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ICELAND (Part 1)

This is the final boarding call for WOW Air flight 214 to Reykjavik.

As if we weren’t through security about an hour early. Completely forgetting to pay for our wine, we sprinted to the gate and boarded with the plane already full. Choosing any topic of conversation over sleep for the next 5 hours, we landed in Iceland pretty tired but excited. A $36 (2950 ISK) sandwich gave us some much needed energy. (The $36 did include a smoothie and an americano but the price still a bit of a shock, even for an airport juice bar). With 3 hours until sunrise, we had just enough time to make it to our first destination.

Outside was dark and chilly, a few degrees below zero. It was late January - the darkest the coldest time of the year in Iceland. Our hybrid RAV4 was waiting in the lot, covered in snow, studded tires ready for the icy roads. We jumped in, connected the bluetooth and mapped our first drive of the trip. Seljalandsfoss waterfall was 170 kilometers away, a 2-hour drive on Route 1 (also known as the Ring Road). The drive took us through Reykjavík, the capital. I was surprised when, after an hour on a nearly empty highway, we hit traffic going into the city. I always seem to forget that not everyone’s on holiday at our travel destinations... That we are not the only ones that have to work for a living... It was a Friday morning.

Car on the Ring Road (Route 1), part of the Golden Circle, in the Southern Region of Iceland in the winter. Mountains in the background, farmland covered in snow surrounding the road.
Explosure: 1/80 sec, f/6.3, ISO 100

The sky started lighting up as we were pulling off the highway in the Southern Region. We drove up to the site of the waterfall, grabbed our jackets and camera gear and climbed out of the car. As we stared in awe at the landscape, illuminated by the rising sun, all we could think (and one of us finally said it out loud) was are we still on Earth?

It didn't seem real. We've all been to countless other places around the world and this was somehow nothing at all like anything we've ever seen before.

One great thing we discovered early on about Iceland, after trekking around the falls: there may be Danger and Do Not Cross and Proceed At Your Own Risk signs all over the place at certain locations but... nobody there to enforce them. Which, on the one hand, is great - a photographer's dream when in search of unique perspectives. On the other hand, you learn pretty quickly (right around the time it's almost too late) that these signs are often there for a very good reason. Especially in the winter. Be curious but stay cautious and alert!

Continued in Part 2.

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