Paola Zanni is the marketing manager in a fragrance company which creates perfumes for famous brands. French, born to a Mexican mother and Italian father, she left Paris to work in Barcelona and rapidly fell for the warm lights of the easy-going seaside city. “It is hard for me to define a single passion because I am so passionate about life and have so many strong feelings. I love everything that touches the senses, all the experiences life can bring you and I am constantly looking for new forms of expression and art. I would say my biggest passion in life is to constantly learn and discover new things. Every form of expression makes me feel more alive.”
We arrived during the night at Reykjavick airport and couldn’t feel anything but the wind; a cold and damp wind that made us realize we had left the Spanish summer for the north, the very north of Europe. It was only on the following day, when we went for a walk around the city, that the small buildings revealed their bright colors. Icelanders were wearing t-shirts and we could recognize the tourists due to their warm outfits and heads covered by beanies. After a few days discovering the city, we woke up early to take a bus that was going to cross the country and bring us to the famous ring road.
It was only on the following day, when we went for a walk around the city, that the small buildings revealed their bright colors.
At this point we began 20 days of travel that took us all around the country. Our itinerary was more or less programmed but we left spaces for possibilities to improvise. We didn’t realize at this time that Iceland has such a huge variety of landscapes to share.
In fact, I found that this majestic country was characterized by its strong contrasts. So many textures, colors, shades and forms alongside one another, creating a wonderful gigantic space. It was a journey of constant surprises; I discovered wild and beautiful landscapes I had never imagined before. Iceland is overflowing with multiple treasures that seem lost in the middle of nowhere, innumerable waterfalls, breathtaking views, cliffs of dizzying height, are only a small part of what makes Iceland so unearthly.
Iceland is overflowing with multiple treasures that seem lost in the middle of nowhere, innumerable waterfalls, breathtaking views, cliffs of dizzying height, are only a small part of what makes Iceland so unearthly.
Iceland is widely known as the land of fire and ice due to the high amount of active volcanos, and imposing glacial borders. While we were there, the famous volcano Bárðarbunga started to erupt, and several roads had been closed due to a possible flood of melted ice coming from the Vatnajökull, Iceland’s most extensive glacier located just north of the choleric volcano.
It felt like one of the few places where nature still seems completely wild and virgin. Even if the number of annual visitors is constantly increasing, Iceland gives you the feeling of being alone in the universe and having the privilege of being able to witness nature in its more primary state, spared of excessive constructions and installations. The elements are also unpredictable. The violent wind, strong rain, impenetrable fog. It is certainly because the elements are difficult to master over there that the mark of the human hand is limited.
“VISIT AT YOUR ON RISK”, is what is written at the entrance to the volcanic areas.
“VISIT AT YOUR ON RISK”, is what is written at the entrance to the volcanic areas. The omnipresent smell of sulfur, the smoky rocks and the very dark stones remind you that the earth underneath your foot is alive and unpredictable. Even if we are conscious that every day brings its own risks, we are nevertheless not used to running these kinds of risks in our often sterile, concrete cities.
Surphur must be Iceland’s own scent, the intense fumes are everywhere. It is quite unbearable at the beginning, but after a few days you get used to it. It comes from the earth in a gaseous state, as an opaque and dense white steam. Natural baths, hot springs or even the tap water release this strong odor that has become for me, the olfactive signature of Iceland.
Another point which caught my attention during this journey was the silence and the loneliness in which we had been immersed.
One day, we decided to hike the trails from Krafla to the center of Myvatn. We walked for 6 hours in the middle of a stretch of dry lava and didn’t meet anybody the whole of the way. Deep silence was occasionally interrupted by the vibrations of the strong wind. Lulled by the latter, we were progressing alone surrounded by a black and imposing porous rock. Almost at the end of our hike, while the sunset revealed beautiful colors, we saw the silhouette of two people in the other side of the mountain. They made emphatic gestures and we were excited by finally finding a human presence. We replied with our own vigorous signals and we were smiling, even if we knew they couldn’t see our faces from where they were.
Almost at the end of our hike, while the sunset revealed beautiful colors, we saw the silhouette of two people in the other side of the mountain.
In Iceland, at certain points, you experience a beautiful loneliness. Beautiful, because it is not the kind of loneliness which makes you suffer, but one that make you think – the kind that exposes you to yourself. Loneliness makes you face your own fears, makes you trust in yourself and the person with whom you share your journey. I was feeling relieved in the middle of this emptiness. Although Iceland has few inhabitants, it is the country with the most writers per capita and we could easily understand why. One in 10 people will publish a book. I believe the endless nature inspires and develops your creativity.
Jökulsárlón is a jewel. A beach covered by ephemeral sculptures made of ice similar to a multitude of diamonds whose transparency and brightness contrasts with the dark black sand. These huge ice blocks coming from the glacier above were arranged according to their order of arrival. Sometimes we were surprised by the unpredictable noise of ice cracking, a reminder that this unique landscape is in constant evolution. In fact, melted by the sun and carved by the constant movements of the sea, these stranded blocks of ice change every day.
Sometimes we were surprised by the unpredictable noise of ice cracking, a reminder that this unique landscape is in constant evolution.
From Dettifoss, through the burning Gueysir and the mysterious beach of Vik, I was taken aback by these natural black and white landscapes. So many contrasted textures and opposite colors in perfect harmony.
The most peaceful country plunges you into a captivating world of indefinable bliss and inner peace. Nature’s vibrations can deliver a unique feeling of fullness and harmony. Maybe it is because we all belong to nature? The fact is that I had never before breathed so deeply and serenely than in this open space which seemed endless; much wider than anything my eyes had previously taken in. Nature is the symbol of development, of perpetual renewal of life and I felt the need to catch its beauty, in constant evolution, by photographing everything attracting my eyes.
The fact is that I had never before breathed so deeply and serenely than in this open space which seemed endless; much wider than anything my eyes had previously taken in.
It is an experience of patience, humility and respect. The notion of time and speed changes. It is a time for introspection, contemplation and reflection. The feeling of having my mind and body oxygenated followed me a long time after I returned home. The suffocating planned city life and the ‘to do lists’ vanish and allow you to reconnect with the Essential.
It is impossible to be insensitive to this Silent Beauty.