Tuesday, 14 March 2017

REYKJAVIK | ICELAND


Iceland was my first time at dipping my toes into the world of solo travel and it was a toe dip I did not regret! I absolutely loved travelling on my own. I got to meet lots of lovely people, only had to think about myself and did exactly what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted to. It was ace.

I went on three tours while I was there so I will go a bit more into those in a minute. It was the perfect cold holiday because I was driven around most of the time and I was wrapped up super warm in all my winter clothes when I was outside. I had a lot of me thinking time on the coach journies too. I thought about my father a lot and felt closer to him while I was travelling. There were so many signs and it just made me feel as though being away had put me in alignment with my higher self and that was why they were presenting themselves then. I miss my Dad so much but the very essence of who I am and how I live my life is all thanks to him so I can only feel grateful that I had him at all. 'I keep a part of you with me, and everywhere I am - there you'll be'.

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR
I went on two northern lights tours because the first night I went, it was so cloudy and I only got to see a few faint lines and dots. I went with Reykjavik Excursions - they have a policy in which if you do not see the lights in all their glory you can have a second trip free of charge, so I went the following night too. The second night was so much better for the lights as they were clear skies and it was just beautiful. I got a fuzzy feeling in my belly standing there watching them soar accross the sky as we all stood there in complete awe.

When my Dad was alive I did plan on taking him to Scotland to see the aurora (goddess of dawn) borealis (greek god of northern winds), so I thought I would be overcome with emotion and break down into tears. However, I didn't because I knew he would have hated how cold it was there and standing outside in the cold for hours just wouldn't have been his thing - I did feel a lot of gratitude for the fact I was seeing them and I only exist because of him.

I feel so grateful I got to see something that many may not get to see in a lifetime. I am so completely grateful that I have crossed this off my life bucket list - I have wanted to do it for the longest time and they did not disappoint. They're amazing and like nothing else I have seen before. 


THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
If you're taking a trip to Reykjavik, I 100% recommend taking this tour. I went with an excursion company called 'BusTravel' and our tour guide 'Harpa' was simply wonderful. She was so kind, friendly and informative. I learned so much about Iceland and it's nature from her. I learned a lot about the way Icelandic people respect nature and approach it with both corteousy and curiosity. She was saying that they have learned to live with earthquakes, the ground splitting and volcanos erupting... and they actually find it quite interesting.

The Golden Circle tour has a few destinations on it. We went to two waterfalls, which were absolutely beautiful. We went and saw the sulpher geysers and we saw the Golden Circle crater. The whole day was a day of being in and witnessing the amazing things nature had to offer. I really enjoyed being near waterfalls as the sound of a waterfall is one of my favourite sounds on this planet. I did hate that there was a salmon ladder next to one of the waterfalls. Humans can be so cruel sometimes - why are you building a ladder to kill animals in their own habitat? Anyway, the salmon got smart and stopped breeding so they can't do that anymore. 

I saw cracks that went down into the earth and I saw steaming geysers where the earth has cracked, the holes are full of water and they're closer to the centre of the earth and therefore boiling. Harpa was saying that her Mum used to use these to wash clothes and boil food like eggs in. I find Iceland so fascinating for the fact that it's nature gives so much back to humans. It is cold yes, but then you have all of these amazing ways to survive that nature provided. 

  
THE SECRET LAGOON 

The secret lagoon really is a secret because there was no Wi-FI or phone service there to find your location and I couldn't seem to find out where it was anywhere on the internet. I absolutely loved the secret lagoon. When you go to a hot country - you go in and out of the water to heat up and cool down. So, you go in the pool to cool down and sit in the sun to warm up but here it was the other way around. After twenty minutes in this beautiful thermal bath I got out and cooled down in my swimsuit in the snow and it felt amazing.

They were so nice at the secret lagoon. I didn't have a bathing suit so they gave me a rental one free of charge which was handy as buying a bikini there would have probably cost me an arm and a leg going by all the other places (I will talk about prices later on in this post).

While I was swimming around the lagoon I felt at total peace with the world and I feel doing this alone has healed me in ways I did not know I needed to be healed. I thought about my Dad a lot and how he taught me how to swim, I know he would have loved to have been there with me - and I know in many ways he was there with me because he is a part of me and I am a product of his design both via nurture and nature. I took the time to look at my hands and feet and really appreciate that I am exisiting right here, right now and I also had one of those moments where you are at complete peace with life and death. I thought to myself 'I could die right now' and although that sounds morbid - death is something we all must accept as that's the way we are all headed and it gives me great comfort knowing I will be going wherever my Dad has gone one day.

I had originally planned to go to the Blue lagoon but I didn't realise you have to book very far in advance so if you're planning a trip to Iceland, check if the blue lagoon is available and book as far in advance as you can!  

EXPLORING REYJAVIK
It was when exploring Reyjavik on my own that I really started seeing signs that my Dad was right there with me. Unless you have lost someone close to you, you probably won't understand this and think I am crazy, but that's cool because when your time does come around (which I pray is later rather than sooner for you) - you will see.
 
Before arriving in Reyjavik I had wanted to climb to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral, in order to see the beautiful view over the whole city, but the queue was so long and you had to pay to go up there so I changed my mind in the end. Hoewver, when I arrived at the Church, I had the best feeling and since my father died I keep seeing the spiritual number 11:11 (read into it if you're intrigued) and as I arrived with this feeling I looked down and there it was again 11:11 on my phone screen. It made me smile and I felt I was on the right path.


I then went to Kaffi Vinyl for a muffin and a hot chocolate and oh my actual goodness - IT WAS AMAZING. Both together came to £11.00 but considering it was cosy, vegan and the staff were so nice, I think that is pretty much a bargain for Iceland prices. The muffin was made with cacao, walnuts and vanilla icing and the hot chocolate had cinamon in. I'm so glad I got to go to this cafe but when I go back I'd quite like to try their lasagne and go for dinner to experience their live music. I was gutted because they were having a Japanese' themed night the day that I left and that would have been fun. 


I went and had a look at the beautiful lake and the Harpa opera house. Why are opera houses in Scandanavia and Iceland so blooming beautiful? They all have a similar style to them and they're all built with beautiful, beautiful materials. The view behind the opera house is also one I wish to keep locked in my brain forever, the view of the lake and the mountains walking around the city makes it spectacular. 

On my walk back to where I was staying I decided to buy a keyring because I always get a keyring on my travels and I thought to myself 'I'll buy one that speaks to me' after having a look in two shops that didn't have anything I liked. Then I went to a third shop and looked straight down at this light bulb keyring and knew it was a sign from my Pa. You see, when he first died - a lightbulb that hadn't been working for months just lit up twice as if someone had screwed it in and me and my mum were so shocked and then there was this bulb that I knew meant something. I bought it, and as I was buying it, a song came on - 'You'll remember me as the west wind moves, upon the fields of Barley...' - a song that both myself and my father held dear with one another. 


On the walk back I then randomly stopped and felt I had to take a photo of this cute house. I looked at the photo after and it was number '68' - his age now. I know this may seem like I am clutching at straws to some people but I am a very, very intuitive person and I know within the depths of my soul that these signs were real. I'm not an idiot and I am real and I don't try to find things in things I know are not there with anything in life. 

I literally skipped all the way home. I passed the beautiful Tjornin frozen lake and laughed at the ducks trying to out quack one another and just as I did in the secret lagoon, I felt completely at peace with the world.     

 
THE PRICES
Every time you speak to someone about Iceland, they will ask or tell you about how expensive it is, and they are right. I have travelled around Scandanavia and the prices there are quite high but Iceland even managed to blow them out of the water. The prices are ridiculously high for food and drink. I paid £29.00 in one place for some fries, a can of beer and a salad bun. I paid £6.50 in a hostel for a chickpea, pomegranate and salad wrap, and worst of all - I paid £7.50 for the tiniest pack of strawberries in a supermarket. I was rather appalled by the prices to tell you the truth but what you gain from experience here does make up for what you have to spend on living for a few days.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I LOVE ICELAND and I will be going back in the future. I would love to go back again and see the south side of the island. I would like to see the northern lights again with someone else and I would love to go back in Summer also to see how beautiful the landscape is when it's a bit warmer. I won't be going back any time soon though as I have plans to see other places first.

The nature of this country really makes it so unique to anywhere I have seen before. I have never been to somewhere with so many interesting things going on at once. Driving around in the snowy landscapes is just picturesque and the people of Iceland are absolutely wonderful. They are polite, helpful and they all seem to share a love for nature and the planet for which is obviously a huge win for me. 

I gained so much from my trip to Iceland. I feel that travelling solo has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me. It has made me realise how independent I actually am. It's also made me realise that I actually quite like myself. I am my own best friend. Time alone with my own mind has made me see how much I like the way I think and the way I have a strong sense of self. I love my humour and I love my confidence to speak to anyone. Travelling alone made me see how much I love to be kind to others, I made a few lovely, lovely friends on the way - we have already planned to meet up again, which is very exciting. It is such an empowering feeling to know that you yourself are enough to do whatever you wish to do in this life and I suggest that everyone goes out and grabs that feeling whichever way they can. 

Before leaving Iceland I cried my eyes out - I don't do that very often anymore, but I felt so close to myself and my father there. I felt in tune with what I am meant to be doing with my life, which is travelling and meeting interesting and new people while learning about new cultures, making memories and gaining some life experience. This is me and I am free.


 'When people ask me what I want from this life I always respond with 'Freedom' instead of happiness because to me they are one in the same, and without freedom, happiness cannot exist. Let my soul dance and it'll do it beside you or don't and it'll dance without you'. - Lisamarie Fossum, Daughter of Glenn Stuart Martin.

Check out my Iceland photo diary here.

Peace out Potatoes xo
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