Nature & Environment Feb 26, 2018

A Born Again Tourist

Guest post by Tory Bilski.

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Call me Islandsvinur. It’s nice to finally have a moniker. Islandsvinur means ‘friend of Iceland’ and it is given to a person who has visited Iceland more than once. Since 2001, I have visited Iceland almost every year with a variable group of female friends. Last summer, I visited twice.

I come to Iceland each year because I love the Icelandic horses and the country ‘speaks’ to me — personally, visually and spiritually. This year my husband, who had never been to Iceland before, met up with me after my week of horse trekking, and I got to experience the country anew, through the eyes of a new Iceland visitor.

A whirlwind of eight, 24 hour segments followed. After several days in Reykjavik, we flew to Akureyri. At Myvatn, I took him to the nature baths, where we floated on our backs and drank beer until it was midnight. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and put our feet in the stony, dark, scalding hot grotto where they filmed several scenes for Game of Thrones. Next we walked gingerly around the bubbling, sulfurous cauldrons of Namalsdalur and didn’t get back to our hotel until 3:00 a.m. Summer in Iceland, I told him, you don’t need much sleep. It’s as if you are an LED light, and the sun recharges your batteries all day and night.

Next we visited the West Fjords which is more off the grid and more of a commitment to get to, but worth the travel. We picnicked on the side of the road overlooking a canyon and rode horses in Heydalur. We spent our last two days in Snaefellsnes hiking up to the edge of the glacier, napped in the spongy mosses along the trail by a rushing river and walked the cliff-side from Hellnar to Arnarstapi and back again.

“This country is like one big national park,” my husband kept repeating, with a look of astonishment on his face. And I finally got to feel again, after fifteen years, the wonder of seeing Iceland as a tourist again – plus a bit of “See? I told you so!” comments for the pride in a country I’ve loved for so long. This year, of course, I will go back. I have not decided where. But I will ride the horses and see something new. I’m not called Islandsvinur for nothing.

Click here for more photos of Iceland!