YOUR STORIES: Breathtaking Iceland -- Part 1
Leave this field empty
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
By Donna Sohoo
Pin It

Currently, in Los Angeles, we're experiencing temperatures in the 80s. Were it not for the holiday songs playing over every department store's stereo system it would be easy to forget this is the month of December. So, as a reminder, we're traveling to Iceland with Donna Sohoo this week.

And, before we're the week is through, we'll take you to a destination in Southern California where the temps are below freezing.

For now, we're off to Keflavik!

Photo courtesy of Donna Sohoo


In a place where there are so many dramatic extremes of climate, geothermal activity, and landscape
Iceland has the remarkable ability to soothe. Even after having done a fair amount of research for our
trip, I had no idea what to expect. I don’t think I could have been prepared, I could only arrive with an
open mind and spirit. And I was not disappointed. But it didn’t start out smoothly.


Upon arrival in Keflavik I left my backpack in a bathroom at the airport. After 40 minutes of frantically running from special luggage services to the security kiosk and back again, a stern guard finally emerged at baggage claim to return it. Having gone through that, relaxation was a must. A visit to the Blue Lagoon spa did the trick. A massage in the geothermally heated pool erased my stress.


Blue Lagoon Spa image courtesy of Donna Sohoo

 

The day we arrived in Reykjavik was right before annual gay pride weekend. My friends and I live in San
Francisco and New York. We know from gay pride. And so we were prepared for huge crowds filling the streets
and lots of festivities. But where was everyone?

 

Instead of working our way through hordes of people, we strolled the streets at a leisurely pace. Lingered in a café. Enjoyed a heavenly choral rehearsal at the Hallsgrimkirkja...


Hallsgrimkirkja Church photo courtesy of Donna Sohoo


...and walked down the rainbow-painted Skolavördustigur Street back to the center of town.



Skolavördustigur Street photo courtesy of Donna Sohoo


After dinner we wandered over to Lake Tjörn (where the Parliament resides) to observe the 13th annual
candle-lighting ceremony honoring the victims of the bombings in Hiroshima & Nagasaki.


Lake Tjörn photo courtesy of Donna Sohoo

 

Hundreds of people gathered to float lit candles on the lake. It was such a simple but powerful gesture of humanity.

 

Once out of the city, even in peak tourist season Iceland rarely felt crowded. Driving inland and down to the southern coast of Iceland landscape of every variety unfolds before us: dramatic cliffs carved by tectonic plate activity, waterfalls staggering in their power and beauty, geysers erupting every 10 minutes.

 

The Golden Circle is an easy daytrip from Reykjavik and an amazing introduction to all Iceland has to offer. We visited Thingvellir, the original site of Iceland’s first parliament and where you can glimpse the earth’s tectonic plates slowly drifting apart.

 

Then it’s off to Gulfoss, a massive double waterfall, and finally to Geysir, (where the word geyser comes from), to see bubbling pots and well, geysers erupting.  All this plus reindeer burgers at Lindin Restaurant and a lovely meal in Selfoss concluded a very full day.

 


Photo of Strokkur Geyser, which erupts every eight to 10 minutes, courtesy of Donna Sohoo

 

Tune in tomorrow, when Donna Sohoo takes us to Ghost Waterfall and Lava Graveyard...

Leave a comment: