Nothing "Icy" about Iceland
Aight, so boom…
It was spring of 2018 (when the world was a semi-normal place) and my husband (he was my bf at the time) and I had the opportunity to travel to Zurich, Switzerland to see my sister perform in her first international pole competition! Since the accommodations were already taken care of, we immediately jumped on the opportunity to travel that summer and we decided to extend the trip to Zurich to include stops in London and Paris too!
In planning the most cost-effective itinerary, we began searching for flights to either London or Paris since traveling directly to Zurich was out of the question (it was expensive afff). We found a few direct flights to London but the absolute cheapest flight required a layover in Iceland on the way to and from Europe. The first layover was merely hours whereas on the way back, we would have to stay overnight in the capital city of Reykjavik. In the spirit of spontaneity, we purchased our flights via Wow Air (unfortunately, they’ve since gone bankrupt…eek!) and made plans for our incredible Eurotrip!
Away we went to Europe, staying & catching up with family in London, walking around my old stomping grounds in Paris, cheering on my sister in Zurich and finally making our return a few days later to the country we knew barely anything about, Iceland. We hadn’t made any plans for our overnight layover, assuming that we’d be too tired to do anything really adventurous so we simply planned to grab food, rest and explore the area around our little guest house the next day before our last leg home.
As we were leaving the airport in Reykjavik, we were met with cold, gusting winds and a temperature of only 50 damn degrees! Mind you, we’d been traveling during the month of July, so in Europe, temps were in the low to mid-80’s. Not knowing anything about Iceland aside from the 24-hour daylight, we were completely unprepared for the cold and rainy weather. Making the best of it because there wasn’t much we could do, we hopped into a taxi and headed to our guest house. Along the way, we saw rolling hills of beautiful green landscapes that seemingly went on for miles. The clouds…man…the clouds literally looked like if you took a running start, you could jump up and pull them from the sky. I guess being so far north, it gave the illusion that the clouds were so close, but it was truly incredible to see!
The trip from the airport to the guest house was all of maybe 10 minutes. Assuming that the seafood had to be exquisite here, we found a cute restaurant near the guest house and settled in for a feast. In amazement of the fact that it was nighttime but it looked no later than 2 or 3pm, we quickly befriended our waitress who was a Black woman to get some more "tea" about Iceland. She was the only other person of color we’d seen since we landed so given my gregarious nature, I OF COURSE wanted to chat with her about what brought her to Iceland, how long she’d lived there, etc.
After a brief yet love-filled conversation, we found out that she was not only a waitress, but she was the owner of the restaurant.
Imagine that...after going hours without seeing anyone else of color, we stumbled upon a Black-owned & operated restaurant that served us a FEAST of fresh lobster tails & tandoori chicken.
She went on to tell us that she was originally from Martinique, moved to Denmark where she met her husband and moved to Iceland to start a family. She offered up her home anytime we wanted to return for a longer time because as she mentioned, they had another house on the Southern part of the island. We exchanged information and laughed all the way home about the irony of stumbling upon a Black-owned restaurant in Iceland.
The following morning we awoke to sunshine but to our slight disappointment, the temperature was still only in the high-40s in the middle of July. We grabbed a few (very expensive) sweatshirts from a nearby shop in the “downtown” area which was a quiet & really quaint conglomerate of small shops & restaurants for the occasional tourist. We noticed that we were surrounded by really tall hills but we couldn’t see what was on the other side of them so with a few hours left before our flight, we decided to go discover what was on the other side.
Further and further along the trail we walked, surrounded by a sea of purple flowers that we learned were the equivalent of our dandelions. As we got further up the hill, the winds got stronger and colder, and I said to CB that it felt like we were coming up on some water. As we continued, the winds got even stronger until we reached what seemed like the edge of the Earth! It was the most magnificent site I’d ever seen. The way the waves of the North Atlantic crashed against the massive rocks was truly like something out of a movie. It took my breath away and my eyes watered with gratitude to be experiencing something so unexpectedly beautiful. I snapped as many shots as I could from every angle that I could in an effort to savor this moment because again, we had little to no expectations of what to see in Iceland aside from the Blue Lagoon of course.
Overwhelmed and exhausted, we climbed down the hill and jumped on Yelp to find a place for lunch. Bellies and spirits full, we returned to our guest house and flew out later that day vowing to return to explore more of the country.
How interesting it was that a place called "Iceland" was filled with the warmest people and the most beautiful & lush landscapes.
There was truly nothing icy about Iceland.