As the Russian winter settles in, visiting Iceland is perhaps the last place you might be thinking of visiting. Time, however, passes quickly, and you may find the following article and photographs interesting to spark your imagination for a place to visit next year (editor).

Iceland – the land of ice and fire

Text and photos by Ana Simonovska, a musician, videographer, photographer and journalist.

Sitting on two continental plates, the Eurasian and North American, Iceland is well known for its breathtaking landscapes, unpredictable volcanos and huge glaciers, geysers, thousands of waterfalls, oddly shaped rock formations, endless lava fields covered with a thick layer of tender moss, smoky geothermal areas, hundreds of thousands of birds, friendly horses and sheep, and gentle giants – the whales and seals.

‘Out of this world’ and raw

Needless to say, this land of contrasts, so rich in natural beauty, unique in so many ways, has the sort of potential needed to give you an unforgettable experience. Some of the places are totally ‘out of this world’, exceptionally beautiful, isolated, raw and very often dangerous. Should you ever decide to visit Iceland, here are a few of tips, that you might find helpful. They are based on my personal experience made during a 3,600 km round trip, reaching almost every corner of this mesmerizing land.

Take care of yourself

It’s imperative to take care of yourself, assess your physical abilities honestly and use your common sense, when you’re on your way to ‘conquering’ Iceland. Very often, you’ll walk rocky, slippery and steep paths, with almost nothing to hold on. From my point of view, exactly this raw, unrefined nature of the island, will work on your survival instinct as a shot of caffeine, making you feel more alive than you’ve felt for a long time. Just make sure you stay alive.

Iceland will blow you away

Iceland will blow you away. Literally. We were in the Southeast region, not too far from Reykjavik, when it became clear we’re experiencing something out of the ordinary. After being stopped by the police and advised not to continue our drive, due to strong winds, we had no other choice but to wait it out. It came with such force that it moved the vehicle on the parking lot. It was very, very scary. The car was shaking and it felt as it would flip over. Walking was close to impossible. We were ‘stranded’ near the Black Sand beach in the Vik area for two days and for another day a little bit further on the way up to the North.

Bring all you have

No matter the time of the year that you decide to visit Iceland, it’s a very good idea to bring clothing for all types of weather conditions, as you’ll most probably face all that you can imagine and more. Rain, hail, the above-mentioned winds, the rocky, slippery terrains, and mud. Make sure you’re well protected from the elements and you have reliable footwear. Don’t forget your bathing suite in case you want to pay a visit to The Blue Lagoon.

The Northern Lights and the Midnight sun

The winters nights are long and there’s a good chance you’ll see the light shows of all light shows –The Northern Lights. During the summer, on the other hand, you’ll get the chance to experience the ‘midnight sun’, as it doesn’t really get dark at all.

Check road conditions frequently

If you decide to rent a vehicle and plan your own route on the go, it would be smart to check road conditions frequently. The weather is quite unpredictable and can drastically vary from place to place. Roads can be closed if needed, so it’s a good idea to keep yourself well informed.

Icelanders are nice!

With a little bit over 300,000 inhabitants, two thirds of which live in the capital city, Iceland is a very sparsely populated land. You won’t see too many people on your way, but the ones you’ll meet will most probably be nice, friendly and helpful.

Camping, internet and more…

Iceland is camping friendly (in the summer). In most of the settlements there are dedicated camping grounds where you can rest, clean up, take a shower, take care of your camping van, sometimes even completely without charge. Internet connectivity was good most of the time even in the remote western fjords. We had no problems using navigation apps. It’s a good idea to get a local SIM-card before you hit the road. The airport is a good place to buy alcoholic drinks, since you won’t be able to purchase them in the supermarkets.

Ask Google

Beyond any doubt, taking a round trip in Iceland requires a fair amount of research. The better you prepare yourself, the stronger are the chances you’ll have a good experience and make adjustments according to the weather… if you decide to stay in Reykjavik or in one of the other bigger towns in the vicinity and take organized day trips to the nearby attractions, you’ll, of course, have less to think about. However, before taking your chance on Iceland in whichever format you prefer, do your research well. There are literally hundreds of travel guides, tips, advises… just ask Google.

About the author Ana Simonovska:

Born in Skopje, Macedonia, a long time ago. Legend has it that I started singing before I could speak. True or not, I like that version of events, mostly told by my mother.

I first started playing guitar, then learned piano and Macedonian folk instruments during my high school years and my studies at the Academy of Music and Art in my home town.

For a long time, ever since I can remember, it was the music that was gave  me the perfect ‘playground’, a space to creatively express myself.

I started writing songs when I was in elementary school and got my first chance to sing one of them at the National Song Festival ‘Skopje’ in 1999. A couple more public performances followed in the next years.

I was also a member of a rock-band, we performed in clubs and recorded several tunes together. After leaving the band, I continued working with some of the best Macedonian music producers…

In the meantime, I discovered the magical world of photography and video. Working as a journalist, I had got the opportunity to learn some creative software tools like Photoshop, Premiere and After Effects, which has opened a new, exciting dimension for me. Beside taking photographs and making short travel videos, I’ve come to the point when I can create my own music videos too.

In that way, my different passions have come together and make a  beautiful ‘whole’, giving me the opportunity to ‘embed’ myself completely – from the first tone of a melody, the words of the lyrics, to the last frame of the project.

Ana Simonovska, published 26.11.2017 © RussiaKnowledge

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