Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2019

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We explored glaciers in a similar all-around fashion. At the Sólheimajökull Glacier, Atli arranged for Jon, one of Iceland's most accomplished mountaineers and respected experts on glaciers, to lead a three-hour trek atop the glacier, complete with crampons and ice axes. We ventured deep into an ice cave at the Vatnajökull Glacier, admiring the obsidian- like surface created by the compression of water and volcanic ash. We also stopped at "Blue Crush," a cerulean chunk of ice sculpted by the elements to resemble a curling wave. A temporary installation, the ice formations will morph and melt as time goes on and temperatures rise. Atli likened the notoriety of the Reynisfjara black-sand beach to the Coliseum in Rome. As our footprints pressed a fresh layer of snow into the sand, the resulting mixture resembled crushed Oreo cookies. Most tourists cluster at the entrance, so it's easy to †nd a sense of solitude by taking a short stroll down the beach in either direction while pondering the jet-black geology of the substrate, which gradually transitions from grainy sand to smooth pebbles. During one late afternoon drive, the weather changed on a dime from sunshine to a whiteout, and Atli remained unˆappable. As night fell and the torrent of snowflakes reflected off of the headlights, he joked that we now know what Hans Solo felt while piloting the Millennium Falcon. Already happy that I wasn't behind the wheel, spying the occasional rental car o‹ the side of the road only deepened my appreciation for our guide. With much of the country sparsely populated, †nding the best lodging options isn't always easy. Classic Journeys carefully vets its hotel partners to make sure they meet exacting standards and contribute to the uniqueness of the experience. "We like to call it 'refraining from sameness,' "explained Edward. Our trip included stays at both Hotel Ranga and Skalakot Manor Hotel. Hotel Ranga is full of quirky personality reflective of its jocular owner, who provided me with my †rst taste of Iceland's Black Death. Contrary to its menacing name and labeling, Black Death, also known as Brennivín, is a popular traditional distilled beverage ˆavored with caraway, and not the plague. A short walk from the hotel is a cabin with a retractable roof and a high-tech telescope, allowing you to ogle the night sky in a whole new way. If Ralph Lauren designed a hotel in Iceland, it would surely resemble the chic Skálkot Manor Hotel. Set on a working multi- generational family farm with sheep, cuddly Icelandic horses, and miles of trails for exploring. Spending one afternoon on horseback, we spied the snow-capped "tongue" of a nearby glacier that seemed to lap at hills de†ned by tu‹ets of straw-colored grass that proved irresistible to my steed. I made judicious use of free time in the itinerary by taking a canyon hike and later a run to a waterfall, where I relished in being its solitary admirer. "e window of opporrunity to see the Northern Lights is typically late August through late April. Photo courtesy of Classic Journeys 37

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