Jose Lopez Fontane
New York, New York Travel Agent
The Magic of Iceland
One of the most magical trips I have taken was to Iceland. Much of the landscape feels like you are on the moon; it is that different. There are large stretches of frozen lava flows, with rocks and boulders with almost no vegetation.
Nature also displays her power in wild ways. The geysers are astounding. You look across the barren landscape and see a big hole in the ground, and within minutes, huge flumes of water shoot up out of them like an upside down Niagara Falls. There are bubbling mud pots and thermally-heated waters that you can soak in. What’s amazing is that this geothermal energy powers a good portion of their electricity and provides heat and hot water for most of the capital.
A marvelous manifestation of this natural heat is the Blue Lagoon, a vast natural spa, where you can soak and play in these thermal, mineral-rich waters. It is a magnificent sight and a wonderful experience. The sand under your feet feels like powder, and when you can put it on your skin, it is calming and soothing. It is said to clear up acne and be very therapeutic.
Water adds a dramatic dimension everywhere. The rivers, often fed by glacial melt, are incredible as they cut through the landscape, and many are studded with giant waterfalls.
Also unforgettable were the wild Icelandic horses. You’ll be driving down a desolate road and see a crazy windstorm coming your way. As it approaches, you realize that the sandstorm is being created by a herd of Icelandic horses. If you stop and stand still, they will walk right up to you and give you kisses because they are used to people giving them sugar cubes and apples!
Shopping is also unusual here. I always advise my clients to leave room in the suitcases for souvenirs. The local woolen goods that they sell are unbelievable. The local sheep farms provide some of the best wool there is and at outdoor markets, farms and in shops, you can get super-warm sweaters, jackets, hats, and socks.
Locals are extremely and surprisingly friendly. Several times, my friends and I would be sitting at a table, and a local would sit down and ask where we were from. And then he’d ask if it was okay to invite his family or friends over and we would all break bread together! It did not hurt that the local beer is fantastic. There are also some amazing museums, cafes and a great marina where you can watch the fisherman or go out fishing yourself.
The most amazing thing is that just a five-hour, nonstop flight from New York, you can plunk down in an alien, yet friendly world that offers experiences you can’t find anywhere else on earth.