I posted two updates about two days in the Faroe Islands, but haven’t updated about Iceland yet, despite that being the much longer part of the trip. Part of that is that I did enjoy the Faroe Islands more. Though they have a population of only 50,000, it felt much more lived in than much of Iceland. Iceland has a population of about 300,000, and in 2016 is projected to have 6 million tourists over the course of the year. In summer, so much of Iceland’s work is given over to tourism, and there are so many tourists, that it feels more like a national park than a country with its own heritage.
I am very glad we went, though. There is no substitute for actually being in a place to write about it. Just like I could never have imagined the steep beauty of Norway’s fjords before visiting it, I could never have imagined the bleakness, the alienness, and the way that Iceland’s landscape feels inhuman and intimidating before visiting. And it is beautiful, in a harsh, severe way.
I have heard it is sometimes warm there, but it never got above 55 degrees F when we were there, and it was below 40 at night. We rented a van with a mattress in the back and camped every night as we drove the ring road.
Iceland is known for its stunning waterfalls, and we saw three with very different characters. Gulfoss, in a field of wildflowers:
Dettifoss, cutting through Iceland’s nearly lifeless highlands. If there were a waterfall on Miranda, a moon of Uranus, this is what it would feel like:
And here is Goðafoss, which was so stunning in the sunlight all it needed was a unicorn leaping through the rainbow.
Stay tuned for more–glaciers, hotsprings, museums in Part 2.