Iceland Travel Writing Essay

812 WordsMay 4, 20144 Pages
I knew little then about Iceland, just a vague and mostly inaccurate mental picture of volcanoes, Viking longboats, pugnacious fishermen and bananas grown in geothermic greenhouses. I had no idea then of the eerie calm of the rift valley at Þingvellír (pronounced ‘Thing-vell-ear’), the blue-grey bubbling mud of the sulphuric acid fields at Hverarönd (pronounced ‘Kverra-runt’) or even the ferocious restaurant prices in Reykjavík (pronounced ‘ouch’). Silence was the first impression my father and I got in 2013 when we landed at Reykjavik airport and trod on Icelandic soil for the first time. That, and clean air of a quality that we near-neighbours of Heathrow found unimaginable in a major international airport. I am used to landing in murk and fumes and clamour, after a final approach skimming over tower blocks and burnt-out cars. Approaching Reykjavik, however, all one sees is a desolate lava field stretching for miles, a twisted mass of congealed green-black rock that grows closer and closer to your window as the aircraft descends. Finally, just at the point at which you begin to believe there’s no airport at all and an emergency landing is imminent, buildings start to appear. Iceland is so sparsely populated that it qualifies to enter a team in the Games of the Small States of Europe, an Olympics for the San Marinos, Andorras and Liechtensteins of the continent. Its airport – compact, with a car park too small for the average branch of Waitrose – is the first clue to this paucity of people. A man called Helgi was charged with collecting us in Reykjavik and delivering us to Grundarfjördur, in the west of Iceland. He turned to face his British passengers before looking back at the road and remarked casually that Reykjavik airport had never been closed as a consequence of bad weather. Helgi, it soon became apparent, had almost single-handedly held Iceland together

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