Takk, Iceland!

Takk, Iceland!

What a blessing to be able to visit this magical land of ice, glaciers, volcanos, thermal springs and “viks,” or bays. From the first aerial darshan via the flight in from Copenhagen, I was gawking out the window like a child–wow! Glaciers spilling into lakes alongside the ocean, huge expanses of landmass covered in endless sheets of snow and ice–truly stunning. And that was craning my neck from the aisle seat, not even a clear window view.

I’m here at the invitation of my friend (and fellow Shyamdas alum) Saraswati Om, a lifelong yogi and healthy nutrition wali who I met years back while we were both on the Shyam parade. She lived for ages in Syracuse NY but after years of journeys to Iceland she met and married a local Viking from Reykjavik and moved to Iceland a few years ago.

Upon landing, Saraswati brought me straight to the famous Blue Lagoon for a soak in the healing waters of this special place–and what a great way to land. Some highlights follow:

Day 1: after taking rest the first evening here during some of the few dark hours in mid-May, we began the programs. I sang one chant to open Saraswati’s noon sound bath session at Moar Studio–one of her favorite spaces here in Reykjavik. Then in the evening we went to the Yoga Shala space and I led a full kirtan program with about 40 guests, with Saraswati closing us with a brief crystal bowl bath, where I drifted deep into inner space. Super nice evening.

Day 2: After sleeping in a bit, I had lunch with a couple of locals, one of whom came to the chant session last night and is interesting in joining my curated pilgrimage to India in January 2025. She and her family actually live in Eastern Iceland, out on a big expanse of “the nature” as they say here, where they run a couple of guest houses for global visitors–it sounds amazing there. We ate downtown at Mama’s, a sweet little vibey vegetarian juice bar and restaurant, then wandered down picturesque Laugavegur Street, past a bunch of sweet local shops, with the ocean visible down each side street. Felt very homey, and welcoming. Then back home for a brief rest, before driving out to the Hvammsvik hot springs on the gorgeous Whale Fjord less than an hour’s drive northwest of town–which was apparently named the “Number one best thing to do in the world 2023” by Time Out Magazine. Worth every one of the 5900 Icelandic Krona entry price–about US $40.

Tonight the Earth was being bathed in what was being described as the largest magnetic storm from the most epic coronal mass ejection from the sun in two decades–so the world was reporting fantastic Aurora Borealis effects even in relatively southern latitudes, and we were hoping for a real light show here! Except: a) it barely gets dark enough at night now (4 hours of dark, but not true pitch dark even at this almost new moon time), and b) in a taste of New England, it was overcast, grey and drizzly all day and night. Alas! Still, a magical evening… capped off by some great home cooking of green curried veg as the midnight darkness finally wrapped us up…

Day 3: Tonight we sang again at another studio here, Leiden Heim Holistic Center. Just opened a year ago, it was clean and open and beautifully appointed, a lovely space to drop in deep with the small group of souls who came in for a deep dive into Bhakti. But first, the day’s adventures took me out to an amazing thermal spring area called Krysuvik, an incredible area with mineral-rich water literally boiling out of the ground, in in case bubbling up more than a foot high like soup brought to a high boil. I’ve never seen anything like it! And surrounded by stark, stony gorgeous mountain ridges on all sides as we drove, punctuated by the occasion frigid lake, surfaces buffeted by wind and into swiftly lapping waves.

Day 4: Today was dosas for Sunday brunch, followed by further explorations into the nature… Drove out towards the Whale Fjord, then hung a right and kept on driving for several hours, first visiting Oxararfoss, a waterfall rushing over a meeting of tectonic plates, continuing past Iceland’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Thingvallavatn (the “Th” is actually a whole ‘mother letter, unavailable on my humble keyboard).

We continued on for a quick darshan in the cold, wind-swept lashing rain at Bruarfoss, a raging blue glacial river storming past a small bridge in the foothills, then cruised onwards until finding Hrunalaug, a small family farm-run hot spring, where we soaked for an hour while the falling raindrops made psychedelic patterns as the droplets rose above the surface and played before our eyes. Overall, a wonderful day of exploring this gorgeous southern Iceland region.

I had one more day in town, interviewing Saraswati for my soon-to-come Shyamcast podcast sharing the music, life and times of Shyamdas, an American Bhakta, and reorienting myself for the next day’s trip to Denmark. I look forward to returning to Iceland with even more time to explore!

 

 

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