Iceland is commonly referred to as “The Land of Fire and Ice”- and it truly is. This is a magical land filled with wonderful people, trolls, and of course a oxymoronically “fire and ice”. There is so much to say about this world that until relatively recently in history was completely isolated from the rest of the world.
In fact, the modern Icelandic language is almost identical to that of the original Norse that was spoken from the very tongue of the Vikings that settled it. Let’s begin with the capitol and the largest city: Reykjavik.
Reykjavik, (meaning “smoky bay” in Icelandic) was named by its Norwegian founder,Ingólfur Arnarson, one of the first people to settle Iceland in 874 AD. Its name was given due to the many hot springs and geysers that are located within its borders. Although there were a few Gaelic monks in small isolated settlements on Papa Island (Priest Island) as early as 800 CE (they later left because they didn’t want to live near their new Pagan neighbors). Regardless, Ingólfur Arnarson is recognized as the first Nordic settler to build a permanent settlement and homestead in and around Reykjavik.
According to Landnáma (a text written 3-4 centuries after Ingólfur‘s settlement) Ingolfer Arnarson had fled Norway after being caught up in a blood feud. In dire need of a new land, he heard that a new island was discovered in the Atlantic by Garðarr Svavarsson ,Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson and possibly others. With his good friend,
Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson, sailed to this allusive land: Iceland. Upon sight of land he threw his “high seat pillars” (a sign of being a chieftain) overboard . and decided that he would settle wherever the gods chose to bring them ashore. Two of his slaves desperately searched the coasts for three years until they finally found the pillars in a small bay we now know as Reykjavik.
Today Reykjavik is a modern a bustling city and a great starting point for your Icelandic adventure. This fabulous city and its many natural wonders can be seen by guided tours as well as on your own at your own pace. This city and its surrounds are home to smoky geysers, blue lagoons, waterfalls, and endless green hills. A visit to this magical land will warm your heart and give you memories that will truly last a lifetime. A great way to meet the locals is to stay at a locally run guest houses, which is usually a rented room in a private home. The hosts are lovely and will be happy to welcome you to their wonderful home.
In conclusion, don’t miss out on a journey to “The Land Of Fire And Ice’s Smokey Bay”. Its history, and legends as well as a very modern city, will leave you feeling the very silent magic that drew Gaelic monks to its tranquil shores and the early Norse settlers to its peace.
Stay tuned for more information