May 9th- From Iceland with Love

My very first trip to another continent, and not only do I get to experience France soon, but Iceland as well. I know that we aren’t exactly here under the best conditions, but I am still so happy to have this experience! The three hour flight delay was a pain… But the flight itself, despite being the longest one I’ve ever taken, wasn’t too bad. Almost no turbulence and there were clouds the whole way, so I didn’t really see the ground. What I did see, though, was incredible. I wish I had looked up from my book a few minutes sooner, because by the time I noticed the Northern Lights, it was nearly sunrise and they were starting to fade. I’m going to look again tonight and try to get a picture.
One of my favorite parts of Iceland so far is how friendly everyone is (plus this hotel has great food). From the reception desk at the hotel (which by the way is the nicest place I’ve ever stayed), to strangers on the bus, to people downtown helping us with directions… Everyone has been so nice to us tourists. Reykjavik, as our bus driver told us this morning, is a “sleepy old town.” Life here doesn’t seem too fast paced or even that stressful. It’s actually been a really relaxing experience for me, and I have only been here eight hours. I guess that just means I’ll have to come back here and spend some time just to de-stress.

The view from my super nice hotel room

I already feel like my horizons have been expanded. I’ve found myself somewhere I never imagined I would go… Someplace so different than where I am from… And it’s amazing. I feel… Vulnerable. But in a really great, incredible and exciting way. It’s exhilarating. It’s like I’m completely open, because this part of the world is completely new to me; I hardly even have any preconceptions (is that even a word?) about it, about France or Iceland. I think maybe that’s the right way– at least for me –to do it, because it can be so perspective-altering.

Leif Eriksson, I’m assuming.

I of course am excited to go to France tomorrow, and am a bit sad we could potentially miss Normandy… But I’m grateful as well. I can already tell that my cultural awareness has grown, and I’ve only spent one day in Iceland! I’ve learned a TON about this country so far, like that shopkeepers don’t expect you to talk to them, or even say “thank you” in a lot of cases. I’ve learned about the country too, apart from the cultural elements (for example, the national dish here is puffin, but a national favorite is wind dried fish or lamb). I never knew that most of this country is a lava field, or that there’s something like 126 hot springs per person living in Iceland (although don’t quote me on that because I don’t know if it’s per person or per 2,500 people). Also, puffins and whales live here, but sometimes polar bears accidentally wind up in Iceland after drifting in on floating ice from Greenland. That’s so strange and endearing, it’s like “oh shoot! I accidentally ended up in Iceland again!” Apparently the “most picturesque waterfall in Europe” is located here. And volcanos. VOLCANOS!! Reykjavik itself was built on a lava field, and powers much of its activity through the use of geothermal energy. That’s pretty damn amazing.
I’ve had so much fun on this trip already… And I wasn’t expecting really to make any new friends, but I’ve already exceeded my goal by making one new friend so far. Yes! I think there’s more friends to be made too, once we reach France. Actually– now that I think about it, I’ve made two new friends. We met a man from Sweden and spent the afternoon exploring downtown together. I’m taking a lot of pictures so far, but I promised my parents if at least be in a few… I’ll take more in France for sure. I’ve got some Icelandic money now too, which is pretty cool. I love seeing the differences in currency between countries. I’ve also already written home. Just a few postcards to my family and one friend, but still. I love writing letters, and I will absolutely be sending more from France! It’s nearly time for dinner, so I’ll write more later (tomorrow).

This is Anders and he paid for our bus fare

Maybe I’ll even try puffin tonight…….

Probably not.

From Iceland with love,
Maddie

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