About a week ago we joined Dofri from Iceland Expeditions on his tour around Snæfellsnes, in the Western part of Iceland. Being from the Western part of Europe’s mainland (Dutchies, represent), I was curious to see how much I would actually have in common with west Iceland. Coming from a crowded country like the Netherlands, I’m used to driving into a different city every five minutes. I’m used to flat land, agriculture, and in between, tulips. Coming from a land of cows and windmills, Iceland is a land with a lot of firsts for me. Guess it’s just a matter of time for me to try my first sheep head (steering away from eating the eyeballs for now, though) and pickled ram’s testicles.
I think we can safely say that Iceland is quite a mystical country filled with surprises. And I also think it’s safe to say that the West of Europe is nothing like the west of Iceland. Here are some of the ‘firsts’ I experienced during my tour of Snæfellsnes.
My First Geothermal Pool
I am well acquainted with a regular jacuzzi. Drenching your skin and sinking in relaxation. Warm water coating your body like a down jacket. I am growing more and more familiar with the concept of geothermal natural pools, after encountering a few along the way. What’s more unwinding than to not only sit in a natural hot tub, but also with Icelandic’s insane scenery all around you. I quickly learned to always bring my swimwear when hitting the road in Iceland, as these bad boys are everywhere to be found, one spot even more striking than the other; and if not, Iceland’s geothermal public swimming pools are more than an adequate substitute.
For now, we had to make do with a quick pat on the water, greatly regretting being so unprepared. The geothermal pools are often at the perfect temperature, providing a comfortable chill-out between sightseeing spots. It might have actually been a good thing I didn’t bring proper attire as I would have probably stayed in for hours on end and would have to be dragged out by force.
My First Walk Behind a Waterfall
While walking up to a waterfall in Snæfellsnes we spotted a herd of sheep having their daily chill behind the stream of pouring force. They didn’t seem to care much about our presence, but out of courtesy they were on their way (at least, I like to think it had nothing to do with Dofri screaming his lungs out), quickly waddling away, their hoofs plucking through the jelly-like mud, imprints soon to be masked by our own. Closer to the waterfall, we were met with a haze of water dampening our faces. The Netherlands is not exactly known for its waterfalls, but I’ve seen them before on holidays. Never had I walked behind one, though. I guess it’s comparable to standing out of the shower’s stream, yet in this case you’re happy you’re standing behind instead of underneath. Oh, and it’s a tad more impressive than standing in the shower.
My First Fish Soup
Fish soup is quite a common dish in Iceland and can be eaten in nearly every restaurant as one of the main picks. Just soup? Not quite the fill up though, right? Wrong. I promise, you’ll feel so stuffed, as the soup is a rich mix of squashed veggies and fish, with larges chunks of haddock and a fair amount of cream. Nomnomnom (shouldn’t have been typing this during lunch time, have to go back to Snæfellsnes now).
My First Source of Sparkling Water
I’m familiar with drinking still water straight from the source as there are many natural springs to be found in Belgium and France. Snæfellsnes, however, took my spring water experience to the next level. ‘Just still water? We can do better than that, Eve.’ Dofri provided us all with cups we could dip in a bubbling pool of water near a waterfall, surrounded by a rocky lava field. I’m not the greatest fan of sparkling water yet something about drinking it straight from the source makes you appreciate it more.
My First Time Drinking Iron
On our way back, we passed by a tap located on an empty field. The water coming from this tap was said to be extremely healthy and beneficial water. Now here’s why: it was incredibly rich in iron. Drinking liquid metal is about as hardcore as it gets, but here’s the thing. If you have ever had a paper cut and you were desperately trying to save your life by putting your finger in your mouth; then imagine a full cup of that taste. Yep, I know, not quite the refreshing beverage you might be used to. Not quite your can of coke or bottle of beer. I am fairly sure none of us finished our cups, which I like to think of as a confirmation of our mental sanity – either that or we’re obviously not real Vikings.