húsavík hosts the Icelandic Phallological Museum (seems I’m incapable of pronouncing that word) which is a quirky collection of the penises of about 200 animals.  Yes indeed, the lovely curator of this museum has lovingly (err) collected the penis of anything from mouse to whale to cat to donkey to…you get the idea.  It was…interesting.  I shouldn’t have eaten beforehand though, I left feeling quite queasy and a little bit unsure of myself 🙂

Hitched it back to Akureyri with a lovely young couple from Germany and hung out in Akureyri for the rest of the day.

Akureyri has a lovely feel about it, very pretty, colourful and definitely worth a visit.  The views are just outstanding as the town lies on the edge of the Fjord overlooked by the most stunning mountain range.

There’s a lovely little shop called Brynja that is claimed to sell the best ice cream in the whole of Iceland!  There was a constant stream of locals going in and out the whole time I was there.  Apparently it’s the locally sourced ingredients that make all the difference!

The next day, having caught the hitching bug, I decided to hitch it to Mývatn.

I’ve decided that Mývatn (translated as Midge Lake – the midges don’t bite but they can be a slight pain in the arse) is the most exquisite place I’ve visited in Iceland.  The mixture of adventure, bright sunshine and breath-taking scenery made this one of the best days I’ve spent here in Iceland…if not my whole life!

I walked and hitched right round the Lake.

After Lake Mývatn I hitched with a lovely Norwegian girl to Goðafoss (translated as God falls) which is one of THE most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.  This is where the lawmaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði (trying saying that when you’ve had a drink…actually, try saying that without one!) chucked the statues of the pagan idols over the waterfall when Iceland made the decision to adopt Christianity.  Awesome.

Spectacular day.  Truly you must come to Iceland.  You MUST.

Hitched back to Akureyri (total saving by hitching = £80) and spent a few hours before flying back to Reykjavik.

Check out all the photos from the trip here and here (esp Lake Mývatn ones)

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West Fjords, Akureyri, Húsavík and Mývatn Pt.1

July 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm (Uncategorized)

I’m back in Reykjavik following an EPIC journey from Reykjavik to West Fjords to North East Iceland.  You can check out my route on this stupendous map thing:

MAP OF EMMA’S AMAZING ROUTE OF EPIC AWESOMENESS

You know I’ve been banging on about West Fjords pretty much ever since I got here.  Everyone that I’ve spoken to about them has agreed they are the most beautiful part of Iceland.  Having been there, I’d have to join the consensus.  Nothing prepares you for the vast level of awe that overtakes you when you arrive.  Every sense is awakened here.  They are…poetry!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Seljavallalaug & Seljalandsfoss

July 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm (Uncategorized)

Best day ever!  My lovely and amazing friend Auður took me for a day trip to the South a couple of days ago to visit Seljavallalaug & Seljalandsfoss.  Seljavallalaug is a hot spring fed pool literally in the middle of the moutains.  It’s quite honestly the most exsquisite place to visit and only about an hour or so away from Reykjavik.  It’s very near last year’s eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.   You have to walk through gorgeous black sand and along the base of the mountains to get to it.  It’s probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited.  Afterwards we drove to Seljalandsfoss which is a giant waterfall.  You can walk behind it.  The sound and scenery are just breath-taking.  Check it out.

I obviously didn’t take this photo.  Unfortunately my camera broke when we finished swimming.  That kinda makes things a bit tricky for the blog but I’ll figure something out 🙂

Needless to say my plans have gone a bit astray.  I do have a trip to the West Fjords planned for 19th July then heading to Akureyri (the second capital) after that before flying home.

Too awesome!

 

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why travelling is all about the plastic bottles, fermented cheese and nose piercing

July 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted on the rawiceland blog.  Wow, that sounds like some sort of intro to a self-help group or religious confession doesn’t it?  Ouch!  Bloggers anonymous almost.  Hah!  Moving on.  Having blogged for some time now (I have another blog) I’m all too familiar with the guilty feelings at having left a blog for too long without an update.  It’s like someone who you’ve been on a few dates with and haven’t called back.  The longer you leave it the harder it gets to summon up the courage to put fingers to keyboard…

The truth is that it crossed my mind I haven’t anything of merit to share with you.  I haven’t been up to that much that’s seemed worthy of your attention.  But then I remembered, I don’t actually want this to be a travel blog.  This isn’t meant to be me telling you about all the touristy things you can do if you come to Iceland.  There are probably half a billion other sites that could tell you that much better than I ever could.

On top of that it’s not in my nature to bungee jump off glaciers at midnight whilst watching whales and tasting puffin. 

Of course there are things I want to do whilst I’m here and I’ll get to them in my own sweet time without feeling guilty that I’m not being ‘travellery enough’.  That’s silly.  I can’t be expected to be off adventuring every single moment I’m here…can I?


What I can do is share with you how this trip, this magical place is moulding and shaping me.  What it’s meaning to me to be here.  No other site can do that for you.

Apart from anything else I’ve realised that whilst I’ve been here I have been adventuring.  I’ve probably discovered more about myself than I have about this wonderful island.

I’ve dipped and sipped in and out of coffee addiction

Swithered and swooned over carrot cake crumbs

Embraced flavoured fermented cheese drinks. I’m talking Skyr people!

Got to meet one of my heroines, and see her naked!

Marvelled at a plastic bottle making factory…ok marvelled is probably a massive exaggeration but still, how many people can say they’ve been to a plastic bottle making factory in Selfoss?  I’m guessing less than 10 and 7 of them work there…

Met an incredible artist and physically felt her passion oozing as she talked about her paintings and what they meant

Struggled in amusement with locals that can’t understand a word I’m saying…refreshingly they don’t all speak English

Discussed Scottish politics with an old Icelandic man by the water fountain at the indoor swimming pool

Lost myself (figuratively speaking) in D.H. Lawrence, F.Scott. Fitzgerald and more recently Anais Nin at the library

Lost myself (in physical actuality) in the harbour…twice

Visited glaciers, volcanoes and fishing villages

Got my nose pierced

Lay on the grass and watched the world go by

Made new friends and connections

Discovered I have an almost violent fascination with travelling

And I’m still only half way in!

To me travelling is about doing, seeing and being a part of things that I can’t when I’m at home.  It’s about new surroundings, new people, a step in to the unknown and to open up and surrender, to let a place touch your soul.  It’s not about frantically deciding what and where I should go next and how to fit in all the things I want to do.  To me that detracts from the experience.

For that reason, I’ve realised I don’t have to be doing anything more than I already am to really embody the essence of what travel is all about for me.  And I’m happy with that. 

Til next time 🙂

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Vesturland – Snæfellsnes

June 20, 2011 at 2:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, )

A few days ago I had the most delicious trip to Vesturland (West Iceland of course).  I did contemplate doing it for myself but ended up going on an organised tour with Reykjavik Excursions.  It was only an extra 2000ISK (£11) to have a guided tour.  I’m so glad I did.  Apart from a young man who was on the tour who insisted on snorting from the back of his throat every 2 minutes (I didn’t time him, that’s merely an estimation), it was quite wonderful!  The area is one giant National Park surrounded by quaint fishing towns and the most breath-taking scenery you ever laid eyes on.

The destination was the Snæfellsnes region, a peninsula situated to the west of Borgarfjörður.  The area is well known for its magical properties as there you can find the Snæfellsjökull volcano, the setting for Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Vernes.  The area is meant to represent the heart chakra of planet earth!  Apparently if you draw a line from the pyramids of Giza to the magnetic North Pole it cuts through Iceland at precisely this area.  It’s certainly renowned as a high energy and magnetic (even healing) area and everyone that visits leaves a piece of their heart here.  I know I did!

The mountain is un-rivalled in its majesty and awe inspiring magnitude!

The tour made stops all around the peninsula and each place we stopped was more beautiful than you could imagine.  Check it out:

The rest of the photos from the trip can be found here.

Needless to say my itinerary has gone completely to arse now.  Next stop after a few days more guzzling coffee in Reykjavik is the West Fjords! 

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Litli Bóndabærinn

June 20, 2011 at 1:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

YES, I shall stop blogging about coffee very soon I assure you but first I need to tell you about my latest love, Litli Bóndabærinn (The Little Farm).  Litli Bóndabærinn is a cute coffee and cake cafe on the main drag of Laugavegur.  My lovely new friend Auður suggested we meet there last week and as soon as I walked in I was literally swept away by the awesome vibe emanating from the place.  Actually, scrap the swept away bit, I was full-blown assaulted by the place.  Assaulted in a good way of course!  Mainly by the lovely owner David who greets you from behind the counter more bright, vibrant and warmly than the sun!  He’s like pure magma I tell you.  As soon as we got chatting I fell instantly in love with the place and didn’t want to leave!  Ever.

Litli Bóndabærinn offers a 100% organic, fair trade and eco-conscious coffee experience using unhomogenised milk and offering a beautiful selection of coffee syrups (including dandelion!) and tasty treats handmade in the shop (I’ve watched him do it).  David makes the most delightful food created using fresh, local ingredients and traditional cooking methods.  He is delightful in his approach of supporting local, small-scale farmers and I was blown away by his vast knowledge of local food in Iceland.  This guy doesn’t just talk the talk, he’s inventing a brand new walk baby!

Apart from anything else he makes the most exquisite coffee and when you leave the place you feel ultimately lifted and ecstatic about the world!  For best results let him choose a coffee for you, you won’t leave disappointed. 🙂

 

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Seltjarnarnes & Grótta Island

June 15, 2011 at 10:22 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Today I took a cycle to Seltjarnarnes which is on the tip of the Reykjavik peninsula.  You can get there really easily along the cycle/walking route that follows the shoreline.  Most of Seltjarnarnes is a nature reserve.  It was so clear today I could see Snæfellsjökull glacier!  There is a small island called Grótta that is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip which is usually flooded during the tide.  It also has its own lighthouse and lots of birds.  I couldn’t get across to the Island as it’s shut at the moment due to birds nesting.  Sweet.

Here are some pics

It was so beautiful in Reykjavik today, the Summer has really kicked in!

Looking forward to my trip to Snæfellsnes on Friday!

 

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today in Reykjavik

June 13, 2011 at 9:26 pm (Uncategorized)

Still arsing about Reykjavik.  I do have my escape planned for later in the week when I’m going to Snæfellsnes!  It’s going to be awesome.

Here’s some arsing about pics from today.  It was a religious holiday today.  Something to do with Jesus going to heaven or something.  So everything was shut including the Thai Supermarket I traipsed half way across town to visit.  Whoever closes a Thai supermarket on a Christian holiday I ask you?

Anyway, as you’ll see I’ve been very busy 🙂

Chai Latte at Kaffitár

It’s so safe here that women leave their babies in prams outside shops and cafes!  Safe innit?  There are so many old fashioned prams here – I think it’s so cool!

Soya Latte at Grái Kötturinn (grey cat).  It’s a cool joint off the beaten track (aka Laugavegur) kinda a cross between Ian Beale’s caf and a sophisticated book shop 🙂  I just picked up that book off the many shelves here by the way, it was shite don’t buy it…

Grái Kötturinn

Americano at Café Babalu

I was tempted to write something on the wall as I had some chalk but then I didn’t have anything exciting to share like this guy

Somebody tell me what to write and I’ll write it and take a picture 🙂

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