Ready for some deep worldly thoughts? We live in this huge, vast world with so much land and water. Yet, we could go to any teeny, tiny speck on the earth’s map and find an insane amount of culture, history, scenery, and beauty within that very small area. This thought occurred to me as we drove the mere five square miles that make up Heimaey, the main island of the Westman Islands (small group of islands off the south coast of Iceland).
If we’re being honest, I would eat, live, and breathe new adventures and places if it were possible. So when I was preparing to go to Iceland and my good friend Ann Peters said “Hey, do you want to visit the Westman Islands while you’re here?” My instant reply was “DUH.”
I imagine one of the reasons travel is so powerful is because it appeals to all of our senses. Sight, sound, smells, taste (ohhhh the taste), and touch. However, history always seemed to come last for me. As a child and teenager, I wanted everything to do with the five senses while traveling, but the history was an afterthought. As an adult, the history is often the first thing I seek out when I venture to new lands. I want to know the how, when, and whys of what made that particular culture into what it is today. This little island may be small, but it has a lot of history packed into it.
The name of the islands, Vestmannaeyjar, originates from a time when some Irish slaves fled to the islands after killing their master on mainland Iceland. The master’s brother wanted to avenge his brother’s death, so he hunted down the slaves and killed them. Wow. That kind of feels like a real life Game of Thrones, eh? The original Icelanders called Irish immigrants West Men, so the islands became the Westman Islands.
On a little less bloody note, but just as crazy and tragic, Eldfell volcano erupted without warning the morning of 1973. On an island that is only 5 square miles, that’s a pretty massive event. Luckily, the winds were in their favor and blew most of the fire and ash away from the city. All but 500 (who chose to stay) of the 4,500 inhabitants were transported off the island safely. When all was said and done, the volcano erupted for six months, destroyed one third of the homes, expanded the island by two kilometers, and ash covered most of the island. As I stood at various locations across the island, it was almost impossible to imagine this perfectly clean and beautiful island was submerged under ash 45 years earlier.
The history is so interesting.
But let’s talk now about that SCENERY.
True to the rest of Iceland’s stunning landscapes, the few miles that make up Westman Islands was SPECTACULAR. Arriving by ferry, we were greeted with huge mountainous cliffs rising above the water. We pulled into a small, colorful port surrounded by an even more colorful city. As we drove the perimeter of the island, we saw black rock beaches, stunning cliffs, the famous Iceland green grass and moss covering the mountainsides, overlooking views of the island and ocean, grass covered houses, lava fields, and of course, that crazy volcano that changed the island forever in 1973. Oh yeah, and don’t forget those magical, adorable Icelandic puffins, sheep, and horses. Seriously, time to go google them all if you haven’t seen them.
My good friends, David and Ann, are amazing adventure friends and we explored and played all over the island for a few days. It was only the year before that my hubs and I were photographing and filming their Elopement in Lofoten Islands, Norway. So it only seemed fitting that we do an adventure anniversary shoot a little over a year later in an equally beautiful place, right?
The elements were a bit angry the weekend were were on the island. But David and Ann, being wedding photographers themselves, sucked it up and ran around like it was the middle of summer! Note to future clients…sometimes we’re hit with unfavorable weather and I absolutely understand that didn’t go with your vision for your shoot or wedding day. But a few minutes of cold (or rain or snow) will equal a lifetime of amazing memories! Amiright??
Sit back, relax, and and enjoy David and Ann, their love, and the beauty of my new earthly discovery. Taken straight from Ann’s blog, I love this quote and think it describes them perfectly :)
“Our love is the thrill of adventurous exploration with no fear of being lost because I will always have your hand to hold.” – Leo Christopher
Ok, let’s pause what we’re doing and take a quick second to admire ALL the lovely elements here. Ann herself, her dress, the light, the wind, and the background. I could die. She teases me because I’m always saying, “leave your hair down! Let the wind do it’s thing!” It’s not often you get the perfect amount and speed of wind :)