This year I will be going to Iceland for my fifth time. People are already making fun. “Why don’t you go somewhere new?” they ask. “It’s a big world.”
Yes, but the bay above called to me. Without seeing it, I suddenly drove off the road, parked in a meadow and started walking into the wind. Soon, I crested a headland and was here. Soon after that, I discovered that the beach was watching me as closely as I was watching it.
Seeing new things often means going home. The land welcomes one with speech, when one is patient and listens.
… makes its own weather…
… in its own shape, just faster.
And then wraps itself in it. So does the land give voice to the sea.
So many travellers spend a week, or less, driving around Iceland to see everything, in the pattern of a modern “grand tour.” A more-authentic Icelandic experience would be to sit down with a mountain and learn …
… it’s not just sitting there.
Sure, you can sneak up on a waterfall, but it can also sneak up on you.
Hey, it’s just as much fun as picking up cigarette butts in Reykjavik, eh.
Or fooling yourself into thinking you are sneaking up on a troll.
Or lying in wait for the sun, trying to look like a block of ice. Loads of fun, that.
And just try to sneak up on an Icelandic horse.
All together now!
You can walk behind Seljalandsfoss.
Wear a coat. Just a hint.
A million people come here every year. Bit of a muddy path. Very pretty, though.
Tour busses everywhere. Wait your turn.
Or you can sneak off to the Kistá, on Snæfellsnes, which has trolls. Real trolls. You can see a big one lurking in front of the fall below. Sorry, not on the must-see-waterfalls of Iceland lists. But it’s just off the road. You can sniff it out on the edge of the Berserker Lava Field.
Bit of a brown place in November, but it greens up real nice in the summer. Oh, and there’s a second troll leaning over the cataract, so a bonus!
Nice. If you were four metres tall you could reach high tup from your waterfall lair and scratch her under the chin, even! Oh, yeah, one more thing. Bit of a muddy path. You can approach the falls from both sides, but only on the north side can you get underneath. Sorry, no crowds.
Way up the fjord. Nothing happening? Not true. You are! Stop the car. Get out. Wait.
Ah, here they come.
Like I said.
Never alone. Ever.
The snow’s falling, the budget is tight, you’re sitting in your rental car trying to defrost two hours from a cafe, and it’s lunch time. What to do? May I suggest …
Icelandic flatbread, a Danish twisted donut, herring-beet-apple salad, skyr (fresh-cheese-yoghurt with zero fat and 17g of protein — I like pear or blueberry the best, but there are a lot of other flavours, too), and the one you love. Cost? About a third of a cup of tea and 10% of a bowl of soup in Reykjavik. At this rate, you might be able to afford dinner! And by the time you’re done, you might be able to see out!
You want to stick close to it. What you want to avoid is water and ice.
Let the sheep risk that stuff. Such is the knowledge of a people whose origins are in “settlement” and not colonization — a people for whom “land” is a “landing”, a being lifted out of the sea. You don’t forget a thing like that. The darned thing keeps coming back.