Why Iceland? What are you gonna do there?- These are questions acquaintances and even friends asked me when I told them I was going to Iceland. The misconception that Black people don’t travel is probably one of the reasons I was being asked this question. My answer was “well I’ve never been before”.
As we are approaching summer, Iceland experiences the midnight sun. In the summer, the sun barely sets, summer nights are bright as the sun sets at midnight and rises at 3 am. for some, this can be a nuisance to a good night sleep but I enjoyed being able to take a nice walk past midnight.
Exploring Iceland was magical to say the least. some parts look like the Midwest, some look like extraterrestrial landscape. In the span of an 8 hours drive, I visited Volcanos, Hot Springs, Geysers and waterfalls.
7. Familiar faces in unfamiliar places
I set out to explore Iceland on my own. My friend M. Whom I traveled to Ivory coast with just 4 months prior was in Iceland on her way to Portugal and my friends J. was also there for a couple of days on his way to Denmark.
I’m perfectly comfortable traveling solo but having friends that you can share travel stories and adventures for years to come is priceless.
If you plan on venturing outside of Reykjavik wether by private car or tour bus, great company is a must.
6. Icelandic Peeps
Our second day my friend M. said “it’s weird, people here are cold when you first meet them but after a couple of minutes you realize they are warm and friendly.” it then hit me that Icelanders are similar to their environment, with 45 degree weather and rough lava rocks but deep down all warm inside because it’s home to some of the world’s most active volcanoes.
The easiest way to get around in the center of the city is by foot or public buses. Sometimes a taxi is the best way to get to your destination. Every cab driver instantly becomes a tour guide.
5. Food, Food, Food
Apparently, Icelandic diet has not changed much since the Viking ages; a combinations of lamb, potatoes and sea food is sure to start a gastronomic party in your palette. To talk about the food in one paragraph wouldn’t do it justice so be on the look out for a separate blog post.
4. Bridge Between 2 continents
About a 15 minute drive from the famous Blue Lagoon, is a bridge between 2 continents. It is a steel bridge in the middle of nowhere, it connects the rift separating the North American and Eurasian continental plates.
It’s nothing too impressive or aesthetically pleasing but to know that my friend M. was standing in Europe when she took a picture of me standing in North America is just exciting and mind boggling.
3. Geothermal Pool
Public bathing plays a big role in Icelandic culture. People of all ages come to geothermal pools that are naturally heated. Wether it is to relax after a long work day or to catch up with friends. The outdoor pool culture is also very welcoming of foreigners. My friend J. and I spent half a day relaxing at the pool.
3 things I liked about the pool we went to
People take hygiene seriously, everyone has to take a bath before getting in the pool, and if you think you can sneak in, there’s even a “hygiene police” in each locker room to make sure you are following the rules.
Im a sucker for oversized lockers. There’s nothing more weird than just leaving a 4 foot prosthetic leg, half way covered on the floor. it is sure the scare some kids.
3. People watching
2. The blue lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa, it’s located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The blue Lagoon is one of the most popular places in Iceland. They get about 80% of all tourists that come to Iceland. Because of it’s popularity it is best to pre-book before visiting. I got the premium package which gets you , a bath robe, slippers, their famous face Silica & Algae mud mask and a drink at the bar.
As my friend M. and I entered the facility, I realized people were being guided to a set of stairs that lead to the lockers. The staff escorted us to a fully accessible staff bathroom just steps away from the lagoon. Unfortunately the locker weren’t large enough to store my prosthetic leg but having a semi private bathroom made the situation perfect. The lagoon is all we hoped fro and more. We spent the day relaxing and meeting new people. Is it overrated? a tad bit. Should you go if you visit Iceland? Definitely.
1. Visiting Össur
One of the highlights of my trip in Iceland was visiting one of the top prosthetic makers in the world. Ossur is a company that “develops, manufactures and sells non-invasive orthopedics equipments”
After I posted on Instagram that I was interested in visiting they reached out to me offering a tour of the Head Quarter.
When I arrived, I was warmly greeted by two employees, a 1 hours tour made me grateful that there are people dedicated to the advancement of prosthetics. We have come a long way from wooden legs to computerized one but for someone like me who is missing part of her pelvic bone, science might have a long way to go. There are different kinds of leg amputees: Below the knee (BK), Above the Knee (AK), hip disarticulation and Hemipelvectomy (the most extreme case, which also happens to be the one I have.) Hemipelvectomies only account for 1% of amputees, with such a small demographic, very little resource is spent on developing prosthetics for Hemis.
There are 330,000 people in Iceland, 300 are amputees and only 1 has hemipelvectomy-, Ossur’s latest knee seems promising for someone like me. Who knows ,maybe that’s what I need to get rid of one of my crutches, only time will tell.