The new destination: Iceland

Interview to Daniel:

Do you think in the future Iceland will become a touristy place?

I like this question because I think a lot of people would have very different opinions on what “touristy” might mean to them! I think in a way, Iceland has become quite touristy already and has been for the better part of the last decade. There are quite a number of people that travel to Iceland for the beautiful landscapes, amazing waterfalls, and their freedom in travel (I mean, you can basically camp anywhere you want).
Most national sites are free to visit, free parking, and are some of THE most stunning landscapes you will ever see. There is a lot of diversity in the land of fire & ice and that gives way to your modern outdoorsman. I appreciate Iceland’s openness and appreciation for all things nature – they have a lot to offer the world and it’s written in stone. Their history is astoundingly interesting and the fact that you can walk amongst glaciers and a volcano on the same day screams somewhere I want to be.
On the other hand, I can understand that Iceland isn’t for the faint of heart – I don’t know that I would go so far to say that Iceland is the most popular travel destination for most people. When I talk to people about my travels, I definitely get an interesting reaction of inquiry and wonder as to why would I ever want to go there? Then, I show them my photos and the amazing things I got to do and see. Their reaction quickly turns from confusion to amazement.

How’s the weather?

I kind of eluded to the weather a bit, but I think it’s fantastic! More or less, it depends on the time of year that you go much like it is in Canada. The winters are basically a blanket of snow and the summers are rather nice, warm, and sunny! I went near the end of fall and the weather was a mixture of cold and rainy, not usually an ideal combination. Iceland is no stranger to in-climate weather – ask the locals. A normal day is near “blow your socks off” kind of weather anywhere else and I mean that literally, A matter of perspective I suppose, but I loved every second of it. It brought a sense of authenticity to my trip not so much as that was the weather I was hoping for, but more along the lines of it didn’t matter what the weather was – I was happy to be there soaking in (pun intended) everything Iceland stood for and had to offer.

Is Iceland like you expected it to be or it was different?

I actually did a lot of research into Iceland before I left for my travels which is unusual for me. I don’t typically research much, I’m more of the fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy. As my wife says, “we’re not planners.” I think I researched quite a bit into Iceland merely out of interest. I had always wanted to go, always wanted to experience what it was like and in some weird way, I always felt like Iceland had a piece of me though I had never been before. In my research, I discovered that my Gramma had put together an ancestral tree (pictures/drawings/notes and all) of my roots for every immediate family member before she passed. She had been working on these books for a couple of decades and in sifting through the many connections, I found that I actually have a “Scandinavian” decent dated as far back as the mid-late 1800s which is as far back as my Gramma had noted so perhaps that’s where the connection lies. Iceland was everything I expected and more. I have a thing for rocks and water and luckily, Iceland is full of those. It was everything my little heart desired in life, honestly. I could live there forever.

Did you meet animals?

Yeah! Absolutely! We met a number of Icelandic ponies! They are as beautiful as the photos make them look that you see on social media! They’re also very kind as well and very welcoming. They didn’t mind that we were petting them and weren’t really afraid though were also seemingly harmless. It almost felt like we were in the movies when we saw them. I didn’t get the opportunity to meet any other little critters. My favorite animals are foxes and I was really hoping to run into an Arctic Fox but no luck. There is an Arctic Fox sanctuary located on the northwestern coast of Iceland, but we didn’t quite have time to get out that way. Iceland is also very well known for Puffins which was another bird I was hoping to see but we weren’t necessarily in the right places and I think we were at the tail end of their migrating season.

Do you consider Iceland’s landscapes like the most beautiful you have ever seen in your life or not?

The short answer is a resounding yes, but actually and I can’t emphasize this enough – Iceland is quite literally one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my short life on this planet. I would be hard-pressed to find anywhere quite as stunning as Iceland and I mean that with every fibre in my body.
Iceland is such an incredibly unique place, a place of diversity, dichotomy, and demure. It is as every bit of light as it is darkness, every bit as rough as it is soft, and as every bit calming as it is adventurous. There is something for everyone from massive waterfalls in the middle of what seems like nowhere to an eclectic culture of food and fashion. I have always resonated with things in this world that are different. I like to be different, it’s in my personality to go against the grain, and take the road less travelled. Though Iceland has been brought to the limelight of attention on social media, I think that there is a lot that sets it apart from the rest of the world and that is what drew my attention to Iceland.

How long were you in Iceland? Will you go there again?

I was in Iceland for a total of 10 days not including travel days and it wasn’t enough. I had actually planned this trip with my wife to be a Scandinavian trip. We had decided to book our flights to Iceland, travel the infamous Ring Road (Highway 1 around the entire island) in a week, then off to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. We planned a grand total of 18 days for our trip and after the first 7 in Iceland, we quickly realized that we were being ambitious. There is absolutely no way that we were going to be able to see all of these countries in a total of 18 days. We didn’t account for how much there was to see and do. We didn’t account for how much we would actually come to love Iceland.
We left Iceland on the 9th day into our trip and headed for Norway next. There, we spent a night in Oslo then flew to Tromso.
Tromso is a quaint city north of the Arctic Circle which is full of character much like Iceland is and is every bit as beautiful. I feel that I should save the details of Norway for another time, but needless to say, my time off wasn’t enough. This was my vacation and as much as I wanted to stay, it did have to end and I had to return to my reality back home eventually. Would I go back? Long story short, absolutely – there are things I never got to see that are still topping my bucket list today.

Do you suggest going to Iceland? Why?

Everyone should take the opportunity to travel to Iceland.
There are things there that are not offered anywhere else in this world from the mountainous landscapes to the capability to swim between two tectonic plates in 2°C glacial water.
You can visit thousand-year-old glacial ice caves, visit volcanic hot places, and even surf (shoutout to Chris Burkard)!
Iceland is the adventurer’s dream, full of wonder, history, and legendary tales of trolls – yes, trolls.
Ps. the Mývatn Nature Baths are out of this world. Google it, you can thank me later.

Do you think climate changes have impacted Iceland’s landscapes?

Unfortunately, I do and not for the better and I am very passionate about this. It is pretty abundantly clear that climate change is a major contributing factor to a lot of the negative impacts we are seeing today in nature made globally. Whether you believe it or not, the science supports strong irrefutable evidence that our impact as the human race on this planet is insurmountable. A “belief” of climate change isn’t the question anymore – this isn’t merely just what we think, it is of what we know and what we know is that we are writing our own ending. We are our own worst enemies in many ways, but the biggest enemy we have created is the enemy of the environment. As the adage goes, “You don’t get anywhere without stepping on a few toes” though often referred to in the context of career successes – I think there is a lot of truth when applied to the environment. We’ve stepped on nature’s toes, plain and simple and this has had a huge impact on our planet.
We must respect the Earth, treat it like we treat our home, and keep it tidy. We need to put our toys back when we are done with them and find a balance between our impact and keeping the Earth “clean” so to speak. I have a profound respect for the planet and I absolutely think that we have impacted Iceland’s landscapes. A part of climate change is global warming which if you have been living under a rock for the past four decades, it’s the planet’s heat retention of CO2 emissions which are depleting our ozone and in effect, causing the planet to rise in temperature. I’ll spare you the science lesson, but this causes the ice to melt and the global water levels to rise – drastically. This creates a lot of secondary and tertiary problems, but nevertheless, the impact is causing Iceland’s glaciers to retreat thereby changing its landscape – not good.
This is a highly debated topic, but the debate isn’t important anymore – we’ve passed that. It’s time to move to action. As a planet, we need to come together to fight for our home, we owe it that. We need the Earth, the Earth does not need us, so it’s time to treat it like we are guests in our own home. We have already destroyed the homes of countless plants and animals and I understand that we are growing as a species, but what I strongly advocate for is balance at the very least We have shown that during the COVID-19 pandemic that our global leaders can come together to combat a seriously life-threatening virus. At the very least, we should show the same respect for our Earth – our lives depend on it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but if we continue on this path without effecting major change today, this will be, without a shadow of a doubt,  a problem for our future. Would you want that for our kids?

Why did you decide to go to Iceland?

I don’t really know exactly why I chose to go to Iceland, but I would definitely say it was an amalgamation of many things coming together. Have you ever had those moments in life where you feel like you are right where you belong? You are right where you are supposed to be? It was one of those moments for me. I’ll throw back a little background to preface and provide some context. My wife was a girl I had just recently met about 6 years ago during my early twenties. I had been quite the busy body in university and was about to graduate when we had gone out with a bunch of friends one night. That happened to be the first night we had really had the opportunity to get together – we had been chatting here and there for the last few months prior.
I arrived downtown at my local pub and met up with my friends in which we were catching up and drinking some brews. A little later, my [now] wife approached me and asked me, “Do you want to go to Iceland and Norway with me?” That was the first thing she asked me before a “Hello” and “How are you?” At that moment, I had this sinking feeling whether I was consciously aware of it or not at the time, that this was the girl I was supposed to be with. She had me head-over-heels with that single question and I think it was largely because I had always wanted to go – I just needed the excuse to.
We saved for Iceland for the better part of a year (it’s fairly expensive against our Canadian dollar), so it took some time. Just shy of a year later, we had been dating and booked our flights out. We were actually going! That week, I proposed to her overlooking a waterfall far in the distance on a cliff on the east coast. I’d say I went to Iceland to chase my dreams.

Leave us a general comment about your experience.

Wow! I don’t know what else I could say that I haven’t already! But I’ll do my best!
There are things in life that I think we often take for granted, simple things like running water, or readily available food, but what I think we most often take for granted is our time. We have the ability to work for the finer things in life, get an education to get a better paying job and a bigger house and a faster car. We are driven to create those opportunities for ourselves in life because that is what we are taught success means. I am guilty of this, I admit. But our time is what we trade, or give up and coincidentally, it is the one thing we cannot get back. My time is the most precious thing to me in this world and what I do with it is of the utmost importance, but of course, it guides me, humbles me, and keeps me human. I want to use my time in the best way that I know how to.
Iceland was a paragraph or better yet, a chapter of my life where I was free of worry, free of mind, and present in every moment. I got to be me, experience and discover something new about myself. Iceland is so much more than it’s landscapes – it’s a written part of my past from my Gramma’s ancestral tree and will always be written in my dreams to return in the future for my future son (I just found out I’m having a baby boy). From the peaks of the mountains of Iceland to the Black Sand Beaches and the fallen plane, there is so much to tell here that is untold and it’s up to us to discover its beauty.
Moreover, one of my passions in life is to travel, see the world for all that it has to offer, meet new people, and share my love for life. I have a zest for travel, it’s my vice and I know that I am lucky enough to have gotten to travel as much as I have. To some people going to Iceland is but a dream, but it was my reality for 10 days. I went to fulfill a dream, to live, to experience, to see the Aurora Borealis, and to spend time with the people I have come to love. Life is fragile, it can be taken from us at any moment, and the last thing I want to live is a life of what-ifs. I want to make an impact on this planet, inspire others, and educate. I want to teach people who I am, what I stand for, and share my story. My story is my legacy and my legacy is the mark I am leaving of my time on this planet. My time is what drives me and my time left is a measure of my success. This is my life, my mark, my legacy.

Thanks to Daniel for taking part to the “Experience” project.
We hope you the best !

Instagram: Daniel BattersbyTwoForFlight

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