Iceland: The Beauty Queen

It’s generally acknowledged that the Icelandic people are a beautiful lot. The men, tall and ruggedly handsome. The girls greet you with their pale blue eyes, fresh faces and perfectly rounded features. But, it’s the beauty of the country itself that is the show-stopper.

As countries stack up, Iceland is a triple threat. She is physically stunning, can cook like a boss, and she’s just so darn likeable. She is like a little beauty pageant contestant always reaching into her bag of tricks to impress the judges. “I’ve got rainbows and fairies. Do you like mountains? I’ve got volcanoes with hot tubs at the top. Look at my waterfalls and midnight sunsets. What? Smile for the camera? Cheese… I’m a beauty!”

Touring Snaefellsjokull National Park is like going to an amusement park for thrill-seekers. Made famous by Jules Verne in his novel, A journey to the Centre of The Earth, it is easy to get carried away in the the stories and mysteries of the land.

“That is Snaefellsjokull a mountain about five thousand feet in height, one of the most remarkable in the whole island, and certainly doomed to be the most celebrated, for through its crater we shall reach the centre of the earth.”

-Journey To the Centre of the Earth, Ch. 4

Looking down into the massive crater I can spot a small cave. Maybe that’s the entry point. The moss grows thick over the jagged rocks surrounding the crater. It’s like Mother Nature has thrown a shag rug over her children’s toys. Tiny, resilient patches of flowers peek out from under boulders. In the distance, I can see Djepalonssander beach sparkling in the late afternoon sun. Humpback whales circle in the distance.

Songhellir, the singing cave, is another secret in this park. This cave is known for its acoustics. I test it out… even the cave can’t make a singer out of me.

Next we drive up a steep, winding road to the Snaefellsjokull glacier. The word on the street is that it is a meeting pace for aliens. It makes perfect sense as it feels spooky and other-worldly. Let’s check off another item on the list of awesome things to do today.

Driving out of the park we spot another point of interest sign. I would highly recommend stopping at each point of interest sign you see along the way. There is usually some sort of hidden surprise like a spectacular waterfall, thousand year old stone fisherman huts, a viking grave… but, in this particular case we arrive at a bird sanctuary. It sounds lovely. Thousands of arctic birds flock to these beaches to lay their eggs in the summer. Bingo!

As I get out of the car I hear a terrifying scream. I look up and an Arctic Tern is aggressively swaking and flapping over head. I think this bird is a direct descendant of the pterodactyl. She makes it clear that we are not welcome. And, just to prove her point she swoops down and pecks Doug’s head. “Retreat! Start the car!” We are in defensive mode dodging and weaving, waving our arms over our heads. It’s like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock presents… Bird sanctuary: fail.

As we speed away I find peace in the landscape once again. The sun peeks through the clouds sending down beams of light. The vermillion moss hugs the base of the volcano and sends veins of colour up the steep black slope of the volcano. Nature has a forgiving way about her.

If you have ever found yourself sitting on the fence about visiting Iceland, I would highly recommend that you make plans to visit. Midnight golf is really a thing. Fifteen course tasting menus that will blow your mind await you. And, if all else fails, you can play mortal combat with the nesting fowl. Just pack a warm coat, a good pair of hiking shoes and an appetite for adventure. She will pull out all of her stops for you!

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