We arrived in Iceland in one of those evenings that never turn into night… In June, when days are long and light lasts almost twenty hours. Even now that the big clock of Keflavík airport says it’s 3.30 a.m., and sleep seems to prevail, a dim light paints our first Icelandic landscapes – dramatic, intense, wonderful landscapes. They will be the background to our stay in Iceland, a country where traveling means getting continuous surprises, and emotions are at the very center of every experience even in the most isolated places. We fell in love with Iceland, with its ability to be rough and poetic at the same time, to be poignant and unpredictable. And maybe all this passion was reciprocated since luck never abandoned us – not even at midnight, in the middle of nowhere, with no fuel in the car and a seemingly out of order gas pump. People always helped us, sometimes even pampered us. We appreciated all of this country, even the weather: “If you don’t like the weather now, wait five minutes… it’ll probably get worse” says a local saying.

A light rain marked our first shots but it didn’t ruin them: fluorescent green meadows decorated with tiny houses that seem to be made of Lego bricks, clouds recalling our grandmothers’ embroideries, and stretches of wild lupines lighting up gentle slopes in tones of violet. Powerful scenery and natural light wipe tiredness away, leaving a pleasant sense of energy and the desire to discover and enjoy all the aspects of this paradise so close to the Arctic Circle. The next day, we took a walk in the city center and we visited the old port. Everything seems to move slower here, but this apparent relaxing atmosphere conceals an effervescent cultural life. Avant-garde music and modern art are at its heart as well as sophisticated fusion cuisine and designer cafés, where one can take his time and even enjoy a chess match. People here seems to know the secret to live well, balancing work and well being, surrounded by a nature that has a truly leading role. In Iceland, environment protection is real. This country entirely relies on green energy which is mainly produced through the steaming water flowing underground. This green island is very generous with its inhabitants.

Take for example the Blue Lagoon, an open-air natural pool set among lava rocks and containing seawater flowing from the underground at 38° C. This water is very rich in minerals, silica and seaweeds that stimulate the natural production of collagen, a great polisher for our skin. The light blue water, the black lava and the white steam rising to the sky create an amazing contrast. This is one of the places foreigners like the most, but Icelanders prefer to dive into nature and usually choose more isolated geothermal pools. These countless lakes, scattered among the mountains, are perfect to take a hot bath surrounded by a pristine landscape. This is a less comfortable option for sure because one has to undress on the lake shore, but it’s a truly authentic experience. Reykjadalur offers this kind of experience: a hot river crosses this valley which also houses some hot pools and some thermal mud pools. Here relaxation is within reach… but destinations are just a part of the beauty of this country. While traveling in Iceland, along the way one can admire a great variety of equally moving natural sights: vertiginous falls plunging from the peaks, geysers coming out from the earth, spectacular icebergs detaching from glaciers, and meadows crossed by horses with long manes. The horizon offers lingering landscapes that looks like wonderful watercolors. These sights can calm one’s soul and recharge body and mind. Here nature is majestic, silence is absolute, and energy is almost palpable. Long daylight hours give more stamina and bedtime is pushed later and later. Reykjavík spa treatments are just as miraculous as the impressive nature of this country. People admiring landscapes in awe are quite common. On the shores of Thingvallavatn lake – which reflects the surrounding mountains – Valgeir, the father of lively Odinn, Baldur, and Embla, explains: “While watching these landscapes, one can find some peace and think, forgetting about stress and rediscovering natural balance as well as our connection with the earth. This is paradise.”. That’s true… but not if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no fuel. When we were dreading we would have to spend the night at the gas station, a kind cleaning lady just appeared unlocking the pump and allowing us to fill up our gas tank. Did I already tell you that it seems that Iceland is inhabited by gnomes, elves and fairies? It goes without saying that Stefania and I believe they are real!

Elena Vaghi

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