By Nancy Clarke, 10-time traveler from Ocean Grove, NJ
I’ve always wanted to travel to Iceland. I know several people from the country, and have friends who have visited, so I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things. I was intrigued by the welcoming people, unique geography, and small population—plus, I thought it would just be a fun place to go.
I asked my sister, Isabel, if she’d like to come with me. We’ve traveled together before—sometimes with her husband, and sometimes with other family members (including a family “reunion” of sorts on our first O.A.T. trip), but we decided to do this trip on our own. We get along really well, and share similar interests, which makes our travels together very rewarding. For example, Isabel is interested in historical manuscripts. During our visit to Reykjavik, she was able to explore some of the wonderful manuscripts on display, and although it’s not something I go out of my way to find, I found the history interesting as well. And I was able to share my love of horses when we visited the horse farm on the way to Akureyi, an included part of the trip.
I had so many “first” experiences in Iceland. I’d never been whale-watching, but the included tour during our trip to Husavik was one of the reasons I was interested in this particular adventure. It was amazing to see a whale riding alongside our boat for about an hour. Our Trip Experience Leader explained that it was a minke whale, known for its friendliness. As we all enjoyed the view, the whale rolled onto its back and showed us its stomach! Definitely something special.
And I enjoy horseback riding, so one morning, while the rest of the group visited the Blue Lagoon, my Trip Experience Leader arranged for me to visit a stable, where I was able to ride and experience the “tolt,” a special gait unique to Icelandic horses.
And although I’m not a big hiker, I did plenty of hiking in Iceland. During our visit to Stykkisholmur, we went to Helgafell, a sacred hill about 250 feet high. Legend has it that if you’re able to climb to the top of the mountain in silence, and make a wish when you reach the top, your wish will be granted. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I was able to make it to the top without making a sound!
This trip to Iceland was beyond my expectations. Our fellow group members were so interesting and different. That’s another thing I love about travel: You meet so many different people. Everyone brings their own life experiences, and with these experiences comes knowledge. Some people love farming, or geology, or birds. And we’re able to share these interests to learn from one another. There was even another pair of sisters traveling in our group of 15!
And in the same way, that’s what makes these trips with my sister so special. We don’t live near one another, so these travels let us talk about our lives and what’s happened since we were last together. We’re able to share being sisters and friends, and the experiences we encounter on the trip. And that’s what’s most important.
Perhaps you and a loved one will bond over the natural beauty and unique culture of Iceland when you join O.A.T. for Untamed Iceland.