Led Zeppelin described it: “The land of the ice and snow, where the hot springs flow…”
I´ve also come from the land of the ice and snow, where sleeping mountains of fire await to be awoken, and waterfalls run furiously in expression of their magnificent power; a land of contradiction, where ice and heat live in harmony. I must say: what a treasure of nature Iceland represents.
Reykjavik translates as “smoky bay”, after an adventurous Norwegian Viking discovered a hot-springs land around 874 A.D. The heart of Iceland hasn´t been beating for long (there wasn´t urban development until 1786), and it´s one of the smallest capitals in the world, with 123,000 friendly and lively inhabitants.
The city has many highlights: Hallgrímskirkja, a church that can be seen from almost everywhere in Reykjavik, was designed to resemble mountains and glaciers, and it gives great panoramic views from the top.
The old port, with monumental ships, is the perfect place to enjoy delicious hot dogs and incredibly fresh fish and chips.
Original sculptures and colourful houses decorate Reykjavik charmingly; and The Pond surprises tourists with its many birds crying like hungry babies, when they throw food at them.
It is one of the most popular routes in Iceland, covering 300 kilometres in the south. It starts with the visit to the Kerio volcano, which contradicts nature, covered in ice during winter; passing through the impressive Gullfoss waterfall, and getting to the geothermal area in Haukadalur.
There, the lazy Geysir isn´t able to spit water as it used to, but the active Strokkur congregates thousands of tourists, who hold their cameras steadily, awaiting for it to strongly gasp at any moment, as it erupts every few minutes.
Thingvellir National Park completes this trip, where one can walk through the Silfra Fissure, fracture that separates the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian one. The opportunity to dive and touch two continents at once makes it more interesting, but if this seems too scary, just admire the beauty of the two-colour water (due to a melting glacier into Lake Thingvellir).
It is one of the best natural spas in the world; located in a lava field, close to the Keflavik airport. The waters, with a 38-degree temperature, are rich in silica and sulfur, excellent minerals for the skin, and the silica gives the water its characteristic milky colour. The water comes from a geothermal power plant, which renews the water from the lagoon every 48 hours.
The geothermal power plants drilled over Iceland make it pollution-free, and provide everyone with the purest water, at cheap prices. This and its landscapes are Iceland´s wonders; a week won´t be enough to see its glaciers, waterfalls and diamond paths created by the sun and snow, that draws the landscape with glory.
Iceland, land of emerald lights that appear in the starred-black skies and transform into slippery snakes. To the land of ice with a heart of fire I must come back.