Jack's Adventures In Iceland
Iceland, first off and unsurprisingly, was a tad cold.
As a result I now relish the feeling, and am not massively looking forward to summer – the impending ‘arctic spells’ we’re about to suffer here in the UK will be a welcome return to the daily tone of Reykjavik.
Memories on arrival of howling winds and sleet buffeting the incredibly cheerful bus driver as he loaded our luggage blend into a fortnight of mostly the same, with early morning trips to the swimming pool, casual strolls into the city, and exploring the coast all bathed in biting winds and the crunch of snow underfoot.
The weather did nothing to curb the enthusiasm for the project though, painting and renovating the partner organisation’s Headquarters and accommodation buildings. Work has been happening since January, and we were just one team in a wider group of volunteers who, over a number of weeks, have made a big difference to Worldwide Friends. All of these volunteers represent the sense of close community you instantly feel upon arrival.
Most of our time was split between painting different areas of the long term volunteer accommodation, or helping with work on renovating accommodation that had fallen into disrepair. The main undertaking being converting a disused room to be a woodwork workshop, drumming area and a cinema room/chill out area.
In the free time volunteers were allowed to go to the cinema or swimming pool for free, see the wealth of history and Icelandic culture spread over Reykjavik and also go on organised excursions out into the southeast of Iceland to see geysers, waterfalls and a glacier, the latter of which was beyond comprehension. It’s also not as expensive as people make out either, only a little more than London prices, so going out and/or buying gifts to take back home doesn’t bring on an aneurysm.
All in all, a mix of knowledgeable, open-minded and incredibly interesting people with a great sense of humour injected into every aspect of the fortnight, alongside an unusual and eccentric cityscape surrounded by astonishing natural beauty, made the two weeks I spent there painfully unforgettable. I honestly miss even the most mundane and routine things, and can visualise the street on which we stayed in all its colour and pragmatism.
I can’t recommend going enough. The summer offers a vast number and variety of projects combined with long days and increased opportunities for travel round the country. Whilst with the winter comes the opportunity to see the aurora, attend numerous music and film festivals and see the country at its most raw and enigmatic state – you can go at any time of year and do something you want to do while seeing just one of the many faces of Iceland.