Explore stunning Iceland and experience the beautiful country's traditions
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To the artist, the landscape constitutes the primary source of melancholy. It's the symbol of death and the ruthless passing of time, but also a symbol of life - because landscapes are eternal , they will always outlive the ones who admires it.
The landscape of Nordic Iceland is not only a source of inspiration for many artists, but also a haven for those in need of getting in touch with the invigorating power of Mother Earth. The youngest area of the European continent is situated at the meeting point of the Arctic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. I visited the land of ice in the winter, seeking inspiration for one of my films.
After landing at the airport in Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland - and the northernmost capital in the whole world - I felt as if I were in a fairytale. Right from the start, I could see that the Icelandic people adored elves.They were everywhere - mascots, books, tshirts and figurines, all depicting elves. About 80% of Iceland's population believes in the so-called hidden people, or elves (allegedly). The belief in elves is linked to the Christian faith. Legend has it that the first woman, Eve, was washing her children when God visited her. Embarrassed, she hid her unwashed children behind her back and since then, the so-called hidden people or elves have walked the Earth.
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People believe that it's the angry elves that bring avalanches to Iceland - for the rock avalanche that fell onto the city of Bolungravik, the residents blamed no one else, but the Elves.The strong belief in supernatural beings is also reinforced by the fact that there are special roads built just for the Elves. Legend goes that whenever someone spotted an Elf walking along a street, a special road was built alongside it for the safety of the Elves.
Fascinated by the unconventional culture of Icelanders, I could barely wait until I would be able to take a bath in the most well-known geothermal spa in the world. The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa situated about an hour’s drive from Reykjavik. The geothermally heated groundwater, rising from the Earth’s crust, is rich in minerals, as well as silica. Around the hot spring, there are many pots filled with silica mud, which you can use to rub on your body.
This top tourist destination was named a wonder of the world by National Geographic. In its description, the magazine claims that "the steaming turquoise pools of Iceland's Blue Lagoon, trapped in volcanic rock represent an otherworldly vision."
On the first day of my stay, I was immediately intrigued by the Icelanders’ approach to nudity. Being naked in public showers or the sauna is something completely normal to them. After getting out of the Blue Lagoon, I wrapped a towel around myself and could feel that the locals were giving me strange looks. Well, I was the only one with a towel on after all, and everyone else wasn't embarrassed in the slightest by their nudity. They simply stood there and discussed what they watched in the cinema recently, as if it was the most usual thing in the world. The lady responsible for keeping the Blue Lagoon clean walked up to me and said to me with a smile on her face:
"You have to get used to that. Here, nobody is embarrassed by their bodies and nobody will judge you for you what you look like, only for who you are as a human being. Oh, and one more thing! We’re a very happy nation and we’re always smiling. We’re naked and smiling." Then the woman laughed and got back to her work.
Iceland is known as the land of volcanoes and geysers. Out of the 30-odd geysers scattered around Iceland, some of them are known as ‘dormant geysers’, or simply geothermal hot springs. Geysers are hot springs associated with volcanic areas. A geyser eruption could last anything from a few seconds to a few hours!
It’s the difference in pressure that causes the groundwater to be propelled with great force out of the ground canals. The water inn a geyser can reach temperatures as high as 100°C, so there have been instances of geysers ‘swallowing up’ body parts, when people attempted to submerge their arms or legs in the hot spring.
A geyser erupting is an incredible sight to behold and it reminds you that Iceland truly is a land of the fairytales. As the rift, which marks the division between two tectonic plates runs across Iceland, the country has extensive volcanic activity. There are over 130 volcanoes on the island, 18 of which have been active since 874 AD, or the year the settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun.
It was there, in Iceland, that the largest effusive eruption of lava in recorded history occurred in 1783, which lasted for almost eight months. Iceland fascinated me with the energy and power that dwells within it – it’s a place which I will definitely visit again!