Wide World Blog

Wide World Blog: Vatnajökul, ICELAND

Blog by S. Adam Granato

My life has begun to mimic that game I used to play as a kid where I would spin a globe and put my finger down somewhere randomly to see where I was going to (hypothetically) end up.  Well this time, the globe landed on Iceland.  Iceland.  Go figure.  So here I am, with my mother, in the frigid Icelandic wind, struggling with a years worth of luggage (This is just a week long stop on the trans-global relocation project that is my life.), just a short jaunt south of the arctic circle…and I’m thinking to myself: I have got to stop playing that game.

But then of course, it’s 3 AM my time and perhaps in the morning things will look a little…less bleak.

They do.

Everyone knows the funny little irony that is Iceland and Greenland.  You know, how Iceland is really green, and Greenland is really covered in ice. Well, I can’t speak for Greenland, but Iceland is not green.  Iceland is blue, red, brown, black, grey, gold, white and green.  Really green.  Like, how-does-a-country-with-no-trees-or-agriculture-to-speak-of-get-so-green green.  So, after a little shuteye, my mom and I set out to discover what makes Iceland so colorful.


It isn’t a trip to Iceland without a dip in the Blue Lagoon.   So without delay, mom and I hopped in our little rental car (the company ominously named: SAD cars) and bee-lined it for the geo-thermal spa famed for its constant 100 degree temperature and aquamarine blue color.

We couldn’t have planned our late start better, arriving just as all the tourist buses were pulling away.  Not to mention that we got there just in time to book the last two in-water massage and salt scrub appointments.  If you have never experienced an in-water massage…do.


As you might expect from a place with geo-thermal spas, there is quite a bit of volcanic activity in Iceland.  Or maybe the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajokull gave it away.  However you figured it out, the rumors are true.  And you can’t really go anywhere in Iceland with out accidentally wandering into a volcano.

Exhibit A:

Make sure to note the location of the “you are here” black dot.  Right there nuzzled in the heart of the “Virk megineldstö.”   Translation: Active Central Volcano.  Don’t worry though…I was traveling with my mother, who laughs in the face of volcanoes.


You would be surprised by how beautiful these colors can be when they take on the form of endless blacksand mud flats, plunging brown crevasses that literally penetrate the earth’s crust (this is where the European and American continental plates are ripping apart), and miles and miles of rolling landscapes covered in a grey-green moss that make the scenery look as though it is perpetually stuck in the hour of sunlight just before dusk.


Yeah, you read that right: Gold.  The golden circle of Iceland is a loop drive that includes some pretty amazing waterfalls, the original geysir (called “Geysir”), and the site of the first Icelandic viking parliament at Fingvellir.  We aren’t ones to brag, but with our SAD little car, we managed to make every stop and then some for a fraction of the price of the multiple daytours leaving from Reykjavik.

And we made it with only one or two wrong turns.


There is so much to do and see in Iceland that despite its small size, in one week, we only managed to cover the south and southwest of the country.  Fortunately, however, we managed to make it as far East as Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón, both part of Europe’s largest glacier: Vatnajökul. Certainly the highlight of our trip…I think the pictures speak for themselves (and trust me…this IS me narrowing it down).



Green is the color of nature…and I don’t think you could pick a better place to go searching for a little natural wonder (and at times supernatural landscapes) than this incredible island.

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