Backpacking in Iceland – What an Adventure!
The first article on this travel blog published in english and it is not from me! It is written by my travel partner Monika (25, polish, assistent manager in a Italien chain Restaurant in London), who accompanied me on my press trip to Iceland. We don’t see each other anymore, but I am happy she agreed to publish it anyway. I guess everyone would be happy to go to travel blogger events and get this kind of trips. As she starts to be interested in the entire travel blog business I asked her to write an article about Iceland from her perspective and publish it. I am happy to pass any feedback and want to add that I didn’t amend the article in any way even If I don’t agree in some parts or think it throws a bad light on me (maybe subjective). Lets stop talking and get to her article… Enjoy!
Backpacking in Iceland – The Journey Begins
Travelling as a partner of a travel blogger might seem adventurous, exciting and interesting. Not a long time ago I had a pleasure of travelling with one, and have to say it was a real adventure not only because of a destination we chose but also the extraordinary personality I had to deal with, but later about that.
Mostly I want to focus on an absolute beauty, true wonder of the nature, mysterious and still undiscovered land named Iceland. Most of people when they hear the name Iceland, think the country is entirely covered with ice, which is not true, thanks to the warm Gulf Stream, flowing around Iceland and bringing a mass of warm air. Our trip took place from 12 of march till 16 of march and must say it was really cold, even if the locals told us it’s beginning of spring. Even though you ever think about visiting this amazing place don’t have any expectations with the weather, otherwise you might be really disappointed. Weather here is like a woman or travel blogger, one minute spoils you and another want to freeze you to death. One of the things I’ve learned, there is no such thing like a bad weather, just the clothes might not be good enough.
Iceland – Paradise for Adventures
Iceland strikes you with the cold wind and its undeniable severity, which actually, when you look closer is breathtakingly beautiful. Everything here is fresh and unspoiled. I heard many times, all of the geological processes that took place thousands years ago are actually taking place now on Iceland which make this country real paradise for geologist and photographers. From my point of view is also a paradise for daydreamers, everyone looking for spiritual inspiration, nature lovers, lovers in general, backpackers and basically everyone looking for an adventure.
One of the unique attractions Iceland has to offer are the volcanoes, to be more precise, over 130 volcanoes from which 15 are still active. Not to mention the fact that Iceland actually lies on two continent plates Northamerican and Eurasian, which is the reason of all volcanic activity, as well as geothermal activity. Which makes pretty adventurous being there, taking into consideration that any of this active volcanoes can explode any time. Well, now it gives me a clue why actually there is so little people living there… Iceland is considered one of the least populated country in the world. Only 2,7 people per km2.
Geothermal Water in Iceland – “The Liquied Gold”
All of you probably knows about Iceland precious feature which is geothermal water, Icelanders use for many purposes like heating, energy, recreation and even cooking! They have special kitchens where they use only hot steam to cook or bake. In my personal opinion Icelandic bread baked on hot Icelandic stem is the best one I ever have a pleasure to try. Speaking about geothermal water I have to say about the favourite activity of local people and not only local, namely, geothermal swimming pools which they like to call liquid sun.
Due to the fact that the weather on Iceland is not always blessing people with the sun, they have to find the way to cheer themselves up. Socialising on the swimming pools, sitting and talking immersed in hot water, no matter what time of the year. I tried it myself and must say is truly blessing! For the people who prefer to enjoy liquid sun surrounded by the nature, Iceland has got many hot springs, where you can take a bath without paying any fee, just check first if the water is not too hot.
How to Travel for FREE?
First day we arrived to a lovely down-town hostel carried by bus, from the airport at the very door, for a price my travel companion doesn’t really liked, but had to pay. It’s maybe a good moment to warn you how expensive things are on this beautiful island, as long as it’s not part of nature you have to pay, and pay a lot! Unlike to other countries in the world, Iceland has the cleanest water in each tap! It’s good to know, when you get there, there is no need to buy water. The tap water is clean, safe and delicious.
It was not my first time in a hostel, but a first time in a place with an eco-label, which I find really amazing, since many people are still unaware of an importance of sustainability, it’s great to see how people on Iceland care about the nature and environment.
We had breakfast included in our free stay, but it was not usual breakfast! Everything was organic and home-made, not to mention my favourite rye bread and coffee.
And yes, you didn’t read it wrong, the accommodation on Iceland was free of charge for both of us, and that was one of the bright side of travelling with Chris, lovely travel blogger I mentioned before. I had a chance to see how the travel blogger business is working and must say I really liked that. For those who don’t know, let me explain shortly. When you writing about travelling, and other people like it, which means you have many visitors on your blog, you might get interest from travel companies, agencies, hostels, hotels.
If you are famous enough, they might approach you, if not, you can simply write to them yourself and offer some advertising on your blog as an exchange for free accommodation or free tour, sometimes you might even get a sponsor for a whole trip, depends how good you are. Well, Chris is pretty good at what he is doing which means we got free accommodation and free tours during whole stay.
Sightseeing and Sponspred Trips in Iceland
Weather was not very merciful the first day for us, but as I mentioned before that was not the most important, so we put the warmth clothes and went for a walk. On the way back we popped in to the local café for some food. Café Loki appeared to be a very cosy place with a nice view on the second highest building in Reykjavik, Halgrimskijkia church.
How big was my surprise when I tried shark, I didn’t know that time it was fermented and not because of negligence of the restaurant but simply because that’s the way they serve it and are proud of it. Watch out for the shark served in cubes on toothpicks! It’s going to taste awful, although if you don’t try you’ll never know.
Next day we were going for the south coast trip sponsored by GeoIceland tour operator. Finally I had an opportunity to see the nature of the country. Mostly it was still covered with snow. The first impression you have crossing this impenetrable roads, that this land is completely uninhabited and anywhere you look the land is flat and up to horizon there is just soil. Suddenly behind the corner you see this massive waterfall, and spectacular nature showing off. Water spreading and covers everything with this mysterious mist.
Stepping out for a moment from the flash backs I must say, Iceland was for me unusual trip of many first times apart from travelling as a partner of a travel blogger and trying the shark, for the first time I’ve been watching the waves so huge and strong that might actually kill people, and as many people told us, it actually happened few times. Place is called The Black Beach and thanks to irresponsible tourist gained notoriety. Unfortunately the need of taking the best shots of pictures or going more further than other people, is bigger than awareness of the consequences of the actions taken.
Iceland as a tourist destination is still not so popular, although due to the new cheap flight connections, becoming more and more fancy. Unfortunately still not ready to handle so many tourist in terms of security. There is no regulations in this field. No fences, enters or boundaries, although according to the locals it is soon expected to change which doesn’t make them really happy, since until now they had full access to everything that Iceland has to offer. Icelandic are really proud of their country, they care about it and are really aware of sustainability as well as ecology.
Speaking of the first times, from The Black Beach we go ahead to the Glacier, which was the first Glacier I’ve ever touched and should be proud I still could see it since they are disappearing so quickly… We didn’t have an opportunity to climb the glacier, which could be quite an adventure.
Another interesting trip that was arranged for us was called Golden Circle tour and is quite popular among the tourists. We stopped by few waterfalls and one of them especially impressed me, 65 meters high, so powerful and intimidating. Chris pushed me to climb half of the way up, to have a better view and make some good pictures. I was paralysed, with my freshly discovered scare of highs and with the beauty of the waterfall, couldn’t move my feet, not to mention it was quite dangerous standing up there, cause the ground was muddy and slippery, we were standing on the little slope. That was the moment, right there, right now. Happiness filled me up to the limit, didn’t know what was there ahead of me, waiting…
It’s good to visit Iceland two times a year, summer to discover all of the parts of the island that are impassable during winter, and be amazed with the colours of the flora. It’s a good time for people who like to camping. There are many picturesque spots where you can pitch your tent, without being caught by the police like in other European countries where wild camping is not allowed. Unlike winter, when camping is really dangerous, but not everyone is aware of that. Tourist coming in the conviction, they will save some money by sleeping in a tent or in the car. Weather condition are too unpredictable and unstable to do that, especially if it’s about inexperienced tourists. Although winter time has something totally unique and marvellous to offer. Has got many names, Aurora Borealis, Polar Light, Norther Light, phenomenal, phenomenon!
The Northern Lights in Iceland
Prognosis were good but the sky so clouded. It is said, to see the Aurora you need to have a clear sky and the high activity, I would say you need to have lots of luck, especially if you are on Iceland only 5 days and the weather doesn’t spoil you. We didn’t have high expectations, decided to take it as it is. Chris has been offered a free tour for the northern light hunting and he could take me as well. The tour was organized by icelandoffroad.is, started at 8pm, we packed ourselves to the Jeep and go for aurora hunting! We went more or less 140km outside the Reykjavik just to avoid the light disruption.
Our guide Adam, was checking few times for the right spot to stop but none of them was good enough. Finally we get to the point which had potential of seeing the northen lights, Adam took the picture of the sky, just to check if there is any aurora behind the clouds, since the camera can capture the lights more precisely then human eye. He said aurora is there and would be visible as soon as the sky will clear out. It didn’t seem like it is gonna clear out though, was the middle of the night, freezing cold and windy. Adam, our guide prepared some warm chocolate to worm us up and the only thing we could do was waiting. After half an hour watching at the cloudy sky everyone start to get impatient and more and more cold.
I strongly believed we gonna see the lights, even if the chances were dropping down. Suddenly a tiny piece of the moon came out from the could, little hope that the sky will clear, but then it disappeared again. After some minutes, slowly we started to see a little clear pieces of the sky, the wind was blowing so the clouds were moving. At one time, somebody noticed a green strip of light somewhere on the horizon, a really weak one, I couldn’t even see it, and I thought so that’s it? I looked closer and I saw little weak green light, everyone was happy, we saw the norhen lights!!
Although, I couldn’t help thinking, this is not what I expected. Suddenly, the sky clear out almost completely and the real show started… the lights got stronger and erupted up to the sky, they started to dance right and left, up and down. They were moving so quickly and started to change colours as well, green, yellow and even red! I couldn’t believe my eyes, they were everywhere, I didn’t know where to look, wanted to scream from happiness. The lights were all around me, performing the most beautiful dance I have ever seen…
Dare to Exlore!
Coming to conclusion, I would like to mention this is the first article for me about my experience as a traveller. I would like to thank Chris for showing me another side of travelling, for amazing company and help with moving the boundaries. I still have many boundaries to overcome, but one thing I can tell for sure, that’s the people you meet, who make you who you are, time spend with them, countries you visited, experiences you shared all of this are the things that shape you, so try to take from the opportunities as much as you can, don’t be afraid, take risk and travel! Make your dreams come true, whether it’s Iceland or any other country don’t wait until tomorrow, act! There is so many things to explore, dare to live! Dare to explore!
Any feedback or questions can be raised directly to Monika.