Read more about our Iceland adventures in our ebook
Iceland: A Stormy Motorcycle Adventure
by Sherrie McCarthy
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Despite extensive travel over the past 11 years on 4 continents I have never before felt like I had entered a fantasy novel. (Well, except for being fairly convinced that if fairies did exist they had a kingdom in the gardens of Catherine Palace, the Romanov’s summer palace just outside of St. Petersburg, but I digress!). The point being, I am a dork, and despite ranking anime, comics and fantasy novels as among some of my favorite things, I rarely look about me and go “THIS is what I have always pictured in my head.” That is until this trip to Iceland. And this goes beyond soaking your body in blue steamy water…
We headed into Iceland’s interior almost immediately, and although Patrick declared it was like venturing into Mordor, I felt like I truly understood what the characters of the Dragonlanceseries felt. (This was THE series for me throughout highschool, I named my Iguana Kit after the dragon rider in the chronicles, but again I digress, but not without a point! Which is – that this is in fact a high honor for the country indeed).
Here was a land where I could finally understand the meaning of grotesque beauty. Despite thinking I had in mind what was meant by this, it was not until last month that I truly comprehended the extent of what this phrase could mean. Resembling the moon at points and Mars at the other, always completely alien and yet enthralling, no camera can capture the eerie beauty of Iceland’s interior.
And eerie it is. You feel like you are someplace where you are not entirely welcome, despite the fact that there is no population to speak of. (I also think that this feeling of the land itself rejecting you is what makes people remember it as more isolated than it really is, because although no one actually lives there, during the summer months at least you can expect no less than 30 Germans and a scattering of other tourists to come barreling down in their Jeeps). So although far from crowded, you are never alone (just try to pee!).
As we headed northward we entered the world of Michael Ende. In the English world he is best known for The Never Ending Story (still one of my fav movies) But his other works have not made it into popular culture. Jim Knopf however is a treasure icon in Germany. (Or at the very least among the Schweizer family, with both Patrick and his cousin Joscha naming their motorcycles after characters in the novel).
Emma the steam locomotive and Nepomuk the half dragon/half hippo of the books:
Their motorcycle namesakes:
Still I digress, while visiting Krafla Patrick and I looked at each other and declared “Kummerland!” (Or at least he did, I squealed “that place Nepomuk is from!”) Surrounded by these bubbling, sulphuric pits of water and blue goo I began to think that a tour of Iceland must be part of a fantasy writers rite of passage.
But the final episode (at least to date, we still have 12 more days here!) was when I truly felt we had entered an area that Tolkien himself must have himself experienced. For here was a feeling of such evil and impending doom that an army of orcs would be preferable to meeting whatever was watching you. For it was in the Glama moors that I stopped seeing why people believe Iceland is inhabited by the supernatural, and rather joined their ranks of believers.
We don’t have pictures to show you because the feeling of evil was such that we did not want to stop. Maybe it was because it was twilight, maybe because the fog was so thick that when I looked in my mirror all I could see was the black road; Patrick; and a layer of fog that literally hung there more like a sentient presence than a natural phenomenon (and I am a Newfoundlander, fog does not frighten me unless a moose suddenly looms out of it and I am in a car hurdling directly towards it), but whatever it was, there was such an abject feeling feeling of terror that neither of us stopped until we were out of there…