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I am always game for a new experience; new high of travel and my wanderlust is insatiable.I like to explore a place through its unique experiences which can also include the usual checklist items aka touristy stuff, cultural experiences, culinary delights and of course it’s night life.
I am as comfortable sipping cappuccino at a piazza in Rome, nibbling on a sacher torte in Vienna, doing high tea at the iconic Plaza in New York as I am slurping “masala chai (Indian tea with milk, sugar and spices)” in non decrepit tea stalls of India. Leading a consultant's life across the globe has only added fuel to fire and having friends who love to travel with me has given me the confidence to embark on this life-long love affair.
I have travelled to over 30 countries across and world and intend to travel the world...
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InterestsArt+Culture | Food+Wine | Luxury | Active+Adventure | Partying+Nightlife | Offbeat / Local Experiences | Honeymoon / Romantic | Spa+Wellness | Photography |
If there is one word to describe Iceland, I’d say unique. If you'd ask me in two words, I’d say unique and expensive and if you want multiple words – read my blog(s) :).
My friends questioned my judgement when I decided to take a trip to Iceland In February this year. In their defense, I have been whining about the cold, snow, ice, polar vortex etc.hitting NYC this winter and Iceland is not exactly akin to Caribbeans as a winter destination from the Americas. In my defense, this was one of the best years in this decade to see aurora borealis aka northern lights, I found a great deal on Icelandair, the flight was for 5 hours only (same time you would take to fly to LA) and if one has to die of cold, might as well die exploring something new or die trying.
Losing the word count, I'd say Iceland is mystical, magical, unique and expensive. It’s one of the most unique countries I have visited and for more reasons than I can count but let me give it a shot.
For starters, it’s the only country in the world to not have an army, navy or air force; contrast this to the fact that settlement in Iceland started due to Viking explorers. Although I can see why anyone would not want to conquer a country that’s mostly covered in Ice, has a devalued currency and provides the geographical vantage point only if you wanted to conquer Greenland. What's even more mind boggling is the fact that you cannot yet buy a decent cocktail for less than 20 euros even in the aftermath of infamous crash of the Icelandic Krona.
It’s adolescent landscape and geography is probably more pertinent than its geopolitical history; considering it’s one of the youngest landmasses on earth. Despite being young, there is no dearth in character to Iceland as its and home to glaciers, geothermal springs & spas, northern lights, tectonic plates separating Europe & Americas, and volcanoes including Eyjafjallajökull which screwed world’s air traffic in 2010 while surreptitiously not impacting Iceland air traffic over Atlantic (talk about being true to the land).
You can get whales, sharks, horse, even puffins on a platter and a breakfast cooked underground a in a geothermal spring. Add to the fact that you can still see an elf town near Reykjavik and people still believe in trolls and you’ll probably start getting a sense of what I meant above.
Iceland came out of Danish rule in 1944 and still has a strong and visible Scandinavian influence in its culture, cuisine, music, and design aesthetics. Maybe that explains the muted elegance in the buildings, the thriving music scene and why you can hear people brag about design award winning Vodka bottles.
This trip materialized many nouveau experiences for us whether it was witnessing the miracle of northern lights, watching the Geysir gargle and spit out water in the sky or soaking in the geothermal baths at blue lagoon. The boy and I also risked a first road trip alone relying on GPS, risking the snow or ice on the roads and hoping that we won't be pulling each other's hair if the trip turned sour. Neither of these proved to be a glitch as Icelandic terrain has more beauty than your eyes can absorb, the roads were surprisingly snow free and navigable and we had enough to talk and chew each other’s brains whenever I was not a slave to my carcolepsy (you can read my prior blogs :P).
I also kind of established some sort of record for trying out as many types of new meat as the number of days I was in Iceland; whether it was whale, shark, puffins or horse (I know I will be judged on these so go right ahead!).
A distinct memory of feeling extremely lucky throughout this trip (barring the first day when we were bickering but I’ll save that for later posts) still lingers as I write this blog. It almost felt like this was long time coming and yet there could not have been a better timing or reason for this trip. I had been meaning to see northern lights since my semester in Europe (2007) and made almost a non-existent effort when we returned back from Rovaniemi in one day. After reading that it’s one of the best years in this decade to go see northern lights, I had explored every possible option (US, Greenland, Canada, Scandinavia, Iceland) during the Christmas break but it was not meant to be. We ended up in Bahamas so am not complaining but one fine day I see this lovely email from Icelandair having a winter deal to go see northern lights. It took some cajoling my partner in crime, renouncing my valentine’s day presents and some shopping but soon it was a go. I did dread the consequences if we were not able to see the northern lights which is always flaky but I set the expectations low, one thing as a consultant you learn is to always under promise and over deliver. Turns out that not only were we lucky to see it the first day of our trip, it was one of the more generous displays. To top it off, Reykjavík (capital city) was actually warmer that New York, the entire time we were in Iceland; poetic justice I say.....
The trip coincided with the Fun & Food festival in Iceland where they invite celebrity chefs from across the the world to create a chef’s menu across most fancy restaurants in Reykjavík culminating into a battle of chefs which is open to public. It’s a different story that the only restaurant where we were able to get reservations had an American celebrity chef and we graciously declined to pay more for American food after having to fly mid-way across the pond. However, that did not deter me from going to watch the battle of the chefs and I had no shame in breaking and repeating lines for the free delicacies being served.
The bar at our hotel Marina (Slippin Bar) turned out to be one of the best bars in town & I can only thank my lucky stars and helpful friends who tipped me off to book the only slot available for the water massage at Blue Lagoon. Most importantly, we functioned well as a team while driving, while exploring and trying out new experiences and I thanked the powers that may be to have made it happen!
The itinerary included flying into Reykjavík and taking day trips from there. We just rented a car and drove through the golden circle and towards the south shore on subsequent days exploring Iceland. I will elaborate on my Icelandic adventures in subsequent blogposts but it’s time for that shot of Brennivín (signature Icelandic Schnapps) to celebrate an amazing trip. skál!