The Land of Fire & Ice
There are not enough adjectives in the world to describe Iceland. Pictures and video come closer to doing this country of contrasts justice. Still, they don’t adequately capture the essence of the Land of Ice and Fire. Iceland exemplifies the destination you have to see to believe. Even then, it’s hard to wrap your mind around how this island the size of Ohio can have such an overwhelmingly unique personality.
If history starts when humans enter the picture, then Iceland is relatively new. While mainland Europe had already seen the rise and fall of Minoan, Roman and Germanic empires, Iceland was still virgin territory until the Vikings arrived in the 9th Century. These seafaring explorers were the first to lay eyes on the ethereal geysers, glaciers, lagoons, volcanoes, waterfalls and Northern Lights that make even the most elaborate soundstage in Hollywood seem lifeless.
If distinct geological features are the face of Iceland, then its people—a hardy, yet humble population of 300,000—are its pulse. Many are descendants of the original settlers and they’ve preserved a culture influenced by mythical sagas and a degree of imagination that only centuries of isolation and an extreme environment can incite. The capital city, Reykjavík, is a testament of Iceland’s contributions to modernity— music, fashion, literature and art—largely inspired by the surrounding natural elements.
After all, this is the place of paradox. It’s where some of the world’s most hospitable people dwell in one of the world’s harshest settings. Under the dancing bright lights of the Aurora and above the churning magma chambers, it’s where frozen meets afire.