Wednesday, October 4, 2017

How 'Game Of Thrones' Inspired Me To Plan A Trip To Iceland

Aside from my love for travel and adventure, I also love watching movies and TV series that I can find travel inspirations from. Some of my favorite shows were actually filmed in Europe, specifically in Iceland, which has been on my travel bucket list. Now that I’ve relocated in the UAE, I know that my chances of exploring the island nation is much closer than it was before.

{LONDRANGAR BASALT CLIFFS} Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

I was instantly hooked with the idea of traveling to Iceland, after watching ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’, and ‘The Game of Thrones’. I genuinely wanted to see up close, these places that I’ve learned to grow appreciation for. And if falling in love with the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ was so easy to do in films, what more when I’m finally in the Nordic Island Country of Europe? I feel ecstatic just dreaming about my future adventures there.

I’m a huge fan of The Game of Thrones series (sad that there’s only one season left!); and it would certainly come full circle when I finally get the chance to see some of the locations where they filmed several of their episodes (i.e. Dimmuborgir, Grjótagjá, Skaftafell, Vatnajökull, Vik, and Thingvellir National Park). 

Trip Goal #1: Visit the Grjótagjá Cave

Jon Snow has been a favorite character of mine ever since The Game of Thrones started. It’s been both fascinating and alluring to see his character’s growth through the years, especially when he fell in love with a wildling named Ygritte. I will never forget the place where they shot their ‘intimate scene’, as it was filmed inside Grjótagjá Cave, which was later dubbed by GOT fans as ‘Jon and Ygritte’s Love Nest’. The beauty of the cavern may not have been completely revealed on that particular episode. But that’s all the more reason to visit and to explore Iceland’s gorgeous small lava cave. 

Trip Goal #2: Do the Golden Circle Tour 

It would also be nice to try the Golden Circle Excursion (day tour), which will take you to Iceland’s geological wonders and natural attractions like the Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Strokkur. 

The Thingvellir National Park, which was also a filming location for Game of Thrones (where Brienne and the Hound’s intense combat took place), is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to the island nation’s largest lake, the park is also where the oldest parliament in the world was established, Alþingi (the national parliament of Iceland). 

If I'll have more time to explore the park, I would definitely  snorkel in Silfra, as I heard that you can dive there, and experience being in-between two worlds: the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

I also look forward to seeing the iconic Gullfoss Waterfall (found in Southwest Iceland), as it’s one of the most famous tourist sites in the country. It’s quite calming to look at the flow of the 'Golden Waterfall' even just through photos and videos online. Absolutely mesmerizing, the falls also exude an illusion (from a certain vantage point) that the river is being swallowed into the earth. 

{GULLFOSS WATERFALL} Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

Strokkur is another natural attraction that is part of the tour. It's where the most active geyser in the area can be seen. I’ve never seen an actual natural geyser before, so it would definitely be cool to see a big one like it in action.

{STROKKUR} Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

Trip Goal #3: Explore Vatnajökull

As a GOT fan, you’ll know that Vatnajökull is the strange land ‘Beyond the Wall’. It is where you will discover some of the most mysterious beings in the series (think giants and White Walkers!). But on a serious note, Vatnajökull is also where the largest glacier in Europe can be found – making it a destination on its own. 

SIDE TRIPS

Go on a hunt for the elusive Northern Lights

I heard that one of the best times to see the elusive Northern Lights ('Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south) is during winter. As much as I don’t like being exposed in really freezing conditions (I’ve lived in a tropical country all my life!), I would brave the cold just so I could watch these bright and vibrant lights dance into the horizon. 

{NORTHERN LIGHTS} Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism

Bathe in Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon hot spring

{BLUE LAGOON} Photo courtesy of Iceland Tourism
Believe it or not, I got more excited to see the Nordic isle because of the TV Series, Keeping up with the Kardashians. Part of the group’s itinerary was to try the Blue Lagoon hot spring, where they got to bathe in the uniquely bluish water, and got to apply mud (consists of silica, algae and minerals) on their skin. 

The Blue Lagoon is breathtaking, that it's no longer a surprise that National Geographic named it as part of the “25 Wonders of the World” in 2012. 

NOTE: The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, which is a UNESCO Geopark, is located just 50 minutes from Reykjavík, and 20 minutes from Keflavík International Airport.

Here's to exploring Iceland real soon!

Explore & Be Free!
Mai

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