Sally and I are used to jetting off to warmer southern climes, so when we were invited to experience the wonders of Iceland, my response was a little lacklustre - I am a sun-loving Aussie girl after all.
On arrival to Keflavik Airport I still had my doubts. I had left a glorious sunny day in London and here I found myself in a landscape devoid of a single blade of grass or tree, and seemingly lacking of colour.
But my hosts soon had me feeling and looking three years younger after a stop at the regenerative Blue Lagoon (I diligently scrubbed myself with the white sulphuric mud which has been proven to reverse the signs of ageing), and by the time I had checked in to my lovely art deco suite at the Hotel Borg things had certainly started to look up…
The following morning we ventured off to explore Iceland’s harsh interior of fire and ice and after just a few hours of driving my perception of the landscape had shifted entirely. Colours suddenly came alive, I started to appreciate how vividly the green moss contrasted against the black volcanic rocks and even started to enjoy the ferocity and changeability of the weather – one minute blazing sunshine, and the next a snow blizzard that could pick you up off your feet.
We visited the towering waterfalls of Gullfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, stood between two tectonic plates and sat just out of reach of the thundering Atlantic surf on the deserted black beach at Reynifjall.
I spent a very memorable birthday super-jeeping through a Mordor-esque monochrome valley of fresh black ash and white snow before trekking up the side of the now world-famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull.
Set in rural isolation, Hotel Ranga was the perfect place to watch out for the Northern Lights from the comfort of our outdoor jacuzzi, and even though we missed out on Bear Grylls and Jake Gyllenhaal by just a day (they had been staying there whilst filming Man vs Wild) we were somehow not left feeling disappointed. In Reykjavik itself, the sleek Hotel 101 - complete with black and white décor designed to mimic the stunning scenery of the interior
- provided the ideal backdrop from which to explore the tiny laidback city which is jam-packed full of surprises, from fashionable boutiques and cosy cafes to seriously cool bars and nightclubs - we were even lucky enough to catch a secret DJ set by Iceland’s music royalty, Gus Gus.
I realised by the end of the week that I had made a lot of incorrect assumptions about Iceland but perhaps the biggest of all was with regards to the country’s culinary offerings. I had arrived thinking that this Arctic land would provide me with nothing more than the purest of glacier water, rye bread and a healthy top up of Omega 3, but how wrong I had been…from the 5 course ‘Chef’s Surprise’ at The Fish Company (Icelandic lamb is the best I have ever tasted) right through to the Asian fusion tasting menu at Fishmarket, I can honestly say that I have never tasted such incredible fare.
Turns out the only thing I won’t be going back for a second time is the customary cod liver oil shot in the morning, I don’t care how good it is for you…