Embracing the Icelandic way
The pungent smell of sulphur invades my nostrils as I approach a loosely shaped circle of stones. Waves of steam drift across the water’s surface indicating we have arrived at the right place. This is one of the many thousands of natural geothermal pools found all over Iceland. And I’m about to indulge in my first hot bath after driving almost 400 kilometres along the stunning coastline of Iceland’s West Fjord region. I am more than ready to relax and unwind.
This remote pocket called Bjarkerholt in the west of Iceland is a tiny blip on the road map. There are four houses and one of them is our home for the night. Our host, Rognvaldur, a tall Viking type (I’m trying not to stereotype here) has welcomed us to his guest house. After quickly showing us around the kitchen and lounge, Rognvaldur pointed out the hot pool across the road, which we are making a bee line towards. Even though it’s a brisk four degrees and the chilly wind is blowing, seemingly straight from Greenland (the next island across the Denmark strait) I’m still keen for my first Icelandic hot pool experience. The previous night at Stykkisholmur, my travel buddy and I considered visiting the local thermally heated pool, but were too tired from driving for most of the afternoon after flying into Keflavik.
It is 7pm, but the sun is high in the sky – a few more hours of daylight awaits. We strip off our warm outer gear (and there are a few layers) carefully stepping onto the slippery moss covered rocks and into the welcoming warmth. These outdoor thermal pools are a civilised way to enjoy the unique natural surrounds of Iceland. Submerged under the warm water, a towering snow covered mountain in the distance, is one of our many surreal Iceland moments. The silence is deafening.
After only two days, I’m embracing Iceland’s uniqueness – nature at its raw and unyielding best.
I’ve also been realising as I am snapping away like a crazy tourist with my camera, images cannot capture the rugged beauty of this country. With every bend in the road and a new peninsula to discover the scenery changes and another exclamation of “wow!”
“Oh wow!” is becoming our normal.
It is the middle of May – summer is approaching but it is not yet peak tourist season and in the less visited West Fjords region we don’t feel the influx of tourists so often talked about in Iceland now. Millions of tourists are lured to Iceland each year. Incredible to consider such numbers in a country with only 300,000.
We’re happy with our decision to head west and explore the roads less travelled. With the wonderful long days of daylight, driving the roads at 9pm at night is a pleasurable experience, there is minimal passing traffic.
The sun is shining – its the beginning of a magical journey.