Natural Wonders

My boyfriend’s dream holiday to Iceland was my idea of a nightmare

Terence insists that we drag ourselves across the Kaldidalur Corridor, once an ancient horse route across a barren lunar landscape. By the time we reach our next hotspot, I am barely sentient, while Geography Boy is positively erect. A gigantic waterfall/collection of springs, Hraunfossar is a mass of creeks and cascades streaming out of the edge of a lava field over a distance of about 3,000ft. Think: froth, crystalline waters, and middle-aged men over-compensating with gigantic camera lenses. It’s fine, as nature goes, impressive even. Nearby is another famous fall called Barnafoss (children’s fall). I become vaguely interested in a story about two nippers who skipped church at Christmas to topple in, thus giving the place its name. I can relate. I do a spot of staring into space, while Terence races up and down gasping.

That evening, we receive news that I have run up a £1,500 mobile bill over 36 hours. This is not, in fact, a testament to how little I enjoy nature, but to my having inadvertently “harnessed a satellite” care of EE. A period of heated telephone exchanges commences. Happily, we have checked into the Hotel Husafell, a highland haven where there is enough topography for Terence and sufficient civilisation for me. Modish Nordic simplicity abounds, from the modern furnishings to the work by artist-in-almost-residence Páll Guðmundsson. I almost weep when we sit down to Icelandic cod, parsnip purée, pecans, oyster mushrooms and sea buckthorn, followed by cherry and bergamot sorbet. Back in our room, there’s an alarm one can activate to alert sleeping residents to the presence of the northern lights.

Next morning, I slumber blissfully on, while Terence marches off for a highland hike, including the requisite waterfall and dip in a hot spring. Guide Olga tells the tale of local glacier Okjokull. Ok, it turned out, was not OK – rather Iceland’s first glacier claimed by climate change: “The glacier died. We had a funeral. Some of the farmers think it shall return.” Terence himself returns with tales of mountains named after whales, and goatskins roasted by Daenerys’s dragons. He has started saying: “Hay-low” in a sing-song Nordic accent.


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