A voyage of happiness
Porsche Travel Experience Iceland
Lava fields, steaming hot springs and geysers as high as houses. A thousand kilometres in a 911 across Iceland, one of earth’s happiest and most spectacular places
The most peaceful country on earthThere is much to say about Iceland and, without exception, it is all positive – the most peaceful country on earth, unbelievably diverse nature, a cosmopolitan population, peace-loving and, especially, weather-beaten. Iceland is a unique promise of happiness, perfectly balanced between tradition and innovation – making it the perfect travel destination for the Porsche Travel Experience.On the afternoon of arrival, all conversation revolves around one subject – the weather – and it is not because of the participants’ awkwardness. The participants’ mobile phones together have a dozen different weather apps and each one of them is producing a different forecast than the last. Icelandic weather is not interested in meteorological offices and science; Icelandic weather is free-spirited and nonconformist. It happily escalates things a notch only to slip calmly back to normal just a few moments later.
Icelandic weather is free-spirited and nonconformist
Icelandic weather is free-spirited and nonconformist
The Harpa offers an outstanding design and viewThe team heads out by foot towards the harbour after introductions. At some point the Harpa concert building, designed designed by world-renowned Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson and the new landmark of Reykjavik, rises from behind a hill. In the dusk light of the early evening, the interplay of colours on the impressive glass facade shows what to expect over the coming days. Yet Harpa is astounding in ways beyond its exterior, too. At dinner inside the concert hall, gazes turn towards the harbour, sea and distant, towering mountains visible behind the glass walls.
The Harpa concert building, designed by artist Ólafur Elíasson
The Harpa concert building, designed by artist Ólafur Elíasson
Typical habits of Iceland’s inhabitantsA very special presentation is served as an appetiser, tellingly entitled 'How to become Icelandic in 30 minutes'. Delivered with comical flair, the amused listeners learn more about the typical habits of Iceland’s inhabitants, why most of the stereotypes relate to the country and not the people and what makes a true Icelander. Fantastic entertainment, a tad over the top and laden with sarcastic undertones but without coming across as spiteful or insulting – true art. The Porsche Travel Experience participants head back to the hotel full of inspiration.Guided tour around Reykjavik metropolitan areaThe first item on the next day’s agenda is a tour of Reykjavik. The weather, full of Icelandic warmth, decides to greet us with a storm, yet the eccentric weather is forgotten after just a few minutes’ walk. Considerably more worthy of amazement are the attractions of Iceland’s picturesque capital city. Roughly 200,000 people live in the Reykjavik metropolitan area, almost two thirds of all Icelanders. They know how to make things look good, too: pastel-coloured houses, clean high streets and interiors designed in Scandinavian style.
Scandinavian style meets the Porsche 911
Icelandic style meets the Porsche 911
The Harpa concert building greets us for the second time after a solid hour of exploration. Designed as an homage to the landscape and diverse colours of Iceland, Harpa at this moment is one thing above all: the perfect background for the eight 911s lined up in front of the gleaming glass facade and adding another few touches to Harpa’s colour mix. Now there is nothing left to do other than step in, start the engine and become one with the car and Iceland.
Perfect background for the eight 911s, lined up in front of the Harpa concert building
Perfect background for a 911
Departure into the impressive nature of IcelandNot even half an hour after setting out from Harpa, and after passing about a dozen roundabouts, the convoy leaves Reykjavik and enters nature. 'Nature', in Iceland, is in no way related to what is usually passed off as nature elsewhere. In Iceland it is cliff-dominated coasts, lava fields coated in moss, colourful and dazzling fissures, lake scenery as far as the eye can see, steaming hot springs, geysers stretching into the sky and snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Calling any of these majestic spectacles breathtaking would be an understatement.
Nature in Iceland
Nature – and road – in Iceland
The cars glide along, alternating between perfectly constructed roads and gravel tracks – with completely surreal surroundings. They stick to the asphalt and sprint up small hills to allow a full vista when coming back down, taking bends smoothly and ever so slightly pushing their drivers back into comfortable seats when overtaking lorries and vans. It once again becomes clear that Porsche aims to build more than the world’s best sports car – it aims to build the ideal travel companion.
Iceland’s dark grey and green lava
Iceland’s dark grey and green lava
Today’s first stop is the Reykjanes peninsula. The group stands atop a hill and lets their gaze descend to a turbulent lake. The dark grey and green lava rock surrounding it provides the perfect contrast to the glowing colours of the cars. The next stop – the next world – takes less than 20 minutes’ drive. Here the ground is fissured, with steam rising upwards from the metre-wide crevices. The Seltún geothermal area: a fairy tale sight. It would hardly surprise anyone if a mythical creature emerged from the fog and casually nodded towards the visitors.
Iceland’s landscape is the perfect contrast to the colours of the cars
Iceland’s landscape is the perfect contrast to the colours of the cars
Hellisheiði – the world’s largest geothermal power plantsAfter an hour, the Hellisheiði geothermal power station and its towering columns of water vapours suddenly beckon from a distance. Built in 2006, it is Iceland’s largest power plant and also one of the world’s largest geothermal plants. The hot water from here supplies all of Reykjavik, while a significant proportion of the capital’s power is produced here, too. The operators conduct a tour and convey a credible impression that a climate action revolution is in progress at this very location in Iceland. Inspired by this great amount of engineering excellence, the travel group sets out in the direction of Thingvellir for the day’s final stop.
The Hellisheiði geothermal power station
The Hellisheiði geothermal power station
Thingvellir island’s most important tourist attractionsThe Thingvellir car park is situated almost directly on top of adjoining tectonic plates. This is where the North-American and Eurasian tectonic plates drift up to four centimetres apart each year. It also served as the meeting place of the Icelandic parliament in the years from 930 to 1798. Norwegian Vikings assembled every June for two weeks to pass new laws and settle matters of court. The Republic of Iceland was proclaimed at this historic site on 17 June 1944, which now counts among the island’s most important tourist attractions.A promise that simply cannot be keptWith so many astounding sights just on the first day alone, one is inevitably struck by the thought that Iceland could, alongside the Icelandic krona, introduce a second currency – the memory card. Each and every participant has already taken hundreds of photographs and, later at the night’s accommodation at the Eldar Lodge, promises to start using their storage more sparingly. An optimistic intention, seeing as just the lodgings themselves provide sufficient subjects for numerous photographs. The Eldar Lodge is not a typical hotel and is rather more of a home in the best possible sense of the word. Surrounded by volcanic rock and a seemingly endless expanse of terrain, the ambience also swallows up any remaining bit of everyday mundanity that may have been hiding at the back of one’s mind. After bathing in a typical Icelandic hot tub and dining on a feast prepared by the lodge’s own chef, the day wraps up in front of the fireplace.In return, nature promises the most beautiful works of artThe next morning, the convoy switches to sports mode and accelerates into a day of activities. The next highlight of the trip is already waiting – a helicopter flight over Icelandic glacier formations, with gigantic boulders of ice jutting out towards the sky like modern works of art. The pilot talks about one of his life’s personal highlights during the flight. Years ago, he took part in a Porsche advertisement. It involved him chasing a 911 across a racetrack in his helicopter – unsuccessfully, of course.
911 Convoy_Iceland
Convoy on the way to the next highlight (911 Carrera S: Fuel consumption* combined 10,0-9,6 l/100 km; CO2 emissions* combined 227-220 g/km)
His landing after flying over the glacier, on the other hand, is anything but unsuccessful. Now the trip is continuing to the neighbouring expanses of snow via snowmobile. The skids glide crackling over the white ground and a feeling of weightlessness sets in. The Langjökull glacier, at roughly 953 square kilometres, is the second-largest glacier in Iceland and its blue cracks and crevices prove once again that nature still creates the most beautiful works of art.
Gulfoss waterfall
Gulfoss waterfall
Yet nature can do other things, too. The nearby Gulfoss waterfall makes it clear what a true force of nature looks like in the form of thick clouds of spray. Just a moment after, only a few kilometres further away, Geysir – what may be Iceland’s biggest tourist attraction – shoots out of a hole in the ground towards the sky. And between these sights? Repeatedly marvellous drives through lava fields and past crystal-clear mountain lakes. Here it is as if the roads were made for quick bursts of acceleration with a level of torque that is more or less certain to release an endorphin or two. At the end of this day of activities, the night’s accommodation at the Eldar Lodge proves for a second time that it has earned its place among the few places in the world where a night’s stay is truly needed at least once in life.
Experience_expance_is_a_promise_Image_13_Geysir in Iceland one of biggest tourist attractions
Geysir – one of Iceland’s biggest tourist attractions
Off to Snaefellsnes peninsula – an insider tipWell-rested and fully ready for the day, the Porsche enthusiasts set out the next day for the sparsely populated Snaefellsnes peninsula located 200 kilometres to the north-west – an insider tip. The peninsula is a small area where all forms of the Icelandic landscape can be experienced. It is for this reason that Snæfellsnes is often called 'Iceland in Miniature'. Tonight’s accommodation, the Hótel Búðir, lies surrounded by the mountains towering in the background and flat grazing land for sheep and Icelandic horses. Exotic birds perform their air show above the neighbouring coastline. The scenery makes it hard to believe that the world has not stopped and an alternative reality taken over.Travelling Iceland with the Porsche is too beautiful to be true. But it is true. At some point on the third day of the Porsche Travel Experience, Esaam, an ophthalmologist from Florida, manages to summarise it perfectly: "Everything about this trip is top-notch – the cars, our hotel rooms, the food cooked by top chefs and an expert at every attraction to guide us and tell us the things not found in any guidebook. On top of that, every stop of the journey has been planned down to the final detail. This is the perfect travel experience. In America, we call that a home run!"
Everything about this trip is top-notch – the cars, our hotel rooms, the food cooked by top chefs and an expert at every attraction … In America, we call that a home run!
Esaam | Participant from Florida
Onward journey to the northThe next morning, we begin with a trip along the coastal road. The sea is still calmly asleep and dark blue while the wind is only just starting to pick up. The stretches of land beside the road shimmer in tones of beige and brown and, where the sun’s rays hit the earth, it glows in such an impressive gold that it acts as an invitation to stop for a moment and soak it up as a souvenir. But who is able to stop right now when the next double bend reveals a view of a mountain landscape that looks as if it has leaped directly out of a fantasy world?
Porsche – the ideal travel companion
Porsche – the ideal travel companion
Above the eight bolides in automotive form, whose sound now reverberates throughout waterfall gorges, Iceland demonstrates how many different degrees of cloud cover are possible. Over the duration of one week, not one cloud formation has repeated itself, with the sky reclothing itself every minute for what seems to be a constant festive occasion somewhere in the distant horizon. For the Porsche Travel Experience, precisely this distant horizon is the promise for many further kilometres of goosebump-inducing driving.Last leg of the tour, to Akureyri – history of fishing in IcelandThis leg of the trip ends in a picturesque small town by the name of Siglufjörður, where the Sigló Hótel is waiting. From the suites with Scandinavian interiors, the participants’ gazes sweep across the harbour facilities and the mountains wrapping around the location. This spectacle alone is pure pleasure. After a short walk through the harbour, the travel group reaches the Herring Era Museum, Iceland’s largest maritime museum. It is a place where the visitor can marvel over the long history of fishing in Iceland as well as the wonderfully restored, antique fishing boats. The day of course needs to end with a quintessentially Icelandic dinner, featuring marine delicacies served directly in the museum.
The Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður
The Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður
With the trip back towards Reykjavik looming the next day, the Porsche Travel Experience participants head out to sea before leaving. The day’s programme includes a speedboat tour of the whales splashing about in front of the coast. The group is quickly reminded that high speeds can be attained off the road too, as they look at the sea and coastline. The boat speeds through the waves seemingly weightlessly and creates those butterflies that Porsche drivers know only too well.Describing all the highlights of the Porsche Travel Experience Iceland produces more of a novel rather than a trip report. It includes, for example, the legendary Drangey island, guarded by a cliff at the front which is allegedly a petrified troll. Or the small bite of Icelandic speciality hákarl – fermented Greenland shark – often served with fresh bread. Or Akureyri, the undebatable capital of the north and destination of the very last leg of the tour. For a long time, Akureyri, with almost 19,000 inhabitants, was Iceland’s second-largest city. Today it is possibly its most beautiful. One last look is taken of the eight Porsche cars in front of the town’s small airport before heading back to Reykjavik by charter flight.Closing of a memorable week – time to reflect on the last daysHowever, before the Porsche Travel Experience Iceland participants board their flights back to their home countries from Keflavik, Iceland’s largest airport, there still needs to be time to sit back and reflect on the experiences had over the last few days. Where better to do that than on a retreat? However, it is not any old wellness hotel that is going to conclude this trip to Iceland. The participants head to The Retreat at Blue Lagoon, a masterpiece of architecture. Opened in 2018 and built on an 800-year-old lava field directly beside the world-famous Blue Lagoon, it has already gained various design and architecture awards. The timeless interior, private access to the Blue Lagoon, outstanding cuisine and rooms with unspoilt views of the lava landscape make the time here an unforgettable experience as unique as the week just passed.
Wellness Hotel the Retreat at Blue Lagoon
Wellness hotel the Retreat at Blue Lagoon – a masterpiece of architecture
Iceland truly has everything – except trees. There is an Icelandic joke: "What should you do if you get lost in the forest? Stand up." When standing up, one’s view becomes dominated most of all by the expanse, and expanse – seen through the windscreen of a Porsche – is always a promise. The beauty of Iceland cannot be felt from the window of a coach or on a walk through a small parcel of land. It needs to be experienced mile by mile, quite literally. Only when the landscape is changing its face, colours and shapes – its entire essence – every couple of minutes can it be understood how much of a wondrous corner of the earth this island is.
Architecural highlight
Wellness hotel the Retreat at Blue Lagoon – timeless exterior architecture
At the beginning of the Porsche Travel Experience Iceland, the question was how this destination could satisfy everyone’s high expectations. How could a sparsely populated island at the top of the world harbour so much to yearn for? For all intents and purposes, it would have to sink into the sea fizzling under all these expectations and the burden placed on it. However, Iceland is not sinking. To the contrary, Iceland occupies a perky position in the Atlantic Ocean and happily receives the visitors that increase in numbers with every year. Proud Iceland, strong Iceland, gorgeous Iceland. The Porsche Travel Experience will come again. See you very soon!
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