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Discovering Iceland: The Land of Ice and Fire

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This article was originally published in print in the January 2018 edition of Emersons Green Voice and sister publications.

“Justine, look!” My partner, Scott nudged me and pointed out of the airplane window. I looked down and gasped as I could see miles of snow and ice. We were finally flying over Iceland, a country that had long been on our travel wishlists; making March earlier this year, the month that made the dream a reality.

Whilst staying in a traditional log cabin near the small town of Laugarvatn, we could easily drive to extraordinary highlights of the Golden Circle including Gullfoss waterfall, Strokkur Geysir, Thingvellir National Park and the Secret Lagoon spa.

Öxarárfoss Waterfall

Our first day was spent exploring Thingvellir National Park. We paid 500 ISK (Icelandic Króna) and parked at the Visitor Centre so we could marvel at the great Almannagjá tectonic fault and Öxarárfoss waterfall.

And over the next few days, we saw more incredible sights. Gullfoss waterfall made me physically exclaim “Wow!” and Strokkur Geysir gave us many exciting shows as it erupts roughly every 5 minutes. One tip I have for the Geysir is to stand on its left and look out for the giant azure bubble that foretells an eruption. It’s like seeing a sapphire erupt into the sky before becoming a shower of diamonds. (Only a truly extraordinary sight could inspire such poetry!)

strokkur-geysir-iceland-hot-spring

In search of a natural hot spring, we decided against the popular Blue Lagoon, simply because of the price and the hoards of people expected to be there. Instead, we chose the Secret Lagoon – although not quite as much of a secret now, you do need to know it’s there as you won’t find any signposts. It was magical inside the pool. Snow fell all around us, steam billowed skywards; hot and cold colliding.

On our final day, we explored the South Coast, a part of the trip that held many surprises. Firstly, we found several waterfalls (less famous than Gullfoss) but still with a superb magic of their own. We walked behind Seljalandsfoss, admired Skógafoss from above and found Gljúfrabúi hidden behind large cliffs, where two rock crevices frame its beauty. Personally, I adored the secret vibe this last waterfall had to offer.

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

We also found Sólheimasandur black sand beach on the South Coast, which is home to a plane crash from the 1970s. This is a lesser-known black sand beach in comparison with the likes of Vik or Diamond Beach but it’s certainly no less glorious. In fact, this beach inspired such romance and wonder that it was here where my boyfriend became my fiancé.

So I guess you could say this beach (and in fact all of Iceland) holds a very special place in my heart… for the beauty of the country itself, for the memories made here and for all of the secrets just waiting to be discovered. But to be honest, the snowy landscape, natural hot springs, geysers and magnificent waterfalls are enough to make any traveller starry-eyed.

Iceland – land of ice and fire, I applaud you!

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Justine Jenkins

Justine is one half of the married couple behind the Wanderers of the World travel blog. She lives in Bristol, UK and has travelled extensively within Europe and beyond since 2013. After her trips, she shares detailed travel itineraries, helpful travel guides and inspiring blog posts about the places she's been to. When she's not travelling overseas, you'll find her joining her husband, Scott on various day trips, weekend getaways and walks within the UK, which she also writes about on Wanderers of the World. Aside from travelling and writing, she also loves reading, crafting and learning about nature.

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