My soul stayed behind when I left Iceland, and is now flying over the rugged mountains and flowing in the streams over the basalt columns, bubbling up from the thermal vents, playing with jotuns in the lava fields and horse riding on the high mountain platou.
Iceland must be the most beautiful island in the world. I haven`t seen it all, but I feel there is no more to see. This is the place.
The landscape is breathtaking! You have already heard that, of course, but I cannot stress this enough. Marvellous!
The climate is not that different from Norway, and western Norway, where I live, share some of that mountain-fjord feeling; the ice age U-shaped valleys. The main carvings of the land makes me feel at home; the shapes are familiar, but the texture, the surface, is so exotic! This is of course due to Iceland´s volcanic rocks; the rugged peaks on those mountains, the craters, the black lava scattered all around like numerous lurking trolls…
And the colours! Red iron specked rocks, green Racomitrium mosses, yellow birch and willow leaves and shades from black lava to grey basalt against blue skies and with white fumes rising from thermal fizzures.
All around is sheep and horses of traditional breeds that through small scale use have survived Man´s alteration of the animal body for more meat, more production, more money. No, these are small, natural, old style, furry, multicoloured sheep and horses with wits and instincts. However, the land is suffering from overgrazing and erosion. They are planting exotic, invasive species like Sitka Spruce and Lupins, since very few species can establish in the harsh conditions. I am kind of worried about this, but that is another story.
The language is poetry in my ears. I love the letters ð and þ, and the sharp r´s. Norway share a cultural history with Iceland, but Icelanders are closer to this Norse cultural heritage than us Norwegians, infected by the oil as we are, and having a spatial connection to Europe. The remotedness out on sea has preserved language as well cultural feelings in Iceland. Some people here even believe in trolls, just like me.
Iceland has no army! Just peace.
The city of Reykjavik is quite small and intimate. Everything is centered in one main street. Saturday night in Reykjavik is crazy. I should probably not have gotten so drunk, then I could better have seen how amazing this happy, intoxicated crowd probably was. However, I did contribute well to the spirit of the street.
I love Hostels. I love their atmosphere and how you always talk to strangers who also travel alone. You go eating and drinking with strangers, and travel further with strangers.
Across the street from my hostel I found my regular café! Café Hjomalind, with vegan food and the nicest people, art exhibition downstairs, and beautiful furniture. But they were no longer allowed to rent the place, and had to close the café down three days after I left!
I do not enjoy shopping. However, in Reykjavik, I scraped my account down to the last Icelandic króna.
I found a silverware store that sold entirely traditional jewellery. It is the most beautiful things I have seen; rings and arm rings like those found in Viking graves, bracelets shaped like Midgardsormen, earrings with dangling silver droplets, scythe formed earrings and much more.
The wool store! Oh my god. I spent half a day in there. The icelandic sheep are similar to the Old Norse sheep we have in Norway. The wool has another quality than that of the common sheep; it has two layers and more lanolin. Many products are knitted with the natural colours of the sheep: coke black, brown, red, different shades of gray, and white. The patterns are also traditional, and some of it was hand knitted. I also bought a sheep poster and a horse poster made by Bændasamtök Ìslands, the Farmers Association of Iceland.
Reykjavik is packed with second hand shops! Almost the entire street was filled with them! And the cooles clothes, I have never seen so much nice looking stuff gathered centered in one small place. They have a really good taste in Iceland. I usually hate shopping except from at second hand stores and fly markets. However, this place was the cream of the second hand stores powered by twenty!
Music. Just a few words. The traditional songs are just as cool as those we have in Norway. Iceland has a lot of bands, a lot of great stuff – I think they all seem to be very original. I have to post one of my favourite Björk songs:
For more Icelandic music, check out the Twitter list @gogoyoko/icelandicbands.