Last year I set off to travel the world – once again. Lucky me, I could visit various places that left me astonished, mesmerized and speechless. (And I don’t want to withhold that there have also been some situations where I was rather irritated; speechless but in a different way.)
Again and again, I was absolutely blown away by our beautiful planet. Of course, there were also a few people highlights; besides meeting new souls along the way, it were the reunions with old friends that created unforgettable memories.
I have family in New Zealand that I have known now for over ten years. A friend in Perth whom I met in Seattle when we discovered that she had been to my hometown in Germany. Wine tasting, hiking and lots of laughter with beautiful souls in Seattle.
And then there were the new places: Australian highlights such as spider hunting in Margrete River, Quokka cuddling near Perth, sunset and sunrise over Sydney’s Opera; Alaska bear spotting; meet and greet with Yale’s bulldog; free sauna in New York’s underground; sunburn in Miami; Orlando alias where dreams come true; Niagra Falls from the better side (= Canadian side!); and our stop-over in Iceland.
And as this started as a travel blog about 2 ½ years ago I want to go back to the roots. Finally, I am able to write about the journey I have been on last year. It took so long because besides it having been a physical journey getting to many different places, it has also been a quite emotional one. Nearly everybody told me how lucky I am and how thankful and happy I should be. Yet, even though it is true: I was lucky, thankful and happy I was also very much in distress. And yes, these two things can go along side by side. Believe me –I live with it! We all do; we all live the full spectrum – not only one end.
So where shall I begin – naturally, at the end.
About seven months after I had left Germany Jana and me arrived in Iceland. At least, that’s what we thought, because looking at out of the cabin window during the final descent it looked a lot like Middle Earth – the place I thought I had left behind about seven weeks ago!
Icelandic nature is incomparable. It is green and brown, white, grey, blue, and yellow and red.
You don’t find green forests, but moss and little things that grow.
The geysers are yellow and blue and shine green at times.
The glaciers are white and then mingle with rocks which turn them grey. But their water is crystal clear and gives the most amazing colors of blue.
And then there are those mountains spitting fire. We went down into a volcano. (Fortunately, an inactive one.) It was an hour hike on a rocky field shaped by the lava which once had covered the ground.
Icelandic nature is truly beautiful. It is rough and yet so fragile. It seems untouched and mystic. Similarly to our day trip to the backcountry of the Denali National Park in Alaska seven weeks before, I once again felt that it me, it is us, humans, who are not natural to this environment. It is us who have to adapt and not nature to our desires and needs. Unlike in urban areas where nature has to make way for development.
I have been to quite a few extraordinary places in the world. However, Iceland to me was so mighty, proud, strong and unpredictable. It truly felt like being a visitor in this scenery. All we could do is stand there and be amazed.
And we were: we went snorkeling between the continental plates in Þingvellir National Park. Yes, snorkeling in this clear blue glacier water of about 1-2 degrees. Getting us all dressed up and covered in layers of clothes took most time of this half-day trip. And you really want to make sure to have used the bathroom before putting on the dry-suit! Because once it is on you won’t get it off for another hour or so. We were lucky. When we started floating the sun came out and made the underwater scenery even more beautiful. Again, no wildlife or green plants. But rock formations and a view of 150 meters deep.
On the Golden Circle tour we visited the waterfall Gullfoss and you get to go really, really close to the water! Good news: I managed not to fall into the water. The geothermally active valley of Haukadalur is home to the most famous of all geysers: Geysir. And yes, this is the one and only and name giver to all geysers. Geysir itself is inactive, but we could watch Strokkur entertaining the crowd of people. During a few photo stops we were primarily occupied with not flying away. It was so windy! Seriously – and I have lived in windy Wellington, so I know what I am talking about.
Another highlight was our adventure Inside the Volcano. It was about 4,000 years ago that Thrihnukagigur last erupted. What’s makes it so unique is the fact that you can actually descend into and stand and walk (or slip) in the magma chamber which normally, after an eruption, is closed by cold, hard lava. We took our chances and went down in a German window cleaning rig…true story! And these colors inside were wonderful. One of our guides even gave us a performance singing in this beautiful acoustic space. Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky with the weather. Thus, the hike there and back again was quite wet and windy. (Again, I know!)
When thinking back to our five days stop-over I also think of all the street art in Reykjavic, the fish and ships down by the harbor and all these little shops with things you don’t actually need, but that you really want to buy.
And I think of my journal entry about what lied ahead. Arriving back in Germany, actually going back to my hometown. After seven months abroad, visiting 3 continents, 5 countries. After many ‘once in a lifetime’-moments and too many expectations that leave no room for the ‘real life’-moments.
Travelling for me has changed. It started as an exciting expedition to see, feel, meet, and taste something new. I still discover new things. But mostly, travelling now teaches me about myself; about my boundaries, my values. That can be eye-opening and beautiful and it can also be eye-opening and painful. Travelling to me is no longer solely about the other, the new. It is more and more about myself. Unfortunately, it takes away the innocent, curious touch. Fortunately though, it gives more depth. And it won’t get boring, because challenges me – a lot.
If you want to see more pictures of Iceland, go to: http://picturingthemoment.wordpress.com