I love seeing landscapes that seem not from this planet. The colours, the landforms, sometimes just the absence of people. That’s one of my favourite things about travelling. Myvatn is one such place, completely alien, and absolutely a must-see.
Seyðisfjörður, on the far east coast of Iceland, was a ghost town. A low fog had settled on the streets, whiting out the backdrop and limiting visibility to just the few houses around us. On a clear day, we might have seen tall, snowy mountains, a still blue fjord, and a community of coloured wooden houses planted alongside a wooden church.Read more
Iceland is kind of a circle shape – and if you imagine it is a giant clock – we were driving somewhere around the 5 o’clock point. We were just a grain of sand sandwiched between two giants, the Atlantic sea and Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.
I stood in the middle of the highway, and watched it disappear into the distance. There were no cars. All around us was a lunar landscape of black volcanic soil, endless plains which stretched from mountain to sea.
I awoke, my mind frazzled, body aching and stiff. Our first night camping in Iceland had not been a comfortable one. The night was only about four hours long, and the sun barely dipped below the horizon before resuming it’s ascent.
Iceland has so many Þings to see! (It’s a joke. I’ll explain later)*
We had a car, and all of Iceland lay ahead. We were excited to see everything. First up, the Golden Circle, an easy day trip from Reykjavik that has some of the countries most spectacular sights. Here are some of the highlight of the Golden Circle.Read more
The door of the plane opened, and with a blast of icy needles of rain directly into our faces, I instantly learned two things about Iceland. This was summer; and it was really cold. I suppose I should have expected that, considering the name of the country. I’m hardwired to expect sun during summer, although a more fitting description for Icelandic summer is ‘the season that doesn’t have snow’. I laughed. This was good; I wanted Iceland’s unusual seasons to mystify me. Secondly, this was about 1am in the morning, and the murky navy blue sky was about as dark as it was destined to get at night. I could see the shuttle, the airport hangar, the city lights in the distance.
Keflavik airport to Reykjavik* should have been simple. After a terrible, sleepless video game drive of aquaplaning and tempting the fuel tank to it’s final drops, we reached Iceland’s capital. The absence of a dark night proved an asset as we scanned street signs for the hotel. We had gotten lost a dozen times trying to navigate the truly un-pronounceable and un-rememberable street names. Follow Snæbraut. If you pass Langholtsvegur, you’ve gone too far. Right onto Kringlumýrabraut, then onto Sundlaugavegur. Oops, we took Laugalækur instead of finding Laugarasvegur. We finally arrived, at about 4am, tempers already fraying between the four of us. Read more
Wow. What a trip. We spent eleven tiring and exhilarating days up about as close to the Arctic Circle as I dare go – Iceland – a destination chosen simply because it seemed utterly different to anything we’d ever seen before. A country the size of South Korea, but with a scant 300,000 inhabitants (compared to Korea’s 50 million). The night never got dark. The hot water smelled like stinking sulfur (even in the city), but tasted crisp, cool and perfect when cold. Sun, rain, blinding clouds and gale-force wind that threatened to push our moving car from the highway – the weather radically changed every 10 minutes.
There were four of us; myself, Cindy and Adeline (long time readers may recognise Adeline from some of my very first blog posts from Borneo). Then there was the fourth, Sandra. Complicated, disorganised and confusing, Sandra was a traveller we found online to share the road costs. In the end, after one too many heated arguments, she never wanted to see us again, so we refunded part of her share of the car rental and left her behind in Reykjavik.
The route was a ring road which encircles Iceland. 1,332km of ever-changing landscapes – glacier lakes cracking and plopping as the ice melted at the base; monumental, thundering waterfalls; exploding geysers and hot springs; a cool and quiet hipster capital city. It’s one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, and I can’t wait to share some stories and photos over the next few weeks.