About My Trip to Iceland
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Date: July/August 1996
Iceland national flag
Duration: 13 days
Purpose: Vacation
Favorite Memory: The weekend in the country, meeting the president, seeing the sun set at 2:00am, and stepping out onto the still-smoldering ashes of the volcano Krafla (near Lake Myvatn)
Favorite Foods: Icelandic lamb and Skyr
I am often asked which of my trips was my favorite, and I would have to say it is this one.  Not only were the circumstances that brought me to Iceland somewhat unique, this was also my first trip overseas.  There is just something about setting foot on a distant land for the very first time that is almost like stepping out onto a new world altogether.  Perhaps it was the five hours of jet lag, or maybe it was the fact that NASA itself thought Iceland to be "other-worldly" enough to have trained astronauts there for walking on the moon.  Whatever the case, when that plane touched down, I remember thinking "I can't believe it!  I'm really here!  I did it!" 

So why did I choose Iceland as my first overseas destination?  During my last two years of college, I was fortunate enough to develop friendships with more than 20 Icelanders thanks to an online MUD game that was based there.  A couple I knew invited me to stay with them should I ever decide to visit Iceland.  Three years later, I finally took them up on it.  

For most of my stay, I slept at the home of Magnus (Maggi) Sigurdsson and Asdis Omarsdottir in Kopuvogur, a suburb of the capital city, Reykjavik.  I spent most of the first week walking all over Reykjavik, which has got to be one of the most colorful cities I have ever seen.  The "real fun" started the following weekend when Maggi and Asdis took me to the country home of Maggi's parents.  It was there that Maggi's father drove me into the interior part of Iceland, beyond the last farm house, and into the Highlands.  It was also there that I enjoyed my favorite meal of the trip--an outdoor feast featuring Icelandic lamb and other traditional Icelandic foods.  Next, I saw the Golden Circle--twice--once in the rain, and then again a couple of days later when it was sunny.  Near the end of the second week, Maggi and I took a day trip to the area around Lake Myvatn in the northern part of Iceland, where we saw lots of birds, several million very annoying little flying insects called "midges", and walked on the ashes of Krafla.  Finally, on the last full day of my trip, with a steady drizzle and a chill factor below freezing, 11 of us went on what has got to be the coldest rafting trip ever--so much so, that it took over 30 minutes of warm water and hot cocoa afterward before my fingers thawed out enough to grasp the zipper on the big orange suit we wore over our clothes!  

My journey to the Land of Fire and Ice lasted just under two weeks.  With the help of my friends--the 20 or so I knew going in, and the additional 10 or so I met while I was there--I was able to visit not only typical tourist destinations such as Reykjavik and the Golden Circle, but also less traveled areas like Myvatn and the Highlands.  I would especially like to thank the following people for their contributions in making what was already a truly unforgettable vacation to this beautiful country even better:

  • Magnus Sigurdsson and Asdis Omarsdottir for sharing their home with me, and for ferrying me all over the country--and then-4-month-old Olof Svala for being so patient while they did it.

  • Einar Indridason for many very entertaining stories, and for taking me to see the Golden Circle.  

  • Maggi's father, Sigurdur H. Magnusson, for the trip to the Highlands and the weekend in the country.  Also, Maggi's mom, Asdis B. Stefansdottir, for always keeping food on the table while we were there.

  • Everyone who joined us for the pizza party, and the VERY COLD rafting trip on the last day!

  • Iceland's then-newly-elected president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and his wife for the unique photo opportunity right there in the airport just as I was leaving.

  • Ann and Alexis Willis for giving me the grand tour of Salem, Massachusetts during my unexpected layover on the way to Iceland.

  • And finally, Fridrik Skulason--without him, there would have been no Nameless MUD, and I would not have met all these wonderful Icelandic friends to begin with.