by Jenny Gao
Iceland was never a dream destination of ours. We wanted to spend a month in sunny France, but from North America IcelandAir’s stopover programme made sense. We might as well, despite how overrated Iceland seemed through Instagram.
Boy, were we wrong.
Despite the jetlag, we milked our three short days in Iceland to the maximum. Every day we’d set out early in the morning with our haul of various Skyr yoghurts and expensive supermarket sandwiches, and come back to our Airbnb at 3am. We took power naps in the car when exhaustion took hold. The scenery was even more breathtaking than any Instagram photo we’d seen. It was dramatic, wind-swept and incredibly diverse. Perhaps partially thanks to fatigue, but we could barely believe what we were experiencing.
I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Iceland and my home, New Zealand. Both share eerie similarities. Both are physically isolated, socially advanced, happy (topping global liveability charts), and highly volcanic. Both are strewn with winding country roads, geysers, glaciers and waterfalls. The people in both countries carry with them a unique, laid-back disposition. For these reasons, I couldn’t help but fall even more in love with this tiny little island nation.
During summer, Iceland experiences a complete midnight sun. It’s pretty much light out all the time, and in the hours of 2am-4am the sky is a surreal, alien-like pink. It was under this pink dusk-dawn sky that we precariously walked behind gushing waterfalls, explored underground ice caves and ran across bouncy carpets of moss.
Iceland completely blew me away with its desolate beauty, and reminded me of the importance of remaining open. After you travel for a while, you establish an idea of which countries you’d like, or wouldn’t. It’s okay to let those expectations go sometimes.