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They call Iceland the land of fire and ice. It's a phrase I knew, was familiar with, and even used on an Instagram photo or two from my two week jaunter through the country a year and a half earlier. It's a phrase that sounds dramatic, maybe a little unrealistic, but suiting of a place with active volcanos and Europe's largest ice cap. Even still, until you wake up in the cutest northern city anywhere in the world, maybe, again a little dramatic, of Akureyri and get a text to your Icelandic phone number from Iceland's ministry of health to turn up the heat and stay inside with the windows closed because of high pollution values, namely sulfur dioxide, which made it legitimately painful to breath, emanating from Bárðarbunga, a volcano that has been erupting five months strong now, it never quite felt real. So when you're out at midnight, pulled over on the side of a highway covered in compact snow and ice (special thanks to all the wonderful locals who stopped to make sure I was fine) watching the glow of the northern lights above, very clearly, Bárðarbunga exploding with lava which now covers 85 square kilometres, it really finally gives feeling to 'the land of fire and ice'.

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