02 March 2010
Eternal Darkness In Icelandic Perfection
We touchdown at 5pm and it’s pitch black outside. The uber-modern airport terminal feels more like a chic hotel or art gallery than somewhere you’d board a plane, though I’m probably just overly used to the 1970’s “flair” of most US airports. We grab our bags, sign the car rental paperwork and leave Mom with our luggage while Dad and I make our way to the vehicle itself. While seems calm from the inside, the large glass door slides open to reveal monsoon-like wind and rain that makes me feel like I’m on a sea troller in the North Atlantic. The only thing missing is a giant wave to sink my ship. Welcome to Iceland.
After checking in to the charming Hotel Leiffur Erickson located a stone’s throw from the country’s main Lutheran Cathedral (which was designed to resemble an erupting volcano) we hit the streets in search of food. It’s only 7pm but it “feels” like it’s about three in the morning. The streets are empty, stores are closed and there is an odd absence of people. Restaurants, however, are busting at the seams. After eating at several it’s easy to understand why. The food is out of this world.
We go to bed early, though it feels terribly late once again because it’s pitch black outside. We wake up at 9am and it is still pitch black outside. It isn’t until 11:45am that a bit of light begins to creep up over the horizon. By 4pm it is completely dark yet again. It’s difficult to describe this sensation of near constant darkness. It is as if nature is playing a trick on your mind. You “know” it’s mid-afternoon but because it’s pitch black you begin question reality. “Know, this watch has to be wrong,” you tell yourself. “It’s too dark to be 1pm.” The entire experience - which only lasted four days - was an amazing lesson in how weather - and more specifically light - effects our lives. My Dad was near breakdown by day three, still wildly overwhelmed by it all. “Man, I can’t believe it’s 11 in the morning. It just doesn’t feel right! Goodness, this is strange.”
Of course on the flip side is 24-hour daylight in June and July - a period of nearly six weeks when the sun never sets and instead whizzes along the horizon in a complete 360 every 24 hours. While that is no doubt the “time” to see Iceland, the lack of daylight was still unable to spoil the shear beauty of this somewhat mystical land. From gushing waterfalls to erupting geysers, mysterious geothermal hot springs to massive indoor greenhouses, otherworldly glaciers to picturesque countryside, Iceland is perfect. Perfect sites, perfect food, perfect hotel, perfect people. If you look up “perfect” in the Kyle Dictionary you’d see a map of Iceland and a caption that reads “visit in person.” Having been to 68 countries in this wonderful world of ours, I can safely safe that Iceland has reserved itself a place in the top three. Yes, it’s that good.