As our flight dipped closer to the city of Reykjavik, we braced ourselves for the trip of a lifetime. We were setting eyes on Iceland for the first time, and it was February, when winter’s supposed to be at its harshest.
The city boasts of some key cultural establishments such as the Harpa Concert Hall, inspired by the Icelandic landscape; and, the minimalist Hallgrímskirkja Church in the city centre. The church is also the tallest structure in Iceland. But after two days of exploring the city, we took off in a 4×4 Toyota, along Iceland’s south coast. Iceland is also known as the land of fire and ice, comprising volcanoes and mighty lava fields, as well as waterfalls, glaciers, black sand beaches and fjords. We experienced this duality as we travelled through the breathtaking landscape — all ethereal terrain, replete with black volcanic ash, along with patches of misty lakes, formed due to the winter rain.
Jökulsárlón had us spellbound. The ice-cold waves thrashed against the black sand beach there, creating pieces of ice that glittered under the sun like diamonds — it’s aptly named Diamond Beach.
Our main purpose of this adventure though, was the famed Aurora Borealis. So, we made our way to Seltjarnarnes — a small peninsula off the main coast. And there, we beheld for the very first time, the “dancing lights”, slow and dim in the beginning, soon changing into iridescent strokes of green and pink across the horizon.
However, the most unique thing about Iceland is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge — the meeting point of the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, that runs through the centre of the Thingvellir park, and of Iceland. It was like standing in the middle of a deep gorge. Except, this wasn’t a gorge but two tectonic plates protruding out of the earth.
Iceland, shaped by isolation, has to embrace the extreme forces of nature, but it definitely gives its people a reason to live in sync with each other and their natural surroundings.