Iceland Bound: March, 2015 (Pre-Departure Part One)

Sigur Ros, Glosoli Official Music Video

Iceland Pre-Departure Part One

Each spring, R. and I take a long weekend trip to some photogenic part of Japan. To hike the ancient cedar rain forests of Yakushima, for example, or tour the rural island/open-concept art gallery of Naoshima Island in the Inland Sea. This year, since our Christmas had a winter theme (a Patagonia Nano Air jacket for me; base layers and an Outdoor Research Primaloft jacket for her), we were leaning towards a weekend in snow country: to the powder-filled river valleys of Niseko, perhaps, or Yuzawa (setting for Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country) or the Japan Alps. After all, parts of Hokkaido and the Sea of Japan side of Honshu are among the snowiest places on earth…

So I was a little surprised when R. told me the other day, at 4am, where she wants to go this March: Iceland.

Iceland! “Land of Fire and Ice,” they call it. A place so beautiful that Gunnarr – one of the heroes of the Icelandic tale Njal’s Saga – faces death rather than leave his homeland. Birthplace of Bjork. And home base to the post-rock band Sigur Ros. WHO. ARE. GODS. Just saying…

Iceland is also a beautiful, if photogenic in an understated way, place. Check out the landscapes by Michael Reichmann, who calls it “a photographer’s paradise.”

In fact, Iceland has been on our short-list of adventures for the past few years – especially since Sigur Ros hasn’t played a gig in Tokyo recently (are you reading this, Jonsi?). And I was planning to surprise R. with a trip next summer when, for my 50th birthday, we would take a five hour, 44 minute flight to Rejkyavik after visiting friends and family in Toronto.

But, R. does her homework, and among other things she told me that March is prime aurora spotting season. And the tour she found is considerably cheaper than others to this most expensive of destinations. Plus, she assured me, despite the name, Iceland is not really that cold in winter (I remember something like this from when I was a kid; the Vikings put the “ice” in Iceland to scare away other settlers; the “green” in Greenland was, I guess, a practical joke.).

Cool. We’re Iceland bound!