the place i can’t get out of my head

i don’t know where my obsession with iceland came from… because it is an obsession, full-blown. maybe it was in college at some point when an acquaintance of mine did a one month seminar in reykjavik in the mid-aughts. it was the first time i had ever heard of someone going to reykjavik, besides that one time the mighty ducks went there to play the “evil icelanders” in D2: the mighty ducks.

but i digress. i became quickly enchanted with even the idea of visiting this island that met all of my criteria for a fascination: isolated. island. big enough, but not too big. a mysterious history steeped in myth. extremely remarkable geological features unlike most other places on earth. but for me, i seem to be in the minority as it isn’t purely the natural beauty that draws me there, although it’s definitely a factor. it’s cold, northern, unpredictable. a culture and language that grew and evolved separately from any other place… because it is so far from any other place. infinitely intriguing.

when i became a finalist and in the end, one of the lucky chosen ones who won a trip to iceland in 2011 as part of a tourism-booster campaign, it was a dream come true for me. although the trip didn’t exactly go as i had hoped, it left a big imprint on me. why wasn’t my iceland trip as perfect as what they show on those promotional videos? what did i do wrong? i wondered a lot about this for years.

when i went back for the first time nearly two years ago, i made sure to do it right. i got out of reykjavik. i spent two weeks with an icelandic family, helping out with tasks around the house, harvesting local botanicals to make pure essential oils, and more berry-picking than you could probably stand. i stayed on an even more northern and more remote island within iceland. i rented a camper for a whirl along the southern coast and back.

i wish i could say that that trip satisfied the thirst, but it seems like iceland enters the conversation between alex and i almost on a daily basis. when i meditate, i imagine laying cushioned on a mossy bed on a hillside with crowberries scattered around, staring at the white sky with slowly passing grey clouds and perhaps a light misty rain every now and again, just like i did spending a few weeks in western iceland. i pine to smell the sulfur in the air again, or even in the water.

i think the next best thing to going somewhere is to read loads of books and watch icelandic films, which i like to do every so often (but especially recently, because man, i’ve been on a real trip!) i drink my favorite icelandic teas, one of which i made while staying on the farm, made from birch leaves and reindeer moss.

(funny anecdote about that: after i had picked loads of birch leaves and was drying them on a pan on the kitchen counter, one of our hosts enters the room, looks at the scattered leaves all over the counter and simply remarks, “making some tea, huh?” apparently this is a completely normal activity for the household i found myself in!)

i spend an hour or so planning out and researching entire, hypothetical itineraries that may not even be realized… okay, let’s be real, of course they will. there is always an iceland trip on the docket. maybe even this year (if not the next), if i can manage it with everything else that’s going on.

even a short, one-week trip will satisfy the iceland itch… for a little while, that is. one of my next priorities will definitely be concentrating on the dreamy and mystical west fjords. a place i have seen only through my dreams multiple times. then there is every november, when iceland airwaves rolls around that i get especially “itchy”.

although my history with iceland has been rocky (insert lava rock joke here), i am pleased i persisted on my never-ending quest to get to know it better.

what is a place that you can’t get out of your head? any fellow icelandophiles out there?

this post is a part of the april travel link-up.

ps, if you want to see more scenes from my last big trip, check out the video (my first!).