Iceland Preview

Don't let the bag fool you,  it's not even close to being fully packed.

Don’t let the bag fool you, it’s not even close to being fully packed.

When the time came to finally decide how to best use our remaining vacation time in November, Iceland wasn’t really anywhere on our radar.  The criteria were: 1) Somewhere we’ve never been, and 2) Somewhere warm. Imagine our surprise as our fingers effortlessly glided across the keyboard as if by their own volition, and inexplicably started looking up the price for tickets to Reykjavik. The surprises kept on coming, as the flights were direct and cheap. Before our brains could question the logic of buying tickets to Iceland in November, the credit card was out and the tickets were booked. So, at least we succeeded in fulfilling half of our prerequisites. Iceland, here we come.

I’ll do my best to spare the reader of clichéd “Fire and Ice” imagery, though for a country composed solely of volcanoes and glaciers, it will be difficult.

When researching the trip, we were confronted with a plethora of great ideas and unique adventures. Unfortunately, with time being limited we preemptively eliminated our plans to go scuba diving in Silfra and a trip through the West Fjords, both of which promised to be mind-blowing experiences. But we did so with reason–to complete a circuit of the famous Ring Road and to take in as many of the incredible sights around the island as we can.

A common question I’ve received is, “What is there to do in Iceland?” It’s a fair question, but one that can readily be asked of any number of holiday destinations. Many vacationers are content to sit by the beach; there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but it’s not the kind of vacation that gets my blood boiling. To me, a beach is a beach, and it’s essentially the same experience from the Mediterranean to Miami. I want to see something new and dramatic, and actively investigate the new surroundings by hiking, diving, exploring, trying new food, and meeting interesting people.

Iceland should give ample opportunity to do most of the above. And for a geology and science geek like me, Iceland provides the perfect opportunity to see some incredible forces of nature up close and personal. I’ll have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights and a geyser (not surprisingly, from the Icelandic word geysir) for the first time in my life. I’ll be able to see, perhaps even climb, the glaciers–something to tell the grandkids about, after explaining  what a glacier is. I’ll be able to see the powerful effects of plate tectonics at work on the Earth’s youngest landmass, and maybe even cook some hot dogs in the still smoldering ground from recent eruptions.

It’s fun to think about all the possibilities, but tomorrow is when planning becomes reality, and imagination becomes experience. I’ve had visions in my head of every place I’ve traveled before ever setting foot there, and every single time, those visions never come close to reality. Perhaps the most important thing to remember about planning for a trip, is that no amount of planning can fully prepare you for a trip to an exotic location, or even a trip to the supermarket. Life will always find ways to surprise you, and the only thing you can do is to roll with the punches.

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