Land of Fire, Ice, and Elves.
Updated: Nov 3, 2019
by Rae Targos
Can you guess which country it is?
Hey all. Rae here. I went to Iceland this past October and figured it was time to share my experiences.
Here’s a what I did and how it went:
Upon arriving, I picked up a rental car and began my solo journey of driving the perimeter of the country. Tourists call the path Ring Road.
I was quickly in the middle of nowhere. Roads turned into loose gravel. I’d drive a few hours before seeing another car (that is, until I hit the South side of the country and found ALL THE TOURISTS). The landscape was haunting and mystical and majestic. I basked in feeling small, anonymous, and free. It was just me, my little car, and a rented sleeping bag. I spent the first week sleeping in the car, stopping wherever and whenever I felt. I blasted Chaka Khan and Prince in the car and sang at the top of my lungs without any embarrassment. I LOVED driving in the remote north end of the country.
I drove past volcanoes, hot springs, geothermal fog, the largest glacier in Europe (which is so enormous in scale, it took hours to pass), waterfall upon waterfall (“foss”), and geysers, and Icelandic ponies.
Prior to flying there, I had heard about an Ethiopian restaurant and I was determined to eat there. I understand many people might find it strange to go to Iceland for Ethiopian food, but I don’t get to have it very often. Milinik Restaurant was completely worth the 8 hour drive. And I would do it all over again.
From there, I went to the Silfra Fissure. What is that you ask? Well, it’s where the North American and European tectonic plates meet in the middle of a river at one of Iceland’s national parks. I paid a hefty sum, but I snorkeled in the fissure. It’s a fairly narrow crack, but you can actually swim between North America and Europe. Glacial water fills the fissure and gets purified by the volcanic rock that it passes. That means 3 things:
The water has insanely clear visibility. The water is safe to drink It’s really, really cold water to swim in
It was my first drysuit experience. It took longer to get all of our protective gear on than the actual swim. My lips were purple when we got out.
Snorkeling between tectonic plates.
Then I drove to the capital of Reykyavik and stayed in a pod hostel. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s hotel with rooms that are slightly larger than a coffin. I thought it’d be a unique experience, but then I realized my pod was actually more spacious than any bed I had slept in on a boat!
Building in the Capital City Reykjavik
Inside My Pod
My first highlight in Reykjavik was the Phallalogical Museum. Yes, I’m talking about a penis museum. Yes, it’s a real thing and the museum contains 15 penile sculptures from the Iceland National Handball team. Their mothers must be so proud. There is even a documentary on the museum’s search for its first human specimen: The Final Member.
My second highlight in the city was attending Elf School. I had been looking forward to it because they touted the best pancakes in Iceland on their website.
About 50% of Icelanders believe in elves and the like.
Magnus, the school’s owner, really intrigued me. When I opened the door to the school, I thought I had made a mistake and entered a storage closet. Nope. I had arrived at the correct place. It was very interesting experience, learning about elves, flower elves, gnomes, hidden people, trolls, fairies and why so many of these creatures live in Iceland and not in other places. Magnus has been recording elf sightings for decades and even brought a psychic medium to discuss his daily interactions with elves, etc.
I was just so curious about Magnus I had to ask him why he decided to create Elf School.
I was not prepared for his answer.
“When I was a small boy, I would dream of having sex with elves.”
After I picked my jaw off the floor and put my eyeballs back in their sockets, I think I tried to smile and not look startled. Underneath, I was completely shocked and speechless. I kept waiting for him to crack a smile or say he was joking, but he was being honest.
WHAT is going on in Iceland?! First a penis museum and now elf sex! Crazy Vikings.
Well, anyways, I’m a proud graduate of Elf School and the pancakes made by Magnus’s husband were delicious. It was the most unique experience I had in Iceland and for that, I’m grateful.
Now what have you been up to?
Ps. Sign up to receive Rae’s travel newsletters here.