The Couch Traveler: Iceland

Chelsea Parker, Staff Writerthe-couch-traveler

Welcome to The Couch Traveler, where we explore a different country that you should definitely add to your travelling list every month. This month’s country: Iceland.

I had the pleasure of travelling to Iceland last November, and it is safe to say that Iceland is potentially the most magical country on all of Earth—I mean, I’ve only been to like five countries, but that is beside the point. I urge you, if you have the chance to visit the country, whether it be on a layover to somewhere or an actual vacation, please visit Iceland.

A few things you should know before you go: their currency is krona, their national sport is handball, and the majority of the population believes in elves. The population is about three times less than the population of Edmonton, there isn’t a single McDonald’s anywhere in Iceland, they’ve had a democratic government since 930, and they were nation to have elected a female prime minister and an openly gay prime minister. Oh! Did I mention that mosquitos do not exist in Iceland and raw puffin heart is a delicacy? What a place!

Iceland has a six-hour time difference from Edmonton and it’s about a five-hour flight, so I’ll admit, the first day is tiring. Very tiring. Take a nap. You will thank yourself. Assuming you have the energy to get something to eat, I’d recommend trying out The Laundromat Café, this exquisite little café with a laundromat in the basement … I’m sure you gathered that from the name. Their food is delicious, their coffee is even better, and the overall ambience of the place is inviting and warm. They have books everywhere and strawberry water!

For accommodation, I always stay in hostels or apartments when I travel, because it saves on money and usually offers everything you need. I stayed in Apartment K in Reykjavík, which is a super cheap yet oddly charming and definitely a hospitable little apartment in the heart of the city. The supermarkets in Reykjavík are very accessible, so it isn’t required for you to eat out every day, because that can get pricey.

The attractions in Iceland are what really make the country so spectacular. With ethereal waterfalls and hot springs, there is so much that you can do on such a small island. The Golden Circle tour is a day tour that allows you to explore three of Iceland’s most stunning sights, starting with the Geysir geothermal area shoots a column of water to shoot 30 metres in the sky. Then the tour follows the Gullfoss waterfall, which tumbles into a hole 32 metres deep. Finally, the tour stops at Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart and drastically changing the park’s landscape.

Another place of interest is the black sand beaches of Vik. This small town has a population of about 300 and is two hours away from Reykjavík. The glacial lake in Jökulsárlón is crystal blue and is full of glacial ice that travels right into the ocean in front of your eyes. The fjords in the north of the island are said to resemble Scotland’s—but are much better. In the capital city, the big church, Hallgrímskirkja, is of interest and so is the Harpa Concert Hall. My point is that on an island that is the same size of Ohio, there is much more to do than you could ever imagine.  

But finally, the thing that Iceland is probably most known for is the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in the middle of nowhere with—wait for it—blue water and skincare benifits that are gloriously wonderful. The floor is natural rock and the temperature is about 38 degrees Celsius. It’s wonderful and warm and one of the 25 wonders of the world.

So, that’s Iceland. Magical, spectacular, ethereal. It’s one of those places you will never forget, and you will want to return to over and over again. I hope that you get to travel there one day.

 

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