I started off my Euro trip on an island, but warm weather and coconut cocktails weren't on the menu. I was in search of adventure, majestic sights -- I wanted to change my perspective on the world, and come back a new person.
Iceland did just that. It changed my life forever.
Touring the South Coast left me with more speechless moments than I had ever had in my 25 years of living. Here are just five of the most magnificent places I witnessed that will give you a new appreciation for the wonders of Mother Earth.
1. Any and all of the waterfalls along the South Coast.
Driving around the coast, you'll see more beautiful waterfalls than you can count, and each one is absolutely unique.
But the queen bee of all waterfalls is Skógafoss.
...one of the most magical places I've ever seen in my life. The force of the water, the sheer magnitude of the drop, and most importantly, the brilliant double rainbow that appears at the base - I was cheesing harder than a 7 year old at Disney Land.
The sound of the water crashing is deafening, but there's a calm that leaves you breathless. You forget how cold it is, how wet you are, or what you were doing with your life before you stepped into its vicinity. Your mind stops and you feel nothing but a sense of peace and tranquility.
You'll climb cliffs that overlook the waves of the ocean crashing below you. The wind is harsh but it envelopes and cradles you like a newborn baby.
There are no crowds of people to avoid. There is no one trying to sell you a trinket. There are no sirens or horn honking. There is nothing but the wind, the ocean and the mountains surrounding you.
3. The basalt columns at Vik
It's raining when we get to Vik, so the sky and water blend so beautifully, sharply contrasted against the black sand.
I'm staring at the sea stacks at Reynisdrangar at the
southernmost point of Iceland and wondering how they don't just topple over into the ocean.
Then the sun peeks through the clouds, and the sky turns from a hazy white to a pale blue in a matter of minutes.
The stones along the beach are perfectly smooth, and your feet sink when you walk further away from the water.
Then you realize that what you thought was just another cliff/mountain is actually a massive cave, adjacent to a basalt column with steps slippery but totally climb-worthy.
So you climb them... carefully.
4. A lagoon full of floating glacier chunks.
This place was so magical, I dedicated an entire post to it.
Floating chunks of ice blocks that span farther than you can see. We went back a second time on a different day, and it's worth seeing twice because every second, minute, day - it's forever changing.
5. The Solheimajokull glacier
All you've got to prevent yourself from slipping down a crack into pitch black nothingness are crampons on your feet and a hiking axe you're not quite sure how to use. The Solheimajokull glacier is the tongue of ice that flows down from the Myrdalsjokull glacier, the fourth largest glacier in Iceland. And you're going to hike that sh-t.
(Read C'mon girl, let's go hike a glacier. C'mon girl, let's go hike a glacier.)
We were surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and before I could make my way back to solid (melted?) ground, it started hailing bullets. My helmet was too tight and my sunglasses pinched my nose, but I was so high from what I couldn't believe I had just done, nothing mattered. I had hiked a glacier in Iceland, and I had hiked it without dying.
This article was originally posted on GreaseandGlamour.com.