An Icelandic holiday

We went to Iceland for a week and it was everything we hoped it would be: endless beauty, so much that it almost felt impossible to take it all in, as if your eyes or heart would burst if you kept trying. I think you can’t be indifferent to Iceland; there is no way to visit this little island and not feel moved by it.

A few photo highlights / (The complete album is here for those who are interested.)

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík

Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic church at the heart of Reykjavík.

Reykjavík

A great view of Reykjavík from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja.

Reykjavík harbor

The Reykjavík harbor around 11 pm. Yes. It’s a surreal experience, being in Iceland in the summer, and I’m not sure I ever got used to the feeling of endless sunlight, even as much as I loved the sensation. The perpetual light makes you feel full of energy; we didn’t want to eat dinner until 10 or 11 pm. And it’s also a great boon for exploration; you can keep driving and discovering all night long, because there is no darkness to hinder you. We did, however, feel very grateful for all of the blackout curtains at the places we stayed.

Reykjavík harbor

Another shot from the Reykjavík harbor in the late evening.

En route to Þingvellir

On our way to Þingvellir, a national park; the route looked mostly like what I imagine to be a softened version of Mars.

Þingvellir National Park

A view over Þingvellir.

Geysir

The beginning of the eruption of Geysir, the original geyser for which all geysers are named.

Gullfoss

And here we are at Gullfoss, the largest of the many magnificent waterfalls we saw.

The sociable Icelandic horse

I found the Icelandic horse to be a very sociable creature. From time to time, we’d pull over and I’d approach a fence, and they would all come running up to greet me, eager for interaction. Later in the trip, we took a horseback ride through lava fields and the countryside surrounding Reykjavík. We got to practice the tölt, the Icelandic horse’s special fifth gait (something between a trot and a canter), which was especially thrilling, even though I didn’t look at all like the commanding equestrienne I’ve always wanted to be.

Péturseyjarvegur

A shot from one of my favorite drives, around the area of Pétursey; I just cannot get over these farms.

Akranes

A charming glimpse of the town of Akranes, which we stumbled on by accident. We saw dozens and dozens of trailers, RVs, and little tents set up all around town, and we finally asked someone what was going on. We had arrived right on the cusp of the nationwide youth football tournament; everyone who has a soccer-playing kid from around the entire country treks to Akranes every June to camp out and attend the tournament.

Hraunfossar

The landscape and the countless little waterfalls at Hraunfossar were also a great favorite of ours. I mean, look at this place. Give me a break, Iceland. Give me a break.

Icelandic sheepdog at Deildartunguhver

Being who I am, I got very excited to meet a few bonafide Icelandic sheepdogs on the journey. This chubby little funster was hanging out in the parking lot of Deildartunguhver, home to Europe’s hottest naturally occurring hot spring. No one responsible for him was in sight; he just seemed to want to be around the action. He wagged and grinned at us and was eager for pets (rolling over on his back) but completely unwilling to make a move in our direction. We petted him for a few moments, and then three riders came trotting by on horses, and he perked up and sped off after them. I was stunned that this lazy little dude could move like that; he was booking. “I guess he really likes horses,” Guion said, solemnly.

Kirkjufell on a bright morning

A view of the spectacular Kirkjufell from Grundarfjörður, where we spent a night in a hostel. We met a delightful French couple that night and talked with them for hours about our respective countries, politics, language, and the pitfalls of thinking that other nations have achieved perfection.

Ubiquitous lupin

Lupin is ubiquitous in Iceland. It was apparently introduced to help control erosion, but then it took over and sprawled out of reach. What a pretty invasive plant, though.

Rauðfeldargjá

The stunning gorge at Rauðfeldargjá, which you can climb up into (and which we did, among the faintly creepy scores of seagulls).

It’s a breathlessly beautiful country, and as we were leaving, we were already scheming about how we could get back there one day.

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