Twelve days and eleven nights in Iceland. That’s how long I spent on my first trip abroad as a solo traveler.
What was it like to experience Iceland — a country the size of Ohio where in the summer the sun never sets and in the winter it barely rises; an island ensconced in mountains and volcanoes, crater lakes and hundred-food geysers, dirt highways and moss-covered lava fields?
It was incredible.
That’s what I keep hearing myself say to friends and family, at least. But what does that really mean?
I suppose it’s that Iceland was a special adventure for me: a reaffirming journey without expectation or destination, and one that was full of learning, growth, experience, depth and humanity.
It’s funny how that happens — although I’m no longer surprised when an open-ended, expectationless voyage becomes a magnificent teacher of life, love, and people.
After twelve-odd hours of discombobulation when I first arrived in Iceland — what could be attributed to my usual “Where the hell am I and what am I doing here?” travel jitters, plus a sudden 16,000-krona cab ride from the airport (that’s about $120) that cost me about half the money in my wallet, and then blowing out my hotel’s electricity — I tapped into the pace and flow of life for locals in Iceland, and found it quite invigorating. The skies were grey throughout my visit, but the beer was cold and the caffeine was hot; the streets were bustling and the smiles were warm.
If you know me or have been here long at all, it really shouldn’t be a surprise when I tell you how I managed to overcome those annoying nerves and somehow tapped into the pace and flow of life around me, presently: I started writing.
Writing is my salvation. It has become a means to flourish in life and business, but has always remained my fallback during times of uncertainty: whenever I’m encountering my own fear, or facing the unknown, or thrown into some odd circumstance like an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces who are speaking an unfamiliar language.
My friend Fabian Krause said to me last week when I spoke with him in a podcast interview, “It sounds like whenever you miss home, you find home by writing.”
It’s true. Writing is how I find home wherever I am.
When I write, I take the reigns: it’s how you claim understanding over what you’re experiencing; and take ownership of what you’re feeling and fearing, hoping and anticipating. Writing is how you reverse your role as victim to circumstance and uncertainty and begin to dictate commands to your mind’s thinker.
Writing is the farmer’s hoe with which you till that soil. Writing is the drum beat that sets your heart’s soldier to march forward.
It’s simple why: by writing, you’re embracing a physical practice of personal choice (a choice in self-belief), and committal (with purposeful and intentional action), and a natural means of cultivating order, peace, and understanding from disorder, confusion and chaos.
That’s why I wish to share writing and its incredible power with others in the work that I do — because writing is a gravitational force for positive change that’s chosen and lasts, and is not demanded, commanded or forced.
My Iceland Experience in 33 Instagram Photos
Although it almost pains me to not accompany these pictures of mine with the appropriate stories and descriptions, I did recently on a guest post on Plum Deluxe and would suggest you visit that piece to see some detailed explanations and stories about what you see here below in these Instagram photos.
Since my friends at Plum Deluxe invited me to contribute a piece to their site which features some of these photos, I felt that I should leave the context of the related stories to that post, rather than describing it all again here — but I sweetened the visual deal here for you, including many more pictures to inspire you with Iceland’s natural beauty.
2.) Hallgrímskirkja at 1:05 AM
3) Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s “Main Street”
4.) Laugavegur, closed to traffic for pedestrians and bicyclists on a Saturday morning
5.) Laugavegur, with light car traffic on a dreary Tuesday morning
6.) Laugavegur at Skolavoroustigur, a street that leads directly to Hallgrímskirkja
7.) Downtown Reykjavik, from the clock tower atop Hallgrímskirkja
8.) Color is a common sight in Reykjavik, a town that’s fond of artistry, performance art and music in the streets
9.) A portrait being spray painted onto the side of a house in Reykjavik
10.) Art and graffiti are strewn about with eloquence throughout downtown Reykjavik
11.) Chalk signs, one of my favorites. I don’t know what it says, but I know there’s music happening there!
12.) This clothing shop ad is painted on the building’s wall, combining a rustic grunge element with catchy marketing
13.) The dichotomy of modernization and old world, arty Reykjavik.
14.) The Blue Lagoon, a popular man-made geothermal spa
15.) The wonderful cafe overlooking The Blue Lagoon
16.) Te og Kaffi, or the “Starbucks of Iceland”
17.) Caffeine and foam art: international languages
18.) Sigrun knitting herself her own lopapeysa, or an authentic Icelandic sweater
19.) A wonderful little restaurant named fish. with three items on the menu
20.) Fish stew and veggies with rice, a traditional Icelandic meal
20.) A colorful cafe along Laugavegur
21./22.) Books line the counter at Laundromat Cafe
23.) A latte at Bunk, the bar at Reykjavik Backpackers Hostel
24.) Flowers rise by Hallgrímskirkja
25.) Metallic viking sculpture in Reykjavik at the foot of a bay
26.) Reflections on a walk through the city
27.) A Reykjavikian home
28.) Thingvellir National Park, an hour outside of Reykjavik
29.) The Law Rock, where the world’s first every Parliament congregated
30./31./32.) A beautiful turquoise pond at Thingvellir National Park
33.) Me, at Gulfoss waterfall
34.) Natural geysers in the Icelandic countryside
35./36.) “The” geyser of Icelandic, Geysir, “before” and “after”
37.) Kerith, a volcano crater south of Reykjavik
38.) A view west from Kerith, as the sun breaks free from the clouds
39.) Iceland celebrated it’s independence during my stay. Here’s a parade down main street.
40./41.) Popular Icelandic bands took to the stage to perform for people celebrating on the blustery Independence Day
42.) Hallgrímskirkja, bidding farewell
Do you have a trip to Iceland planned? What are you hoping to see there?