• Jessica Stough

Remembering Previous Trips - Iceland

“I travel because I become uncomfortable being too comfortable.” – Carew Papritz


We are barely more than a week away from our trip to Alaska, and I absolutely cannot wait. When we get this close to a trip, I really get the travel bug. I think it’s an even worse case this time around, though, because we haven’t stepped foot on a plane since Iceland, right before the world essentially shut down due to COVID.


I’ve already identified everything we need for our trip. Even still, when we get this close to a vacation, I start researching more things that we should buy. Thus far, Zac has kept me under control with pre-vacation purchases (I say this in the most loving way possible, promise!), but I will probably still have to sneak a few Amazon purchases in before we go. I mean, we haven’t even bought bear spray yet. Can one really go to Alaska without bear spray? I don’t know, but I also do not plan to find out!


Now that we are just over a week away from our trip, the big question is, when do people pack? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that question over the years - “Are you packed yet?”


To spare everyone the trouble of asking, the answer is literally always no, unless I am being asked the day we leave. If anyone can seriously explain to me how people back a week in advance for a trip, I would love to understand that craziness. I have questions. How do you pack your clothes a week ahead? How do you pack your deodorant, shampoo, and everything else a week in advance? What do you do for that week, unpack it and repack it all every day? It stresses me out just thinking about it.

 

The past two days, I had the opportunity to go through an excellent training program about speaking and communication. It has absolutely changed the way I view public speaking - both for myself and when watching others. In addition, it has provided me with a ton of information that will be beneficial for one-on-one conversations as well.


We got to choose any topics we wanted, and pretend that the audience was whoever we chose. During the program, one of the others in the group gave a presentation on Iceland. She wants to go to Iceland for her honeymoon, and her husband wants to go to Hawaii - so the presentation was to her husband, trying to sway him to choose Iceland.


The presentation gave me all the feels about how much I loved our trip to Iceland. It was only about a year and a half ago, but it feels like an eternity. I remember that on the flight back to the United States, the airlines asked us “Have you travelled to China in the past two weeks?” That was the extent of the COVID protocol then, just before everything went wild.

Iceland is not an extremely common place that people talk about visiting for vacation. I think that's why my ears perked up so much at her presentation. Iceland is just so exciting that everyone should seriously consider visiting at least once. I’ll go even a bit further and say everyone should consider visiting once in the winter and once in the summer (it is definitely on our list to go back in the summer).


There are a few main points that make Iceland an incredible, unique vacation getaway:

  • Glaciers. Nearly eleven percent of Iceland’s land mass is made up of glaciers. There are actually ten different types of glaciers there. Annually, deglaciation occurs at a rate of about 15.45 square miles, so there is a lot of information out there about how to help slow the melting of glaciers and decrease our carbon footprint.

  • Arctic Adventures (one of the absolute coolest tour businesses in Iceland, in my opinion) has more information about glaciers for those interested.

  • Arctic Adventures is the group that set us up for the absolute most memorable glacier hike and ice climbing excursion ever (check me out, climbing a glacier!).

  • Icelandic horses. The horses in Iceland are like none other. They have been bred for over 1,000 years strictly on the island, so they have no variations or genetic inputs from other breeds or types of horses. They are absolutely gorgeous, and there are chances around the island to stop on the side of the road to pet and feed the beautiful creatures.

  • Puffin. Everyone knows I’m obsessed with animals. I was so hopeful to see these cute little penguin-toucan looking birds when we were in Iceland. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to the right parts of the island and were there at a bit of a weird time, so we did not get a chance to see them.

  • The elf presence. The word álfafólk may not mean a lot to some, but it should. The belief of elves is a large part of Icelandic folklore and history, and álfafólk is their word for elf.

  • The Huldufólk, or ‘hidden people’. The Icelandic have folklore around elves, but also have folklore and history around ‘hidden people’. Oftentimes, the two are discussed interchangeably, but they are two different magical beings.

  • There are many articles about both álfafólk and huldufólk, where to find them, and even other prominent Icelandic folklore, including this one.

  • Iceland has such an incredible landscape. Just being there feels magical, so it is no wonder that elves and other magical beings are such a big part of their history.

  • Black sand beaches. Speaking of magical, the black sand beaches add an extra touch of that feeling. Iceland has multiple black sand beaches. There’s something about the contrast between the black sand and the rock walls behind the beaches that just absolutely take the breath away.

  • Northern Lights. Who doesn’t want to see the Northern Lights? Does one even have to describe why they’re so incredible? In more wintery seasons, Iceland has longer nights and shorter days, making it one of the perfect places to spot the Northern Lights when the weather is right.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how much we loved it there. We do not typically leave a vacation destination and think, Wow, that was cool. There are so many places we want to go in the world, but we want to go back there again before visiting any of the other places. That being said, we definitely had that thought about Iceland. Even in the winter, it was completely obvious that the summers would bring a different kind of magic to the location. I imagine that once travelling is a little less taboo again, we will be headed back that way sometime in the summer.

The people there were great and welcoming, their history is incredible, and the views are out of this world. Their food is off the charts (especially if you like fish!) and there is something new to do or see around every twist and turn. The absolute only thing I didn’t like about Iceland was that we ended up having to pay for a new windshield for our rental car - but that is a story for another day. Just know to get the rental car company’s insurance instead of relying on outside insurance.

I’m off to work now, but the countdown is officially on. Now that we are just over a week away from our next vacation, I’m going to start getting fidgety and antsy to leave. Hopefully, I can keep myself busy enough over the next week that the days will just fly by!


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