Nature & Environment Oct 22, 2019

A Truly Special Place

Guest post by Shauna Cook

I was lucky enough to first visit Iceland on a quick 3-night stopover with my partner on our way home from our European honeymoon in June of 2010. Since then, I knew that Iceland was a special place.

Fast forward to the end of October 2013, and I find myself relocating from Alberta to Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Just north of Winnipeg you will find Gimli. Gimli is called “The Heart of New Iceland” and this area has the largest population of Icelandic people outside of Iceland!

I found myself working for a travel agency called Great Canadian Travel. There, I soon became an Iceland Specialist – almost by default – since I had been there once!

I have now been six times. I continue to be an Iceland Specialist sending dozens of passengers to Iceland every year all for various reasons – tracing their family routes, checking off items on their bucket list or simply just because!

Three personal experiences stand out as some of my most memorable times in Iceland.

My first was in July 2015, I was on an expedition cruise that was circumnavigating Iceland. We had started in Reykjavík and were working our way around the island clockwise. Our last stop was the Westman Islands. It had been rainy and dreary almost the entire trip, but when the captain advised that we were pulling into the harbor, we made our way on deck and saw the most beautiful blue sky and bright sun. I instantly had a unique feeling about this place! We went about our day, and I found myself on a cliff at one point, overlooking the entire island, and I was so overwhelmed with emotion that the tears just started flowing. I had never felt so truly connected to a place as I did in that moment. I believe I might have lived here in a past life. I felt welcomed, at home and at peace.

My second and third experiences came on my most recent trip in September 2018. My husband and I were driving around the South Coast, and we were staying in a friend’s summerhouse near Selfoss for a few nights. We had just finished a long day of touring and came back for a much needed relaxing hot tub!  We were in the middle of nowhere in this summerhouse, no one around for miles, but while we sat on the deck waiting for the tub to fill, we could just feel the eyes on us. We certainly did not feel in danger, merely that whoever was watching was only curious! We had learned about the Huldufólk, also known as elves, previously and are certain this is the presence we felt. The air felt electric but calm at the same time!

On our final night in Reykjavík during that September 2018 trip, we had the great pleasure of seeing the Iceland Mens’ National Football team play against Belgium! The match had been announced a few weeks prior to us leaving for Iceland and we KNEW we needed to be there. No surprise that it sold out quickly, but we found ourselves in the top row, of the corner section cheering those boys on with what felt like the entire country! Unfortunately, they did not win, but honestly, it didn’t even matter, that experience is something I will never forget.

I knew all along that Iceland was a special place; every time I leave, I feel like I leave another piece of my heart there. The country takes a hold of you and doesn’t let go.

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