This year is a bit of a landmark year for me and my traveling adventures. It marks 10 years of when I went on my first international trip: A 9-week solo adventure through Western Europe. It took me a year to plan. I remember getting more and more frightened the closer I got to my departure date: September 23, 2002. It was a year after 9/11. I’d been reading about American backpackers having a difficult time traveling because there was so much animosity across the globe towards Americans due to the invasion of Iraq. I literally had nightmares of being attacked, the plane being hijacked, a lot of other weird scenarios. I found a way to push through the fear and boarded a plane from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, Iceland (via Icelandair). After a short layover there, I made my way to the first stop on my multi-city trip, Amsterdam, Netherlands. I basically did a clockwise loop, finishing in London, England. A whirlwind experience, but nothing short of completely wonderful.
While totally cliche, I truly did “find myself” on that trip. I saw a side to me I never knew I had in me. I met so many people and did so many things I never thought I would have. When I got home, I realized I had the bug. While self-diagnosed, I knew I’d never be cured of my wanderlust.
I leave for Iceland in less than 3 weeks. This is amazing to me. It’s been on my “Top 5 places to go” since I boarded that plane nearly 10 years ago. I remember not wanting to burn through all my reading materials right away, so when I sat in my seat, I started reading the Iceland brochures and watched a couple videos about the country. By the time the plane landed, I regretted not scheduling an extended layover there. I vowed I’d make it back one day. Talk about effective advertising!
Whenever I tell people about my upcoming trip to Iceland, I get very similar responses: “Iceland? What would make you want to go there? Isn’t it cold there?” Iceland should pay me for the public relations campaign I in turn go into — “No, Iceland is nice. Greenland has ice. Really, there’s a lot of great things to see there.” And I go on and on, talking about geothermal energy, natural hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers, active volcanoes, Icelandic horses, the land of the midnight sun, the music scene, the bar scene, spa treatments. Really, I could go on. And on. And on…
So, why Iceland?
Other than what I just mentioned, WHY NOT? I’ve heard from a number of people who’ve been there — everyone says the same thing: “You’ll love it. One of the coolest places I’ve been.” If you’ve ever seen a picture, it looks… amazing. I never thought anything could top the beauty and diversity of Thailand, so I’m excited to see what happens on this trip. Plus, Bjork is from there, and I think she’s pretty amaze-balls. So it can’t be all that bad, right?