What’s the craziest thing you have done on a holiday?
Mine was wearing a six yards of crepe on the Reynisfjara beach in South Iceland! I was in love with sarees last year when I went to Iceland for the second time in 2018.
My love for sarees spilled over to Iceland too. I always used to wonder how these Bollywood heroines manage to flaunt a saree in sub-zero temperatures. I thought why not experiment with this Bollywood style of adventure and packed an 18-year-old saree for Iceland. Talk about traveling light!
On thinking retrospectively, I realize this particular saree has traveled far and wide with me. It inadvertently pops up now and then into my major life events. Bought by my mom from Mysore in the 1980s, I wore it for the first time in college during my farewell party in Mangalore, then when I first met Ritesh in Meerut and now again in Iceland. So this one is a well-traveled saree.
No, this post is not about my saree.
It’s about soul searching.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
This was the second time I was touching base with Reynisfjara beach, one of the most fascinating places in Iceland.
What’s so fascinating about this place?
Firstly, the most prominent structure on the beach itself is spectacular. Yes, a STRUCTURE on the beach- the naturally formed basalt columns! I have never in my life seen such perfect hexagonal columns proudly standing on top of the other.
They have not been built or put there, but have taken birth as a result of natural deposition of basalt. Even the design of Hallgrimskirkija, the famous church in Reykjavik has been inspired by these natural basalt columns.
A beach with beauty, mysticism and danger
Then there are two rock structures standing in the center of the sea guarding the breath-taking scenery. They look mystically comical standing there like ‘Laurel and Hardy’ with deadpan expressions. Icelanders believe them to be trolls. If you read their folktales, you will come to know they love elves, trolls, and hidden people.
Moreover, this beach is one of the most dangerous beaches in Iceland. Don’t get deceived by its pseudo calm nature. In my entire ring road trip of Iceland, I have not visited a single place where they have put signboards shouting about the dangers of the place. This was the first place where I saw not one but multiple signboards about freak waves.
A few years back, a Chinese tourist lost his life here. No, he was not in the sea or anywhere near the waves. He was climbing the basalt columns (perhaps for a picture) when a freak wave pulled him inside the sea and swallowed him. This beach is notorious for many such incidents.
Please be careful, and always stand facing the waves. The waves may seem quite mild but this beach is infamous for its treacherous waves (one in many hundreds) that sweeps up the area. Why is that so? Perhaps the sea waves here travel directly from Antarctica to Iceland without any land break in between! Can you imagine the enormity of the distance these waves travel?
The first time I visited the Vik area in 2016, it was progressively misty, and the sea disappeared from our view within 20 minutes. We couldn’t even see the road; I remember it was so difficult to drive back to our apartment.
The weather in Iceland is simply unpredictable. The wind is the only constant factor in the Icelandic weather!
When my saree embraced the winds of Iceland
It was during my second visit to Reynisfjara beach that my saree accompanied me. I got a few stares from tourists which I took in my stride. One has to be ready for curious stares and bubbling laughter around if doing something different from the norm.
As for me, I felt exhilarated wearing a six-yard of crepe in the freezing temperature of Iceland!
No, I did not have the armour of woolens and I did not feel cold. Perhaps it was the excitement that gave me warmth, or it was the novelty of the experience. I loved the way my pallu flew in the air. The only problem was it was not just the pallu, but the entire saree flying into the air! My daughter for a moment got scared and told me not to venture near the sea, lest my saree turns into a parachute pulling me with it!
Reynisfjara beach was the first tourist spot we visited on the day we landed in Iceland.
Our flight reached Keflavik International airport around 10 am. We hired a car at the airport and drove to Hella, where we had booked an apartment.
The guy at the reception was kind enough to give us a room (we reached before time and our room was not ready). We had a quick lunch that included cup n noodles, and I changed into my saree before leaving.
The next stop after the black sand beach was Skogafoss (falls). It looked as if the earth had been pulled apart with water gushing forth in between. It is not just the waterfall, but the entire rawness of the nature that gives such a feel. You have to see it to believe it.
Ishita and I stayed at the base of the waterfall; we felt a bit cold so went for a coffee in a café close by. My saree warmth was over by that time! Ritesh trekked to the top of the fall. He is one compulsive traveler.
If you are a Bollywood lover, you would love to know that this was where Kajol had done her saree shoot for the movie Dilwale, starring Sharukh Khan.
Next, we moved on to the Seljalandsfoss, another majestic fall in Iceland. I found the climb up to this fall a bit treacherous with its narrow walking trek, which was wet and slippery. But the hike is worth the view. It is a mystical feel to get behind the falls.
I saw many tourists had put tents at the base of the fall. I was a bit envious of them because they would get to see the best view of the fall at sunset and after all the hustle-bustle of the tourists is silenced.
This was the last stop for the day. We reached back to our guesthouse at around 7 pm. Our expenditure for the day included car rental and 2 cups of coffee. That’s all! No tickets and no parking fee anywhere. And we saw and experienced some of the most spectacular places on earth.
Travel Tips: Carry your munching snacks and ready-to-eat stuff from home. Saves cost as well as time. Moreover, you need good quality water-resistant trekking shoes and water-resistant jersey in Iceland. Or be ready for your clothes and shoes to get wet always.
If you are planning to goto Iceland, you must buy the ‘Lonely Planet’. It helped us a lot in planning our daily road trips. It is the most comprehensive guide on Iceland with loads of relevant information and detailed maps.