I am not sure what exactly took me to Iceland. I used to read about this place quite often and I guess I really wanted to see and experience what I had always imagined this remote nation to be. And then suddenly, before I realized it, I was flying to this distant corner of the world.
Manju Ganesh travelled with Byond to Iceland in October 2016. In this travelogue, she shares her favourite memories from this country and tells us what made her trip truly memorable and dreamlike :
What sets this island nation apart is that its landscape is filled with sharp contrasts; here, volcanoes, glaciers and snow coexist peacefully. However, what surprised me even more was the friendliness of the locals and the people that I was travelling with. I had a strong feeling this would turn out to be a journey full of pleasant surprises and memorable experiences – and guess what? It was.
Iceland (Image Credits: Manju Ganesh)
1) Northern Lights
My group was very lucky to have received a good forecast for the Northern Lights on the very day we landed. Totally geared up for the ‘hunt’, we drove into the night, looking for an ideal spot to view this spectacle.
All of us were gazing out into the dark, not knowing what to expect. All of a sudden, there appeared a big white band of cloud in the sky. Our guide pointed at it and told us that this was the phenomenon that we were eagerly waiting for! I must say I was a bit disappointed at first. It seemed almost unfair that I had to stand outside, waiting and waiting with my teeth chattering due to the cold. I was gazing in different directions hoping that something might turn up in the sky. And it did.
As the clouds slowly parted, we could see a hint of green light and then there was more! The white band of cloud unveiled, revealing a myriad of colours. At first, it was magenta, and then, as I looked on, beautiful bands of white and green waves appeared.
I put my camera down, mesmerized by the sight. And the feeling that you get when you see something so profound and beautiful- it’s truly divine! This was the perfect beginning to a magical trip.
2) The Golden Circle
I was in Iceland during the beginning of winter, and it can get really windy, especially when you are driving through the plains. Summer, on the other hand might be a good time for you to rent a car and go on the Golden Circle drive. Either ways, the drive across the vast landscapes is beautiful.
We first made our way to the Pingvellir National Park (for all those Game of Thrones fans out there, this is where some of the key episodes of the series were shot). What fascinated me the most was the tectonic plates. Pingvellir lies in a rift valley that marks the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The rift keeps growing as a result of the continental drift.
I also got to experience what Iceland is known for: its volatile climate. What started off as a bright sunny day suddenly turned into a rainy one with fierce winds, and then almost immediately, the sky cleared and it was all bright and pleasant again. All of this happened in just 2 hours!
3) Geothermal Fields
We then reached the geothermal fields, that is dotted with several geysers. The main attraction here was the Storkkur, which explodes every 7mins, spurting hot water and steam upto a height of 30 meters!
And if you are taking pictures, please do watch your step. You are practically standing on top of shifting tectonic plates which can cause the ground to cave in. So keep your distance, respect the signs and enjoy Mother Nature’s live performance!
4) The Blue Lagoon
Ever since I read about the Blue Lagoon, it became a part of my bucket list and I was confident I would visit this place when I got the chance to travel to Iceland. The best part about this natural spa was that I could laze around in the warm water with a glass of wine in my hand- my kind of vacation!
5) The Black Beach
Who says everything beautiful should be colorful and bright?! The Reynisfjara is the perfect example for this. The black sand and angry white waves crashing on the shore look scary at first, but as you stand there gazing into the ocean, you will notice a perfect rhythm with which the water swirls and slowly bends down to wash upon the black shore and then quietly retreats. I was transfixed, just looking at this wonderful sight.
6) A great group to spend time with
I travel a lot but this was my first time with Byond. In fact, this was the first time I was travelling with a group so I had no clue what to expect. But it was an amazing experience. And I was inspired by all the ladies I met and their interesting travel stories. I signed up for a group travel and I came back having an awesome vacation with some great friends!
7) A travel story worth narrating
I started this trip with absolutely no clue about how this journey would turn out to be. But in the end, I left with some great memories and a lot of stories to tell. In fact, this travel story is one of my daughter’s favourite!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Manju Ganesh, a Product Manager by profession, also loves writing and exploring the world whenever her schedule allows her to. She travelled with Byond last year to Iceland and had a great time chasing the Northern Lights, exploring the beautiful countryside and a lot more with a fun crew of women. She believes travelling is a form of meditation, and a trip with her 5 year old daughter is next on her wishlist.