This is where you go if you want to feel like you’re the only person on Earth. Iceland is geographically distinct appearing as a distinct speck in the middle of the ocean while the massive European continent looms underneath. I’m ineradicably drawn to Iceland’s otherworldliness; it seems to be the product of dreams that are only conjured up by the most vivid imagination.
It’s no surprise that it inspired Tolkein’s Middle Earth with its vast array of ice fields, tundra, lava, mountains and waterfalls. I can almost imagine myself walking across its barren lands for hours and unexpectedly encountering ethereal masses along the way. It’s rare to find some place that’s so rugged and untouched that makes you feel as if you’re both everywhere and nowhere.
Travel writer Pico Iyer coins it as the ‘Loneliest Place on Earth’ and a place where its people and culture reflect the unpredictable landscape. Even its capital Reykjavik (also called ‘Surprise City’) isn’t what you’d expect; it’s surprisingly quiet for a city that Iyer describes as being “as clean and perfect as a ship inside a bottle.”
Somehow I am always visiting Iceland – whether in memory or imagination – and always walking through its chilly, ghostly streets, pale even after midnight in the summer, and hushed, no dark to be seen for 2,400 hours or more.” – Pico Iyer
After months of darkness Iceland is suddenly shrouded in constant light – the sun never sets, but rather travels horizontally as if it’s in a permanent state of sunset. Iyer (who was writing in the early ’90s) describes this time of ‘saturnalian summer’ as a sort of topsy-turvy wonderland where people believe that rolling naked in the dew is a cure for nineteen different ailments and that you are granted a wish if you cross seven fences, collecting a flower at each one.
Although some of Iceland’s traditions may not be as strongly upheld 20 years later, it’s still the land of the midnight sun once summertime arrives. The video below, which was expertly reported on in 2011, is just so incredible that I couldn’t help but initiate its resurgence. It’s the result of Joe Capra’s painstaking filming over 17 days when he travelled solo around the entire island, serving as proof that this fairytale land does exist.