This fall, I've embarked on a month-long writing and walking retreat in France. The trip is a graduation gift from my husband and family, including a stay in my sister-in-law and brother-in-law's second home outside Paris--a charming little cottage heated by a wood fireplace and in a village with a delicious boulangerie and greengrocer. What more does one need? The trip ties into my interest in the influence of walking in literature, but more about that later. First, a 24-hour stopover in Reykjavik.
Icelandair allows passengers to add up to one week of stopover for no extra charge. You may remember the Iceland economy was devastated by the banking fiasco in 2008. Given Iceland's history, and their ability to make a home out of what seemed a completely inhabitable land, it's no surprise that they have turned the economy around through the promotion of tourism. It's also no surprise that visitors love what they find and return again and again. The land itself is among the youngest land masses on the planet, formed out of volcanic rock, and now heated and powered by geothermal energy thanks to the help of magma and underground springs. In fact, many Icelanders and visitors, like my friend, Tina Schumann, and me, enjoy soaking in the waters of the country's natural springs and spas, the most famous of which is the Blue Lagoon.
We rode the first shuttle of the morning, directly from Keflavik Airport, arriving just as the sun started to peek over the treeless horizon. Jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, and disoriented, we quickly learned how remarkably restorative and downright delightful luxuriating in a hot spring can be. And this coming from someone who has owned a hot tub for nearly ten years and never used it. The Blue Lagoon's water has natural minerals and silica they extract to make two different masks--one deep-cleansing, the other moisturizing. No doubt all of us weary travelers looked as lovely and refreshed as the model below. Or at least felt that way.
Here are a few more photos from our brief stay, including our walk around downtown Reykjavik, which is, yes, utterly charming.
Tukk, tukk, Iceland! Next stop ... Paris!
PS: Tukk = thank you.
Jill McCabe Johnson's research and writing practice follow the tradition of the French Medieval poetic form, the "chanson d'aventure" or song of adventure, where a writer walks into a new environment for enlightenment and inspiration.