Iceland trip March 2020
In March 2020 I got to travel north again after all these years. I have developed quite a „craving“ for Iceland in this period, dreaming of it and also creating some art about it. I wanted to see the complete volcanic wildeness. And I was not disappointed. I saw the lava fields, the volcanic uniquely shaped mountains, geysirs, the Reykjavik church, the waterfalls, the many colorful houses and much more.
It was a different world. Raw, wild, powerful, but pure and tranquil at the same time. I really felt that the landscapes posessed power and movement. All the slends and clean slopes of the mountains, the hard rocks, the steam, the unapologetically pitch black color of the beaches, the aggressive wind, the vast and open spaces, the grand size of the cliffs and the earthly deep sound of the waves breaking against them, suggested this quality. It can really captivate you, but sometimes it happens that I want less movement, more peace and that´s when I gravitate more to Norway.
We lived in an apartment in Reykjavik for nine days. The architecture of the houses was admirable, simple yet playful. We had a view to Reykjavik, we were on a kind of a hill, which is my favorite place to be.
Reykjavik church and downtown
On the first day, shortly after arriving we visited the Reykjavik downtown because it was the closest place that we could get to.
The church looked majestic with it´s high, perfectly sloped walls and massive viking door, it almost looked like something from a fantasy book. Inside, it was not less breathtaking. A simple and clean aesthetic with light green color accents everywhere, narrow conic windows and a lot of space. It carried a sense of peace and maybe even something a little heavenly. I definitely felt a bit strange but in a good way.
The famous downtown consists of many traditional small houses which usually serve as souvenir shops or cafés. I have to say that the cafés are very cozy. We visited one of them later in our trip. The walls in it were dark brown, so that made it feel mysterious and there also was a lot of small lights and lamps which illuminated certain spots, and there were some other nice decorations or plants near the window areas.
We could sited the geysirs the first day from arriving. We drove through the snowy mountains, into a wide valley and on it’s side there was the place of geysirs and leaking steamholes. There was truly a lot of steam and also earth gasses. First, we saw the Litli Geysir. We went forward and we got to the big Strokkur. The geysir pushed it’s stream high into the air in a matter of seconds.
Many people try to capture it in it’s full height but it’s quite a challenging task.
This waterfall was the largest waterfall that we encountered on our trip. It was truly large. It is located in the middle of a wide flat land and it sinks into the ground. We watched it from many points as there were a lot of them built for tourists. It was an exceptional experience.
We took a car drive to this waterfall from Reykjavik. It was pretty long. It could have been three hours. When we arrived there the ground was covered with ice so we couldn´t really walk around it. But it looked magnificent.
Skogafoss was another waterfall that surprised us with it´s size and beauty. It´s height is in total 60 metres and you can also hike to the top, which gives you a stunning view to the country all the way to the sea, which is about five kilometres away.
This waterfall is located on the river Skogá, and breaks it on the border of a former coastline of the Island. It separates the lowlands from the mountains.
Reynisfjara black sand beach
This are the unapologetically black rocks and sand that I mentioned about. The space that draws you in. We got to come there in a time of sunset and we witnessed an incredible scenery above the powerful beating waves.
Cliffs near Reynisfjara
These cliffs were similiar to Arnastapi, black and large. But from here we also had an unique, view to the beach that spreads long into the distance.
Vik was the place we ended our trip through all the waterfalls as it was already late in the evening. This place is the southernmost village in Iceland, sitting by the sea and a black sand beach. Vik is also the location of a church which became the subject of many photographers. As the night was coming in, we saw only the silhouettes of this building.
Aurora borealis watching
On our way back from a roadtrip the night was pitch black and that made it a great condition for watching the polar lights. As we were driving, we caught a glimpse of a very dimmed light. Our eyes could not really pick up the color at first, but we waited and it became stronger. Polar lights actually are not as strong as you see in the photos, because the cameras usually collect the light for a long period of time. Nevertheless, it was an experience.
Reykjadalur thermal river
This place is not as known by tourists as the other sights. Reykjadalur thermal river is a beautiful river with hot water, located in the mountains. It was always my childhood dream to bathe in natural hot water in the middle of the mountains. It’s as if the mountains were extra hospitable and friendly. I didn’t know back then that it was actually possible. But this was exactly that, and it felt truly magical.
We got to our destination by an hour long hike. While walking, we could see steaming holes, boiling water ponds and even beautiful mud ponds! I was taken away by what I saw.
Later, we stopped seeing the holes but we saw the river and it’s waterfall from a distance. As we were coming further and further along, we saw more steam coming from the river. At first it was just lukewarm, but it got hotter and hotter closer to the source. Then we found the perfect spot and we had a warm bath in the middle of wilderness and even snow all around us.
Where we stayed
This time, we decided not to stay in a tent because of the crazy weather in Lofoten. Rather we took a small wooden cabin with some bunk beds. It was probably the most cozy cabin I have slept in and I was very happy that we stayed there. It had beautiful light wood everywhere and an old looking white door. Truly historical vibes!
The name of the campsite I do not remember. But this place also inspired one painting of mine.
Arnastapi cliffs and Snæfellsness peninsula roadtrip
Our next trip from Reykjavik aimed to the northwest, to the Snæfellsness peninsula.
The first major town that we passed was Akranes, then Borgarnes and the Borgarbygd bridge. The views featured flat grassy lowlands that inspired me to paint a painting, dominated by peaky volcanic mountains.
We passed small places like Stadarstadur and then we got to our first stop, Arnastapi.
Arnastapi looked like just a few houses, but there was also a path for tourists that led to a breathtaking view of black stone cliffs. The height was great, and the waves were not less. We heard the loud booming sounds from bellow us. We could watch the ocean take a very powerful form.
Next, we got to the peak of the peninsula and that’s where we found the famous Kirkjufell mountain with the waterfall. This mountain earned his fame by it’s unique shape and position with the scenic waterfall. When we visited this place, there was a lot of photographers trying to capture it. But even the landscapes near this peak were stunning. There were small beaches everywhere, carved into the land and surrounded by more mountains.
When we drove we had a lot of views of the sea running to the distance infinitely.
Our road back was taken through the mountains on Snæfellsnessvegur road. We saw the sun set and when we came home it was already dark.
Mossy lava fields covered by snow
The mountains on the way from Reykjavik to the south coast were partially covered with snow when we drove through them. The mossy caps were poking their heads out. We could see an incredibly peaceful light green and white landscape that reminded me of the colors in the church.
Harpa concert hall at night
We walked a fairly short distance from the Reyjavik downtown and we got to the modern and luminous looking Harpa concert hall. The beautiful diamond-shaped walls were sliding the lights slowly. It looked beautiful with it’s background of sea.
Sólheimar the sun voyager
This modern metal statue, created by by Jón Gunnar Árnason, also located near downtown Reykjavik, is a fairytaly nordic symbol. It represents the boat that the Icelanders arrived in to Iceland for the first time.
Perlan tourist center
Perlan center is a round shaped building that sits on top of a hill in Reykjavik, it’s almost like an observatory. But it’s actually for tourists to show them and teach them about the many interesting things about Iceland.
After we entered the building, we went into a room that was all about volcanoes. There was texts about volcanoes and also their sounds and even some rocks from volcanoes. I liked it because it was interesting.
Other rooms focused on the sea and lake life and it was not boring neither. There were some weird organisms living at the bottom, for example troll balls.
Another section was dedicated to geology and we could see some truly interesting real minerals and stones.
The section about glaciers was showing us for example how the glaciers move, and most importantly, how fast they change nowdays. Everything was in a dark room with only the blue screens shining. There was also some fun interactive tech for us to use. All in all, a great atmosphere.
Then we were surprised by an ice cave. There really is a man-made ice cave with several paths in the Perlan building. Even with a throne made entirely of ice with a rose frozen inside it.
The cinematic hall made us dive into the world of auroras and the viking legends about them. All this projected on a large ball shaped ceiling.
On the absolute top, there is a rotating café and outside there is a 360° balcony with a view over Reykjavik. It’s the perfect ending of such a good excursion.