You can’t beat a bit of winter sun in the midst of the bleakness. So why we decided on a week in Iceland over the Canary Islands I don’t know, but suffice to say it was the best decision my friend and I ever made. Last week in Reykjavik, I was blessed with something better than sun – a display of the northern lights on my birthday!
We followed a local’s advice and walked a trail along the harbour towards a lighthouse. As the sky got darker and the city lights fell behind us, there they were. Aurora Borealis – our magical mystic green dancing friends.
I had a boyfriend from Iceland once, and I was lucky enough to visit there with him twice while we were dating. I was welcomed into every single home by his VERY extensive family, and was made to feel like part of the tribe. In winter I got to sit around a giant table in the family’s log cabin, playing games and drinking shots while the snow made a blizzard that blocked the mountains outside.
I got to try homemade moonshine and sing as they played piano (everyone is musical in Iceland). In summer I foraged for wild mushrooms in meadows that would make the Twilight cast weep with envy. I was even offered a taste of sheep head stew and whale sushi at local festivals, while children sawed gaily into a freshly caught shark with sharpened tools – it’s a tradition, you just have to keep quiet OK?
As you can imagine, I was enchanted. Marginally disturbed at times yes, but enchanted.
This time it was just my friend and I, who’d never been to Iceland before. I promised to try and recreate at least some of what I experienced on past visits. We got lucky. The same family members welcomed me back… even though my ex is my ex. They’re just wonderful like that; once you’re family, you’re family.
We were given tickets to Bjork by perfect strangers, live at the Harpa concert hall. We drank tomato beer in the hydroponic greenhouses of Fridheimar. We crept inside a lava tunnel, snorkelled along the Silfra ridge between two tectonic plates, got to bask in three different face masks in the Blue Lagoon, and were cooked a meal of reindeer and Icelandic salmon, and sweet mashed potato and more, all in a friend’s beautiful kitchen. This memorable meal was all overlooked by the moose he shot with his son several years ago, which was nailed to the wall.
His son wasn’t there this time. He’s up in the national park hunting a native goose-like bird for Christmas, but it’s a tradition, you just have to keep quiet OK?
Ah Iceland, you are literally my new favourite place in the world. I plan to set a book here very soon, my heart is calling for it. Maybe I’ll leave the hunting part out…
Where have you been that’s left a lasting impression on you, enough to write a book about?