A GUEST BLOG BY OUR FRIEND CHRIS CAINE AT KRUISINBLOG.COM — ENJOY
I recently spent New Year’s eve in Iceland with my girlfriend, Jillian, and a few of our closest friends. Iceland is a strange place that time of year. The sun rises at 11 am, sets by 3:30 pm and any semblance of reality is lost between the world’s most beautiful photo shoot and the world’s next most beautiful photo shoot.
It was a frozen paradise, with each stretch of ominous darkness, auspicious daylight and beautiful landscape awaited us and laid perfectly tranquil. An arctic Garden of Eden, where snow covered mountains, lava fields and frozen tundra, encompass the landscape of the most photogenic place on Earth.
Our visit to Iceland was short. A brief 4 day stay designed around starting a new tradition. Celebrating New Years in a country we’ve never been to. Though this celebration was intended to be the highlight of our trip, through extensive research and careful planning we knew that adventure lurked around every corner in Iceland. Our first exploration started at 9AM when it was pitch dark out. We all loaded into the 4×4 and hit the road. About 45mins later, we had finally found our destination.
The beginning of the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a very popular destination in Iceland for travelers who want to experience adventure, beauty and amazing landscapes that make for astounding photos. This scenic drive was accompanied by a beautiful, mountainous terrain, a breathtaking sunrise and multiple long stops to take pictures. One of the most famous attractions located within the golden circle was Strokkur and Geysir. This geothermal field was located on the outskirts of the neo-volcanic zone and was home to some of the most impressive natural phenomenon’s in the world. While an earthquake stopped the original Geysir from continuing to erupt, a second geyser known as Strokkur was active and exploded on a regular basis. It was a magnificent site to see and it erupted so often that we were able to capture a ton of great pictures.
After warming up in the onsite gift shop and restaurant, we voyaged on to our next stop, The Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss, which translated means “Golden Falls” is one of Icelands most popular destinations. As you first approach the fall, it looks as though a river is simply running directly into the earth. When able to view from a better vantage point, the waterfall itself is even more breathtaking. Up close you can see what truly makes Gullfoss special. The water pours into a canyon of epic proportions, smashes to the earth and is absorbed into the Hvita River for a peaceful and tranquil journey through Iceland. Most noteworthy, we were able to capture amazing photos that are already the highlight of our photo albums.
Our next stop was one of Iceland’s most famous and popular attractions, The Blue Lagoon. Those who are familiar with The Blue Lagoon already understand the pure wonder and excitement of this place. This geothermal spa is not to be missed.
Located in a lava field, this man made lagoon is fed water by a nearby geothermal power plant. The waters, which range from 99-102 °F (37-39 °C) are rich with silica and sulfur. These minerals are great for the body and are even used to help people suffering from skin disease. Situated throughout are multiple swim up bars offering both beverages and mineral supplements for your face. As a result, we all lathered our faces up with some silica and seaweed and let The Blue Lagoon do its magic. It’s safe to say that the geothermal waters provided one of the most relaxing times of my life. We also captured some amazing photos while at the lagoon. Not only were we able to capture some great memories of our group but the area on which the lagoon is situated is stunning. Leading up to the lagoon itself are lava fields stretching as far as the eye can see. I have never seen anything quite as unique as these fields. Where you would expect a barren wasteland, lush vegetation has actually started to grow. When walking to the lagoon you are actually able to walk between two large pieces of lava rock. Up close you could see the moss start to cover these rocks. It was truly a wonderful day. Being able to experience the famous lagoon and snap some unreal photos made the day that much more special.
The one thing that could have topped those two adventures was celebrating New Years Eve in Reykjavik. The firework display was something I never experienced before. It was the most over the top, remarkable demonstration I have ever seen. Everywhere you turned there was fireworks. We decided to watch the display in front of Reykjavik’s famous church, Hallfrimskirkja. This Lutheran parish church stands as one of the most impressive structures in all of Iceland. It is a marvel to experience in the day time and a dream to see at night. But viewing this church at 12.AM on New Year’s Ever is something you cannot even imagine. The atmosphere, nightlife and fireworks made Iceland’s New Years Eve celebration one for the ages and I would recommend it to anyone interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and trying something new.
Original Post and more photos can be found on That Kruisin Blog