First impressions when coming to Iceland
January 1, 1970
by Andrea Bastien
Perhaps, you think you know something about Iceland. Well, let me tell you, you know nothing (like Jon Snow). Iceland, the land of Ice and Fire is a complete surprise in all possible ways.
I spend five weeks in the country and let me tell you, it was surely not enough. Iceland is a place full of nature, good night life, weird food, amazing music and unforgettable landscapes, all of these come in a combination because you can totally enjoy a night a club and after the party watch the Northern Lights while walking home.
The first thing you notice when landing, or better say before landing, is the fact that Iceland seems to be covered in ice. It’s a unique experience to discover this lonely land through the plane window. From its first sight, Iceland is a unique experience, trust me.
The first picture I made of Iceland.
At the airport you may not notice yet how expensive Iceland actually is, because indeed, all airports are. However, ICELAND IS REALLY EXPENSIVE, trust me on this one. If you are a party animal like me, I recommend you to buy your alcohol in the duty free zone at the airport. As soon as your travel begins, you will start noticing this fact, especially if you are a low budget traveler. Everything seems to be that expensive, you’ll start considering selling a kidney (joke). But relax, there are plenty of choices to save some money.
Sky colours are irreplaceable.
Is it really cold?
But let’s start talking about the wonders of this country, despite of the fact that it’s an expensive country, Iceland is totally worth it. If you travel during winter, and you originate from a country with a warmer climate, like me (I’m Mexican), you should pack a waterproof jacket. Belief me, the snow makes everything very wet and cold. So yes, the first thing that comes to your mind when you arrive to Iceland will be; THIS COLD IS TERRIBLE!
But actually, it’s not. The cold in Iceland can make your toes feel like falling off, but you will survive by using some true Icelandic woolen socks. Remember that when you go to a cold place, you should dress in layers. While visiting Reykjavik, you’ll quickly realize that most of the Icelandic people wear sweaters that seem to be very old fashioned. These are however very typical sweaters, and more importantly, they are super warm. This garment is a hand-knitted woolen sweater, usually made by someone’s grandmother.
Gruska Babushka an Icelandic girl band performing in a bar.
Special little moments
Iceland is very special during winter, not only because of the Northern Lights, which let me tell you is definitely one of the most magical moments you will ever live, but also because each part of the day is different. Although you might have heard that Iceland becomes depressing because winter’s darkness, these are just mere rumors. It is true that the daylight lasts less long during winter, but meanwhile the hours that the sun is up the view is awesome. If the weather is at your side, there are some days that you will see the sun shining like you’ve never seen it before. One thing you have to understand is that the sun will never be right above you, it will always stay on the horizon. One of the most special hours of the day (at least for me), is when twilight starts. No matter how dark it seems, you can always appreciate a fine line of light that is weird and stunning. Dawn is also exceptional, mainly because it may be at 10 a.m. The bad news is that you will never know if it is late at night or just the afternoon. Good trick, ah?
When I fell in love with Iceland.
Reykjavik is the coolest city
The singularity of Reykjavik, is a thing to note. Houses and shops look totally different from other towns of the world, a city that I dare to describe as hipster and vintage. A plus: it is full of street art. It looks like Icelanders are lovers of the strange, they are odd and yes, they eat a lot of ice cream regardless winter (and you will do it too).
My favourite street art down in Reykjavik.
While exploring the city you will become aware of the fact that the streets are always covered with pure ice, no matter you don’t consider yourself as clumsy you should be really careful when you are walking on, probably you’ll be a little bit shocked because Icelandic people seem to be professional runners of ice but you should take it slowly, especially if you are a Latin as me and you are not used to snowy locations, just BE CAREFUL.
My first Icelandic ice-cream.
What about the Icelanders?
Of course, the land of Ice and Fire is full of good impressions, starting by Icelandic people, they are really open mind and also well learned, you will notice this while taking the tours, you will also notice it when talking to the hostel/hotel staff, they all know a lot of fun facts like tales and legends, wildlife and culture, you can be sure that all your questions about the country could be solved by any Icelander you meet. They are always friendly and really artistic people, almost all Icelanders are musicians or know how to do an extreme sport as snowboarding. And yes, you might be impressed cause they are never cold enough.
Hiking with an Icelandic boy.
It is possible that when you take the decision of going to Iceland your parents and friends will be really curious, cause yes, it is a strange destination to choose, but beyond what could people expect, Iceland is really touristy, in fact despite summer is the high season, the percentage of visitors during winter has increased, so don’t be surprised if downtown you feel as in Babel tower, you’ll be listening to all kinds of languages.
Plenty of things to do
Maybe you had checked out for the Blue Lagoon, a fancy geothermal spa that all tourists want to visit, in my experience, going there is cool, but not enough as the rest of Iceland, as far as you start knowing how this country works, you will notice there are plenty of tour companies that offer various options of activities and tours around it, be adventurous and try going snorkeling, hiking, or whale watching, I assure you these activities will create you the best memories of your life.
When I accepted to go to the Blue Lagoon.
It comes a moment when you become totally in love with the country, this will happen when you realize how in touch with the nature you can be without caring about the cold, the sky colors that will see above you will be the most special ones, and they can’t ever be capture in pictures. Iceland is popular for being the perfect location for photographers, and yes, they can have the most beautiful shots, but not as lovely as it is in real life.
My advice is: don’t keep Iceland as a place where you should go because others say it’s beautiful, go and see it by yourself.