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!"
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
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:
Omarsdottir for sharing their home with
me, and for ferrying me all over the country--and
Svala for being so patient while they
for many very entertaining stories, and
for taking me to see the Golden Circle.
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.
who joined us for the pizza party, and the
VERY COLD rafting trip on the last day!
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.
Alexis Willis for giving me the grand tour
of Salem, Massachusetts during my unexpected
layover on the way to Iceland.
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.