Skimming low over the wide expanse of the Arctic in a Cessna, climbing over snow-covered volcanoes in a wide-tyred Landy or behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 drifting boldly towards the Arctic Ocean – Iceland in winter is a tremendous adventure. We drove round the island in three days and covered 1,600 kilometres for our Sleeping Beauties project.
We at Curves preferred to travel anti-cyclical. When the last snow cannon in the Alps has ended its battle with spring and friends with a sense of mission are sharing their first Instagram photos showing them wearing sunglasses in the street cafes of Bologna or of the Riva exit on Lake Garda, the veteran non-conformist knows when it’s time to take off in the opposite direction. Way up north where ice and snow still control the world, you can then experience the forces of nature in all their frozen splendour – and say farewell to winter in a befitting way with a huge cloud of powder snow. Iceland is less than four hours away from Munich. But in spite of this, this rock on the edge of the polar circle is as strange and fantastic as the ice planet Hoth from Star Wars. It is a great help therefore when you have friends on the spot not only share your passion for fast cars and crazy road trips, but are also capable of finding their way to the most exciting places on the island in the eternal twilight and under a metre thick snow cover. And it‘s even better when these friends of yours just happen to own a pilot‘s licence, fly shortfall flights for Iceland Air and can pick you up quite nonchalantly in Munich with their Boeing. The Icelandic experience begins on the flight of course when switch on the inflight radio and – instead of the expected mainstream playlist – you get to hear the most laid-back electronic bleeps and twangs of the musical avant-garde from Reykjavik. The name of the world’s coolest airline (okay, besides Yeti Air in Kathmandu) should really be Iceland Air, that’s for sure.
Having landed in Keflavik, there is unfortunately no time to check out the newly discovered musical sounds in the numerous bars and clubs of “Smoky Bay” – because the engines are already being warmed up for our expedition into the white nothingness. While Iceland in summer, with its eternal sun, lush green fields and unbelievable contrasts, will blow your mind away, in winter it is endless expanse of white, and one never knows where the land ends and the sky begins, and which seems to swallow up everything that lives. Just twice a day, when the sun is standing at such an angle that the particles in the air and the synapses in your head begin to dance, is the white nothingness bathed in a palette of psychedelic colours.
And as far as the upcoming physical trial of strength is concerned, our friends certainly delivered on their promises: we assess the snow-covered terrain initially from the cockpit of a small 1953-built Cessna, as our pilot flies low across the seemingly endless countryside. The tough-looking wide tyres of the Landy we hire later to take us into unknown territory would also look good on the NASA Rover that was used for the Mars mission and don’t seem to be carrying things at all too far as we plunge down the steep slopes of a volcano doing our own version of an off-piste slalom. And what else would you expect for a Curves drive taking place 2,500 kilometres north-west of Zuffenhausen? Yes indeed, they do have a Porsche or two on hand. It is still one of the greatest of pleasures to go drifting behind the wheel of a good old 911, with seems as if it was built for a wild ride on the mirror-like terrain along the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
We cover no less than 1,600 kilometres in three days, slipping, sliding and drifting – once around the island. Route 1 takes us from Reykjavík to Akureyri, Egilsstaðir and Höfn and then to Selfoss. And once again, after spending long days in ice and snow, it is the friendly people from Iceland Air who provide us with accommodation in their cosy hotels away from the ring road. And as quickly as it took us to arrive in this surreal winter wonderland, we find ourselves just as quickly sitting in the aircraft again on our way back to Munich. The island disappears in the darkness of the Arctic Ocean to the sound of the latest bleeps and clicks from the in-flight radio. What remains are images of impressive clarity – memories of delightful butterflies in the stomach while freeriding on the snow-covered volcano in an all-wheel-drive Landy.
(c) Text: Jan Baedeker, Fotos: Stefan Bogner, Michael Daiminger