Welcome to the Travel Issue
Emily C. Skaftun
Norwegian American Weekly
As you, dear readers, are holding this paper in your hands or gazing at these pixels, I myself am actually traveling. Hello from Iceland!
Of course, as I write this I am sitting at my desk in our chilly office in Seattle, only thinking about Iceland, about travel. My traveling partners and I have done a lot of planning (mostly them, honestly, thank Odin for them), but there are still details to pin down, cabs to the airport to hire, exchange rates to consider, packing to do (oh god, the packing—what does one need for January in Iceland? By the time you read this I’ll know the answer to that, and will hopefully have been prepared enough).
I love to travel. I’m sure that most of you do too. Going somewhere new is always an adventure, and my husband and I are quite grateful that we’ve made new friends who love it as much as we do. We’ve been to Alaska, the Yucatan, and Cuba with them, so when I saw a suspiciously cheap deal from Icelandair and suggested this trip, they didn’t blink at the thought of a winter trip far to the Iceland—a place we’ve all visited before, separately, during warmer times.
Our trip was during much warmer times, about a week from summer solstice, and the twilighty dark only lingered a couple of hours after the sun went sliding sideways to the horizon. I loved it. Sleep felt optional and the mossy land felt full of magic. This time we’ll begin with about three hours of daylight, gaining to four by the end of the week. We hope to see the Northern Lights, which would be a new experience for me. We hope we don’t freeze, though we’re cautiously optimistic based on the average highs for January (around freezing in Reykjavik—in other words, not worse than Chicago, two of whose winters I survived). We hope to experience some of the “hyggelig” aspects of a Nordic winter. And though we booked the trip before Bárðarbunga started erupting, we’ve since planned to fly over it. Lava!
It was a surprise even to myself that I made the suggestion to return to Iceland. I don’t typically prefer re-visiting a place I’ve seen when there are so many other places I haven’t. But a change of seasons in this case makes it almost a whole new place. A change of company does as well.
But in a sense it doesn’t matter where one goes when traveling. Booking a trip is an act of faith, an investment in the future, and powerful medicine. Knowing we have something to look forward to has certainly improved our outlook these past months. Even fantasizing about a trip can be relaxing.
This issue is all about travel. To Norway, from Norway, and beyond. Virtual travel. Pioneers of travel. Whether you have a trip planned or just like thinking about them, we hope you enjoy it. And if you do go somewhere, send us a postcard! (7301 5th Ave. NE, Suite A, Seattle, WA 98115). Yours doesn’t have to be as weird as mine (but it could be).
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.