The ever so beautiful country of Iceland grabbed my attention ever since I was in 6th grade Geography class.
I remember my first encounter with it vividly for two reasons:
- It was too far up in the map for me to even consider the slight possibility that my then geography teacher Monsiour Dupuy would put it in our exam paper (and let me tell you, what a surprise when he did).
- I spent hours utterly discombobulated and pondering over how one would want to live in what sounded like a cold, dark, mystically uninhabited full of fairies and elves, glacier-ridden land.
Little did I know then, that that perplexed 12-year old me would eventually call Iceland her home and grow up to be a globetrotter by heart and soul, that is, the person I am today.
Fast-forward 13 years and here I am, sitting on my black little wooden desk overlooking Laugavegur, Reykjavik’s main street, scrupulously ornamented with Christmas lights, smells and sights.
A few days ago, whilst I was on my way back from work, I realized that there was a coffee shop right under my apartment building, Now how could I have possibly missed that after living here for over 2 years. I looked around and to my surprise; they had also put up all the Christmas decorations down the whole street, the street that I walk on every single day. This occurrence led me to think on how many things I’m actually missing out on without even realizing it: We’re so encompassed in our daily lifestyle and routine. Always rushing to work, to a meeting; that we never really get the chance to take a breath, slow things down and actually open our eyes to see the beauties that lie ahead.
The following day, I decided to make the most out of the available light (since there is only a few hours of complete daylight during winter months over here) and go on a quick drive for a bit of new scenery and fresh air– something I hadn’t done in what seemed to be an eternity. I grabbed my camera and 50mm /1.8 and 11-16mm /2.8 lens and before I knew it I was already in the car on my way out of Reykjavik.
I set off on route 1, the infamous highway that connects Iceland’s major cities and towns, and headed South in hope to reach some undiscovered new territories. A little under an hour later, I reached one of the F roads (also known as mountain roads) that took me straight to a little orange Red-Cross emergency hut surrounded by astonishingly beautiful volcanic moss and picturesque mountains.
After some brief short photo stops including what seemed to be an endless field of dead fish drying at natures’ mercy (a delicacy here in Iceland) , it was time to head back since daylight was slowly fading away and I was yet to explore Reykjavik and its’ Christmas festivities.
By 3pm I was already making my way up to Hallgrimskirkja – Reykjavik’s tallest building and iconic church offering a birds eye view over the city and if you get there in time, a sunset like no other!
The next couple of hours were spent sipping on some hot chocolate whilst strolling around and admiring the city’s impressive and one of a kind Christmassy decorated streets, cafes, restaurants and windows. A walk next to Reykjavik’s duck pond was also a necessity, with all the streetlights creating a magical reflection in its waters.
Although there is no snow at the moment of writing this article, Iceland’s unique holiday spirit, warmth and hospitality sure do make up for it!
Donna Tzaneva is a twenty-something year old globetrotter that was born in Bulgaria, grew up in Australia and now resides in Iceland. After finishing her BSc in Equine Studies, a severe horse-back riding injury made her take a step back from that career and take up photography. She hasn’t stopped ever since.
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