Avinash Lohana (MUMBAI MIRROR; January 23, 2017)

The Republic of Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has a population of 332,529 and an area of 103,000 km (40,000 sq mt), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Volcanically and geologically active, the country's interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, with many glacial rivers flowing to the sea through the lowlands. The Icelandic culture is founded upon its Scandinavian heritage and most Icelanders are descendants of Germanic and Gaelic settlers. Here's Disha Patani's insider account...

Ice Ice baby
Iceland is such a natural beauty, absolutely untouched, but very cold. I was there for 10 days in January last year to shoot for Stanley Tong's Kung Fu Yoga with Jackie Chan and it was literally freezing in minus seven degree Celsius. The days are shorter and the nights longer as the sun rises at around 10 am and sets by 4 pm, so we only had a few hours to shoot. Since our hotel, in Meðallandsvegur, was far away from the locations we'd wake up at 3 am to get ready and leave for the destination so we could start filming on time. The snowstorm was a daily challenge, en route the locations.

One of the most beautiful experiences I've had there was going through an underground tunnel to reach an ice cave where we were to shoot. It was a difficult shoot as the ice was melting because of the strong lights. We had to race against time to wrap up as soon as possible. Another time, we were shooting in shallow waters near a small waterfall in the interiors. The scene required me to drag Jackie out of the water across the icy rocks. It was painful but we kept filming through 30 retakes as the cameras would go off because of the extreme cold. Afterwards, we'd pour boiling water over ourselves to ward off frostbite. Jackie would bring baskets full of food and gifts for everyone to cheer us up.

Slept through Northern lights
I did go shopping in a mall when we were in the nation capital Reykjavík for a few hours. It's the largest city in the country. Besides clothes, I also bought miniatures of Viking warriors as mementoes. However, my most precious possession is the jacket that Jackie gifted me there. We also shot at the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and on the Solheimajokull glacier. All you could see was white snow everywhere. I also saw a volcano but from a distance. Northern Lights is one of the biggest tourist draws of Iceland but missed it as I was sleeping after a particularly tiring day. I did get to see it on another day but not too clearly. But I took some pictures with the handsome Icelandic horses. I doubt if anybody rides them as they are really small and mostly used for transportation on farms.

Fresh from the farms
The food in Iceland is delicious and came fresh from the farms. I am a vegetarian but would eat chicken sometimes while I was shooting in China as there were hardly any options there for me. But in Iceland I had a great time binging on rice, beans, fresh fruits, cheese and other dairy products. I don't think they have a cuisine unique to them but I noticed a lot of European influence. My favourite were the Icelandic chocolates. The water is so clean there that we used to directly drink from the tap.

The locals are really sweet and warm enough to help us track locations every time we needed assistance. The international team I worked with was the best ever, too. The women there are really tall and strong; in fact, we had women drivers all during the shoot. It was great fun!