Extraordinary Experiences Summer 2021 - The Superlatives Issue

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Reynisfjara, Iceland

Jökulsárlón Glacier, Iceland Kerið Crater, Iceland

WILD WONDERS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC by KRISTEN POPE

The wide-open spaces and incredible landscapes of Iceland and the Faroe Islands are ideal for a nature escape. Combine these scenic destinations for the ultimate outdoor adventure. Ever since I saw images of the Faroe Islands, I wanted to go see them in person. Remote Atlantic islands aren’t always the easiest to get to, so when I looked into flight options and saw Iceland was a gateway offering direct flights, I was all in. My husband and I always love trips where we can hike and immerse ourselves in nature, and both Iceland and the Faroe Islands promised endless scenery, challenging trails and untamed nature. We booked our tickets with visions of windswept islands, rugged mountains and glaciers, and adventure on our minds – and we weren’t disappointed.

Arriving in Iceland It was raining sideways when we flew into Reykjavík, Iceland, at 6:15 a.m. After picking up our rental car, my husband and I found a little cafe where we enjoyed a satisfying meal of broccoli soup, fresh-baked bread, and pastries, while gulping down coffee after our flight. At first, we laughed at the warning sticker on the rental car: “Don’t blow up car door.” But as the wind gusted, we soon realized it wasn’t a joke. A car door could easily be damaged by what the Icelandic media dubbed “flying trampoline weather.” Stocking up on sandwiches and snacks, we headed out to road trip along Iceland’s southern coast. After donning layers of fleece, rain jackets, rain pants, and hiking boots, we were ready to explore.

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ENSEMBLE EX TR AORDINARY EXPERIENCES I 2021

Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice, and we soon discovered both its volcanic wonders and glaciers. We were enthralled by Reynisfjara’s black sand beach, Geysir’s geological features, and the kaleidoscope of colors at Kerið Crater. Peering into the Silfra fissure, we saw where two tectonic plates meet and then went on to tour Þingvellir National Park. Ice was on the agenda at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which was packed with chunks of ancient ice, from room-sized slabs to pebble-sized pieces. We savored every moment of silence and solitude, listening to glaciers calving with a reverberating splash and watching ripples spread across the water. Flowing water was also plentiful further along our route, with many cascading waterfalls lining the way. We hiked near a few beauties, including Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, and spotted plenty of others as we drove in the mist, which created an air of mystery.

Exploring the Faroe Islands The days flew by, and soon it was time to hop on a 90-minute flight to the Faroe Islands. The North Atlantic archipelago is a self-governing nation within Denmark, and has remained relatively undiscovered. While Iceland is known by travelers from around the world, we mostly shared the Faroe Islands with locals and sheep. As we drove from the airport to our rental accommodation, we watched the late evening light dance along the hillsides as ewes and lambs settled in for the night. Our host