Polly Bowen has been to Iceland – twice.

She went for the first time in June 2012, with the second trip in December 2016. What she experienced during those two visits was similar in some ways, but being at different times of the year meant encountering different types of weather and therefore experiencing different activities and places.

“Iceland is a beautiful place,” said Bowen, who spoke about her experiences during a travel series presentation offered Feb. 12 at the Redwood Falls Public Library.

Whether it was whitewater rafting, walking behind a waterfall, hiking on a glacier or sampling shark meat, Bowen said the experiences one has in a place like Iceland are unforgettable.

“This is a place everyone should visit,” said Bowen.

While many who go to Iceland experience what is known as the Ring Road, an opportunity to see the beauty that is the coastline of the island, others, like Bowen, opt for the inland experience. 

“When I travel I like to do adventures that are more active,” said Bowen.

That means going on a lot of hikes, and Bowen said during her most recent trip that meant walking about five or six miles each day.

Bowen said when she travels she goes with a tour group, adding, however, the groups she is part of are typically 16 or fewer people.

“That way you get more attention and get to do more things,” she said.

Historically, Iceland has been known as a place for fishing and farming, said Bowen, but in more recent years the country has diversified its economy to include more financial and technology industries. However, fishing and agriculture are still a big part of the economy.

In many of the places Bowen visited, the terrain is more stark and rugged, but the scenes one experiences are amazing. Just seeing all of the waterfalls in Iceland is worth the trip, said Bowen.

A lot of the interior of Iceland is volcanic and geo-thermal in nature. That means geysers, hot springs and thermal pools. The Blue Lagoon, a thermal pool, is a great experience, said Bowen, adding that was one of the places she visited on both visits to Iceland.

“The Blue Lagoon is a must place to stop,” said Bowen.

Bowen hiked through a lava tunnel, visited a shark museum where she sampled shark meat (something Bowen said she only did once) and made stops at Iceland’s national parks.

Bowen said Iceland is powered with renewable energy offered through its geothermal and hydroelectric resources. During her 2012 visit, Bowen was able to do some whale watching.

As one who also enjoys geocaching as part of any trip she takes, Bowen enjoys the chance to look for those caches people have set up in different locations.

“I always bring my GPS with me,” she said.

The people of Iceland are extremely friendly, said Bowen. Bowen said describing some of the places and even showing pictures of them really does not do them justice.

“These are things you just have to see for yourself to really understand what I am talking about,” she said. “You just have to be there.”