If there is one country I’ve been absolutely, positively DYING to go to (that’s not New Zealand) it’s Iceland.
I feel like this is not a coincidence. Both have incredible, unique, epic landscapes. Both are remote, not-easily-reached-or-thought-about destinations. And both have been featured in the two of my favorite books-turned-tv/movie: Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.
Are you really surprised?
Once again I probably shouldn’t be admitting this publicly, but my interest in Iceland began to develop in college when I enrolled in not one, but TWO classes about Old English and Old Norse, AND studied Scandinavian mythology. For fun.
I’m never going to get a boyfriend now. Sigh.
Source: Jean Isard
I first started *seriously* thinking about visiting Iceland back this winter when I managed to nab a week off from my job from hell. At this point I had been virtual friends with Inga, the creative genius behind Tiny Iceland, for a few months.
Sipping my standard morning Starbucks, I would delay the inevitable barrage of client emails by looking though my Instagram feed instead. Much more enjoyable and far less likely to give me a panic attack. And let me just say, every time Tiny Iceland would pop up, my eyes would glaze over with my ultimate travel fantasy. Northern Lights. Vikings. Waterfalls. Glaciers. Vikings. Ponies. Puffins. Did I mention Vikings?
At this point, I tweeted Inga saying I wanted to come to Iceland in February, but being so last minute (like how most of my life functions), it ended up not working out and I headed to Turkey instead. But over the next few months the idea of Iceland stayed stuck in the back of my head like a Taylor Swift song. I would go to Iceland before New Zealand or die trying.
Luckily Inga was as crazy as me and we decided to embark on what would ultimately turn into a massive, insane adventure now known from hereon forward as #IcelandChallenge.
But more on that in a minute.
Source: Tim Vollmer
When the opportunity arose for me to go to Italy in June, I knew this was my chance. Living in Europe on and off for years, I had heard about Icelandair’s stopover over and over again. Geographically Iceland sits right on the airline route between North America and Europe, and until recently, most people just flew on over without stopping and taking in the dramatic, wild beauty that is ICELAND.
That is until Icelandair thought of the rather ingenious initiative to offer FREE stopovers in Iceland between Europe and the US and Canada for up to 7 days to encourage more people to visit. Between that and the vikings I was sold.
“I’m coming to Iceland either in June or July.” I rashly messaged Inga without a hint of a plan. “I want to do the weird stuff that no one talks about. I want to chase some elves. I want to follow in the footsteps of the great horned viking gods. I want to eat that freaky rotten shark dish. Let’s make this happen.”
And thus the #IcelandChallenge was born.
How much can you see in Iceland in 7 days?
Well, in the summer quite a lot since the SUN NEVER SETS! Welcome to the Arctic!
A week from today I will be embarking on a journey to the land of the midnight sun, to the land of fire and ice! The the ancestral home of the vikings. This is going to be an adventure of a lifetime!
I am equally excited because my sister-from-another-mister, Marika, will be joining us from the charming bohemian town of Portland, Oregon. Now Marika was my medieval studies cohort at university, combined with the fact that she is an incredible illustrator, photographer and overall artist (she designed my blog banner) we are planning to produce some very interesting content along with Inga and Tiny’s intern Laura.
4 girls. 1 island. 7 days. This is going to get interesting.
Source: Sverrir Thorolfsson
I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but let’s say that hiking around volcano and glaciers, talking with elf whispers, searching for the Icelandic version of Loch Ness, exploring viking graves, and driving the circumference of Iceland in our awesome Sixt car is on the agenda.
While we tried to plan out the 7 day adventure, and by “we” I mean Inga, I had some really specific ideas and goals for what I wanted to get out of this trip. The past few years, Iceland has (deservedly) been getting a lot of recognition and has become a fairly popular destination in summer. Owing to the fact that I read so many blogs and online publications, I’ve noticed that many people who write about Iceland write about the exact same things over and over again.
But I want this trip to be different. By spending most of our time outside Reykjavik and in the countryside and in the far-flung corners of the northeast, I am really hoping to get to know a side of Iceland that few people have talked about. The quirky side of this frontier nation, and above all interact with the natives. But most of all I want to learn more about the Iceland of legends, mythical Iceland. Cough, cough, the VIKINGS. All-caps.
Inga tells me it is Víkingar in Icelandic. See? I’m learning already!
We are circling the entire country in just 7 days to check out remote regions and areas that I can’t for the life of me pronounce without risking facial paralysis.
Laugarvatn. Vík. Höfn. Fljótdalshérað. Akureyri. Reykjavík.
Seriously, can any of YOU pronounce those? Mission number 1: learn some Icelandic to fit in with the locals.
We will be resting our tired heads at night (or not night actually, since the sun doesn’t set) at both Icelandair hotels and Edda hotels around the country, giving us a huge opportunity to sleep in the wild Icelandic outback instead of basing ourselves in the capital.
Apart from the fact that this is step one of me completely butchering the Icelandic language, this trip is about fulfilling a dream. And I want to show you how you can do the same. So many people have a dream trip, a secret they keep locked away, putting it on a pedestal saying “one day” and “this is my dream trip” firmly assuring that it will most likely never happen.
I understand. I do the same thing. How many times have I flown between DC and Europe over the years and I’ve never stopped in Iceland until now, even though it’s been at the top of my travel list? But this year I made a promise to myself to make seemingly impossible things happen. And you can too.
Not to mention Tiny Iceland and I will show you just how much you can see and do in Iceland in 7 days or less.
Anywho, this trip is big for me, and I hope you will follow along on our adventures through Iceland from July 18 to 25. I will be live sharing everything on my Twitter, Facebook and Instagram under the hashtags #IcelandChallenge and #TripInIceland.
So really, do you think you can see very much in just 7 days in Iceland? Challenge accepted!
Have you ever been to Iceland? Do you have any tips for us? Will you be in Iceland at the same time as me?
Source: Kilian Schönberger