Another day another throwback. This time, Iceland!
Here we are. Iceland. One of the most anticipated, exciting legs of our journey. A place we were both so keen to be in, explore and love. The beginning of our European adventures, yet a place so unique to anything I’ve ever experienced before. A place so beautiful, I don’t think the next paragraphs will ever do it justice. I’m gonna try anyway.
We arrived on this gem of an island bright and early at 7am, after one of the comfiest 7-hour flights I have taken from New York. (Travel tip: Fly Iceland Air). Landing in Iceland was like landing on extra-terrestrial turf. The ground was green, but not the kind of green I’m used to. No, there was no grass, shrubs or bushes surrounding the tarmac. Instead, moss. Moss growing on lava. And lava that stretched right up to the black sand beaches that encompass Iceland. The air was fresh, the sun was hot, but the temperature was low and the wind cold. Iceland’s strange, sulphuric-yet-fresh scent only threw me off-balance even more as we stepped out of the airport and onto an extremely overpriced bus that would drive us to Reykjavik (Ray×ka×vik) (roll your ‘r’s’), the countries capital. This island has a terrain that, on first glance, appears to be completely flat. There would be a few bumps in the ground at random points but nothing more than that. Until a few more kilometres down the road where one, single, lone hill interrupted the flat horizon. A quick glance at my maps would tell me that hill was in-fact a 300m tall volcano. And then another one, not too far from the first. And another. And another. I counted about 15 of these toy-sized volcanoes on our hour long drive from the airport to Reykjavik. Something that messed with my pre-determined assumptions that all volcanoes were as big, if not bigger, than the ones in Indonesia.
We arrived in the city, which looked more like a small town than anything else, slowly dropping off each passenger at their respective hotels and guesthouses before we arrived at our, also extremely over-priced (Jesus help me we’re only an hour in and I’ve already paid way too much) hostel. Reykjavik flaunted its beauty in many different ways. Small, white houses and cottages lined the streets with their brightly coloured roofs, looking more like a scene you’d see on a Greek island. The narrow hilly streets and crisp sea breeze only drew more similarities, but I was drawn to the freshness of this whole city more than anything. Lakes, wetlands and nature reserves dominated the city and its outskirts, and no building was taller than 4 or 5 stories.
With a hungry belly and not much to do until check in at 2pm we set out on foot to the city centre to find a cheap meal. Half an hour passed, then an hour, then two, and no cheap food was eaten. I knew Iceland would be expensive, but there was no way in hell I was paying $20 for a hamburger. I settled for an $8 hotdog. It was a classic Icelandic hotdog, if it makes it any better (it doesn’t). We headed back to the hostel to check in and then headed back out to make the most of the 4 days we had. We had a destination in mind – the ocean – and we had a goal in mind – swim in it. Yes, for a reason I’m unaware of, I proposed we take a dip in the 4-degree Atlantic Ocean. I’m still not sure why Jessie agreed to this in the first place, but a yes was a yes and we headed to one of the few beaches that had golden sand and, a bonus, a geothermal heated pool. The plan? Jump in the freezing sea then run into the hot pool, hopefully without dying of hypothermia in between.
It was cold. Bloody cold. Worth it though. And the hot pool? Hot. Bloody hot! 45 degrees hot, and I felt like a frozen chicken thawing out when I hopped into it. These pools are something that I seriously miss about Iceland.
After a failed attempt at hitchhiking back to our hostel we ate our first cheap dinner (no guesses what it was) (2 minute noodles), planned our next 3 days and fell asleep under the midnight sun. The next day we would set out early to hire a tent, catch a bus down south to Skogafoss and camp out for the night.