Welcome to Iceland

This wonderful country of Iceland never lived up to its name more than this February. Seven members of the Trefoil Guild and I headed north to experience everything it had to offer. We headed to London Heathrow airport with many layers of clothing, crampons for our shoes, and the obligatory COVID tests in hand. We waited to board a flight to Keflavik airport…. Except the Icelandic weather finally won out, and we couldn’t depart as planned. Still, as the Guide law says, “A Guide smiles and sings under all circumstances”, and soon the Uno cards came out to pass the time!

24 hours later, we were in the Blue Lagoon, all memories of the travel issues long forgotten. We landed into the snow and ice, which gave the country its name, the ground below us a sea of white with the odd lava flow as well! Even covered in the white stuff, you can see why this country is unique and fascinating when people live alongside a living geography textbook. As we floated in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon and enjoyed its healing benefits, taking in the surrounding mountains covered in snow and the breathtaking sunset which happened all around us. The raspberry wine to enjoy in the water was an equally welcome treat!

Back in our many layers, we headed to our hotel with its stunning view across Faxaflói bay. Watching Reykjavik light up as we enjoyed some of the most delicious mushroom soup I’ve had in a long while. We set off into the Icelandic countryside the following day, heading for þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park. Þingvellir is the home of the oldest parliament in the world, the Althing. As it glistened in the snow below us, it was hard to imagine a more tranquil place to have a political debate. Here you can really see the movement of the tectonic plates, as the deep crack shows where the American and European plates are moving away from each other. As any Trefoil Guild member will tell you, they always have a friend in a different continent – but here, that friend was only 10 feet away!

Icelandic Horse

Sadly the weather was setting in again and limiting our travels, so a new plan was needed. Our guide Friðrik seemed to embody another of the Guide laws, “A Guide is a friend to all animals”. He arranged for us to visit a farm, home of the unique Icelandic horse. We were able to get up close with these gorgeous creatures, which are hardy enough to still be outside in the harsh weather and didn’t seem concerned at all. For us humans, coffee and cake indoors were very much welcome. After we’d said goodbye to the horses, we set back off for Reykjavik and explored a bit more of this beautiful city. We finished up in Hallgrimskirkja, the largest church in Iceland. This is a stunning modern building, built to represent the lava fields around Iceland and a moment of calm in this busy city.

Later that evening, we managed to find even more layers to put on and set out on the hunt for the elusive Northern Lights. The skies across Reykjavik were calm and clear, and all indicators showed an excellent opportunity to see the lights. So we kept watch and waited… yet the Lights kept themselves hidden from us despite some positive indications. Still, we were lucky to see some changes in the sky. Many of our photos show the beautiful green haze, which usually proceeds the lights appearing.

Trefoil Iceland Lunch

The next day we got to explore more of Reykjavik itself, but this time with a twist. The group had booked themselves onto a Food Walking tour, which took them around the city following the best restaurants and dishes they had to offer. Now, you may not think of Reykjavik as a foody hot spot, but there were plenty of unique dishes to enjoy – and not a bit of fermented shark in sight! Instead, mass pans of fish, delicate lamb dishes and rye bread ice cream kept everyone going. My personal favourite, the Icelandic hot dog from the stand where Bill Clinton apparently ate. It was lovely to see this as less of a tourist attraction but more where the locals might get their lunch on their break from the surrounding offices.

After we tried everything Reykjavik had to offer, some of us headed to the Perlan, which was just an observation point when I first came to Reykjavik. It had recently been transformed into a multi-media experience, where you can learn about the geography and nature of Iceland. One of the highlights was the Ice Tunnel, where you can learn about the different layers of ice and what we can do to stop these from being destroyed. Those who did make it to the Perlan can also brag that we saw the Northern Lights – albeit from the fascinating show in their planetarium. I had a rough idea of what caused the lights, but it gave so much more detail and the myths and legends surrounding them, so it was well worth the visit.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and the next day we headed back to Keflavik airport and then home to the UK. Our visit to Iceland was short but sweet and left us wanting more – especially now that restrictions to enter the country have eased. Iceland is an ever-changing country – not just its actual landscape, but also all of the fantastic excursions and activities you can try there. No two visits are ever the same.

One of the nicest things about this trip was it being the first Venture Abroad group to travel since the pandemic began in 2020. While this was exciting in itself, it was also lovely to see that one thing hadn’t changed, which was the spirit of guiding and friendship found amongst the group. New members were accepted, and new friendships formed – I know that the group will meet up this summer. After all, “A Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every other Guide.” So while the world changes around us, some things can stay the same – and the spirit of Guiding shown by our group is most definitely one of them.