Due to a series of unlikely events, I found myself as a tour guide for Icelandic trips. I have been to Iceland more than a dozen times, and led ten trips between 2010 and 2016. From the beginning, Iceland held a special appeal to me. Believe it or not, the starkness of the landscape and the lack of sophistication reminded me of my childhood on the plains of North Dakota.
Even the lilt of the Icelandic people as they spoke English reminded me of the old Norwegians in the prairie churches where my father was the preacher.
The Icelandic faces looked Norwegian to me and even the clothing seemed familiar. Everything about Iceland was an allure to me and it felt like going home when I was there. I wanted to share that feeling with my family, my friends, and eventually with friends of friends. Unfortunately, over the dozen years that I explored Iceland, hundreds of thousands of other people also felt the draw. Iceland became inundated with tourists even though their infrastructure could not support the influx. It became painful to watch the changes as Iceland succumbed to modernization and commercialization. The Icelandic people called for a limit to tourism expansion, as they could see also that the fundamental uniqueness of the country was being threatened. They are implementing a more thoughtful approach to the future. Before that, however, I couldn’t get enough of the looming mountains, the glaciers, the thundering waterfalls, the tiny wildflowers, the hot springs and geysers, the geology, the windy vistas, the history, the puffins, the black sand beaches, the volcanoes, the food, and most of all, the people.
Although I am not into cities much, Reykjavik is an exciting town. It is artsy and modern as well as quaint and rustic.
Iceland is a fantastic country! I will return again once all the hoopla has died down.
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