My two weeks in Iceland were magical. I enjoyed the contrast of biking with a group the first week and then travelling by myself to the North the second week. In the first week I had physical challenges and enjoyed the group observations; in the second week I lingered in places rather than moving on, was more independent and spontaneous and talked to more Icelanders.
Biking in Iceland is challenging especially when one has the wind against one. However it is fine way to appreciate the beauty of the landscape. I loved the blue lupins that were part of the landscape in the south. I also loved seeing the geology. The rock formations in Dyrhoelaey Island (July 5) were very memorable with some rocks looking like skeins of wool. I loved the waterfalls in the south, (July 4 and 7) they were so forceful and elemental. I enjoyed relaxing in the thermal baths at the end of the day and I was amused by the Nordic protocol of showering naked before one goes into the pool.
The contrast between the white snow and black soil from the volcanic ash has an austere beauty that I saw at the volcanoes but also on the mountains. The beach near Vik (July 5) was like a Rothko painting with black and blue sand and sea. Mountain landscape around was beautiful with the different coloured rocks. The evening light on the basalt columns of Skissholmur Island (July 11) which I enjoyed whilst having an excellent fish supper was memorable.
In the north I loved the fjords round Siglufordur (July 13) and going out whale watching on the grey arctic ocean. The northern town of Akureyi was lovely to explore with its house dating back to the 19c and watching the evening light on the fjord. (July 14-16) I enjoyed visiting Lystigardurinn, the world’s most northerly garden on the south side of the valley and with clematis and aquilegias in bloom as well as many alpines. This contrasted with the grandeur of the vistas
I was delighted by the museums and lively art scene. The exhibition in the museum of Culture in Reykjavik linking together historical and cultural themes was a great exploration of Icelandic culture. (July 10) The installation by Roni Horn using endangered glacier water to make a library of water was thought provoking. (July13) The textile museum in Blondous (July 13) was a treat with the wool art by xx. In Akureyi it was fun to be there at the time of art festival. I also enjoyed the fabulous fish meals, cod and haddock cooked with different vegetables and also Icelandic fish and chips.
I was also surprised at how easy it was to drive around the island and how I could enjoy the grand vistas. The driving reminded me of America with empty roads and dramatic scenery and isolated farmhouses scattered over the landscape.
I am sure that I shall be back in Iceland to complete my circumnavigation of the island and to enjoy more culture.