I want to share a wonderful adventure that took me to Iceland – a mystical island nation that offers a lot of discovery joy. Enchanting views, hot springs, and surreal landscapes. The nature of Iceland is enchanting. Large mountains, drifting icebergs, black lava beaches, and numerous volcanoes. This almost uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is probably the most exotic place in Europe.
Iceland has twice as many sheep as people. At first, I was joking about that statement, but when I googled it, I found out it’s true 😃. While driving around, I encountered these creatures at every turn, on the road, by the road, and on top of the mountains. At times, these sheep were like traffic police because they were by the roadside and sometimes even in the middle of the road. When driving, you had to be cautious and slow down all the time.
The sunrise painted the mountains red.
The views in Iceland were breathtakingly beautiful. Driving there is never boring, your head is constantly turning, and you have to remind yourself to keep your eyes on the road while behind the wheel. 😃. Doing my running workouts was also challenging I just wanted to stop and enjoy the views and that surreal landscape all the time. No denying it, sometimes I stopped and took out my phone to capture those beautiful moments. You don’t see views like that every day. At times, the mountains and landscapes were so surreal that it felt like being in a fantasy movie, and any moment a character would step out.
Running workouts on a empty beach.
But how did I end up in Iceland? My mother works there, and I had the opportunity to go along. I spent a total of two weeks in Iceland and drove nearly 3000 km. We spent one week in West Iceland and the second week in East Iceland. You could say we almost circled this beautiful island nation. Driving there is relatively easy, the roads are in good condition. Except for the remote roads with gravel surfaces and curves at every turn. But I actually enjoyed those winding roads. I heard that there are inland roads that can only be accessed with an off-road vehicle.
The weather can change rapidly while on the road in Iceland, sometimes within minutes. One moment you’re driving in thick clouds with zero visibility, and the next moment, the sun is shining. It’s strange that sometimes you drive for long stretches completely alone in vast emptiness, with not a single house or person in sight. Indeed, Iceland is one of the least densely populated countries in the world. At times, the landscape is like you’ve landed on the moon, with not a soul in sight.
Me enjoying the Blue Lagoon.
What did I do there? Well, you could say I did a lot of running workouts and drove a tremendous number of kilometers, as I mentioned earlier. The very first thing we did was visit the Blue Lagoon, which could be called a blue pearl amidst the black lava fields. The Blue Lagoon is a bright blue geothermal lake with amazing therapeutic properties.
The Blue Lagoon is one of the finest examples of how Icelanders can efficiently utilize the gift of nature for multiple purposes – both for heat production and tourism development. The water, sourced from underground geothermal springs that are two kilometers deep, is first turned into steam, which powers the turbines of the Svartsengi power plant located on the Blue Lagoon’s shore. Afterward, the mineral-rich water, having served its purpose, is directed into the natural spa. The water in the lagoon is consistently warm, between 35-40 degrees Celsius (95-104 degrees Fahrenheit) year-round, and its abundance of natural minerals, along with blue-green algae and silica mud, provide remarkable therapeutic benefits. It’s especially effective for psoriasis and eczema. By the way, the Blue Lagoon also has a separate clinic for psoriasis patients, and their treatment programs are considered the most effective natural therapy worldwide.
In addition, there is a spa area and a conference center. The highlight of the spa area is, of course, the small lake with its blue water and white silica mud shores, making it hard to leave. 😃. Although the entrance fee is relatively steep, I still recommend visiting this place. The price includes a silica mask, a selected drink, and towel usage. Additionally, you could also use the Blue Lagoon’s own products – shampoo, shower gel, and conditioner, which were very pleasant and of high quality. For me, the Blue Lagoon will certainly remain as a stunning experience.
The first week I was in Bíldudalur, a village located on the coast of one of Iceland’s Westfjords, Arnarfjörður. It’s a very charming small village with a population of 238 residents. Bíldudalur is located 375 km away from Reykjavik, and we drove that distance by car. It’s also possible to fly there with an internal flight in Iceland, which, of course, saves time. But the car journey there was worth it because the views were amazing. Near the village, there is a natural hot spring where you can go and relax for free. Iceland is abundant with these hot spring pools, which can make one quite envious 😃. Also, there was a beautiful and deserted beach just 5 km away from the village, where I went running several times.
The second week, we hit the road to the east of Iceland towards a city. Neskaupstaður is a town located on the eastern side of Iceland, on the shores of Norðfjörður fjord, facing the Norwegian Sea. It is part of the municipality of Fjarðabyggð, and as of 2016, there were 1,481 residents. Once again, we covered that distance by car, which was 800 km long. But the journey wasn’t as daunting as it sounds because we took the southern route, which features some of Iceland’s most beautiful attractions. Our first stop was Skógafoss, a waterfall located in South Iceland. The waterfall is 60 meters high and has a width of 25 meters.
The black sand beach at Vik.
The next way led along the southern coastline to Reynisfjara, where we stopped to visit the black sand beach of the Atlantic Ocean. There are high tides there, and often surprisingly powerful waves.
The most memorable place I visited was Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. It was simply a wonderful place, a feeling as if I had stumbled into a fairytale or a movie. Many film scenes have been shot in this place, including Bond films and Game of Thrones. By area, it is Iceland’s largest and Europe’s third-largest glacier. I highly recommend visiting this place when you arrive in Iceland to see it with your own eyes.
The Puffin Colony.
Iceland’s largest glacier
Arriving in eastern Iceland, it was only 6 degrees Celsius, but it didn’t bother me. Because the local nature was so beautiful. While Iceland doesn’t have many forests in general, there is a bit more greenery in the east. In terms of fauna and flora, Iceland is not rich, but it is home to a bird species called the puffin. A cross between a penguin and a parrot can fly at speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour and dive to depths of 60 to 100 meters. These birds are estimated to number 8-10 million in Iceland. We also went to see puffins with our own eyes. Those birds are truly some of the most special birds I’ve seen.
I enjoyed my running workouts even more while in Iceland. Yes, those running trails were tougher because there were so many elevations, but I enjoyed every kilometer. That pure ocean air and those mountains – you just can’t get enough of it!
As I write this blog, nearly a month has already passed since that trip. I had to make a post right after the trip, but somehow, the end of summer has gone by so quickly. And I also struggled with a little lack of motivation in between. I thought about why I even need this blog. That no one reads it anyway. But thinking it over, I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter who and how many people read it. I just enjoy writing, and it feels good to read it myself someday. It’s like a diary 😃 I’m just doing my own thing.
Anyway, it was a wonderful trip, and I am incredibly grateful for it. I got to almost circle this island nation because on the way back to Reykjavik, we drove through the north and got to see the other side of the island as well. It’s a place I definitely plan to return to one day. Because there is still so much left to discover, and there’s something truly special about that place. There’s a unique and surreal vibe there. I can’t quite put it into words. But it evokes special feelings. Sometimes there’s an intense longing for Iceland. No other place has ever stirred such feelings in me before. Who knows, maybe I’ll go to the Reykjavik Marathon one day, which takes place every August. Anything is possible!
See you on the running track!