It’s 4:30 am and I cannot sleep. I am sat here in my kitchen with a cup of coffee, some vanilla wafers to hold me off until brunch, and Khalid playing in the background. This morning I am reminiscing on my trip to Iceland, thinking about how such a place can exist and reflecting on my experience. A city as large as Phoenix is a weird thing to come back to after being on the road for five days. Something within me is different and I can feel it. Iceland changed the way I think about traveling.
“Send me your location”
Location has always been everything to me. It’s no secret that I’m a city girl. I get such a high from exploring new and old cities, learning about the culture, wandering around art galleries, trying the best restaurants, and hearing the sound of my boot heels clack on the pavement of some posh street. Iceland was much different.
Before I set off on my journey I was super nervous because I had never booked a trip like this for myself before. While I could say at the time that I appreciated nature and hiking, I had no idea how much I didn’t appreciate those things until I came face-to-face with them for five straight days. My real appreciation for nature was actually quite little and something I probably felt I needed to say because I’m from Arizona. Iceland changed all of that.
“Young dumb & broke”
Iceland was one of the most special places I have ever gotten the privilege to see. I have never seen such beauty for miles on end. I felt young but alive, like I didn’t need anything to survive. It was just me, my camera, and a van. Our days consisted of money-saving gas station food and lots of shouting, “pull over pull over!” when we saw something breathtakingly amazing.
The word ‘breathtaking’ will never hold the same meaning for me. I truly experienced what it means to have your breath taken away; to be almost on the verge of tears. To have your eyes so fixed on something that it was hard to put one foot in front of the other. I am not convinced that you will never know the meaning of ‘breathtaking’ until you visit Iceland.
I remember thinking what a privilege it was to be driving through Iceland seeing so much beauty; how lucky we are to be born in America where we have freedom and choices and options. My thoughts were running deep, thinking about how right now someone is trying to find their next meal, and here I am in the presence of so much beauty. I told myself “I am so eternally grateful for this experience and I’m not going to take it for granted.” And that’s exactly what I did.
Every day we lived off very little, as if I was a teenager again with no money and no cares in the world. I filled up my water bottle in streams we found, sometimes didn’t eat breakfast, and chased rainbows almost every day. Every turn in the road was a new adventure, a new sound, and a new sight. At times I felt like I was on another planet, and after another bend in the road, I felt as if I was in Sedona, Arizona, only a few hours from my home.
I was dirty, smelly, and tired, but every next stop was worth the journey we took to get there. The way of life in Iceland is one to be mimicked. There’s a gratefulness in the people and an appreciation for nature that’s beyond anything I have personally experienced. It seeped into me like little veins of water diverging away from a waterfall.
“She’s over the city”
Am I over the city? Not entirely. But this is the next Khalid song that’s playing, and it’s quite fitting. Yesterday, I drove to the store to grab a new hairbrush because I had left mine at the Blue Lagoon. It was the first time I had driven in the city since I got back. Besides adjusting to not driving manual anymore, I couldn’t stop replacing my views with something else. I wanted everything to be as it was a day ago: mountains for miles, a single compact road, waterfalls, and lots of sheep. Instead, I was greeted with hundreds of people, cars, buildings on top of buildings, dogs on leashes, and smog. Something in me felt a little anxious and even a little angry.
It’s Sunday today, and I’ve been home for about 35 hours now. I still cannot comprehend how different it is where I am sitting as I am typing this, and how absolutely grateful I am to have gotten to experience Iceland. Iceland truly took a city girl and changed the way she travels. I want to see mountains and glaciers again. I want to be out in nature with nothing at all and live off the land. How does one live after experiencing something like that? I assume it won’t be easy.
For now, I will live through photos and memories, and this blog. I have a new appreciation for nature Instagrammers who shoot in groups and adventure all day long. What a freaking life!! As for the future, I would love to switch gears as often as I can and travel with other content creators, hiking and exploring. As for city travel? I still love architecture and people. I always will. It was my first love.
Iceland is something you must see in your lifetime. See it over the Eiffel Tower, see it over the the Berlin Wall, see it over the Golden Gate Bridge. Those are just photographs. Iceland slips into your soul like your silk eye mask on a jet plane; easy, soft, fixed. Iceland becomes a part of you forever.