That morning I awoke somewhat less than eager; the knowledge that I was leaving that day was weighing heavily upon my mind. Nevertheless, my plane left that afternoon and I couldn’t afford to miss my flight. So, I pulled up my big girl panties, went to enjoy one last Icelandic breakfast, and then drove off into downtown Reykjavik to check out the Handknitting Association of Iceland’s shop in hopes of finding something to take home. The drive into the city during rush hour was actually very fun and empowering. Especially since I had truly learned how to drive a manual in the past weeks and traffic was no longer an issue. Finding a parking spot wasn’t so easy and once I found one I ended up breaking the law because I had foolishly packed all my Icelandic cash. American credit cards don’t have PINs so I was unable to use my card in the available meters. After deciding to risk it I booked it to the store for some shopping. The shop was really cool, if I were someone who had interest in creating objects and clothing out of wool I probably would’ve been in heaven. As it was, in my typical fashion I was unable to find anything that suited my fancy and so I left empty handed.
Today was to be my last full day in Iceland, as such I’d saved one of my favorite activities for this day, horseback riding! After a ton of research I signed up for what was going to amount to a full day ride. Considering it had been about month since I had ridden regularly with everything going on, it might not have been the most well thought out decision ever. Really, though I wasn’t too concerned. Sure, I might be incredibly sore, but I was going to the Blue Lagoon tomorrow and then off on the plane to Ithaca, NY to begin my re-acclimation to the States.
Unlike yesterday I woke up this morning once again excited to hit the road. The only downside to my awakening was the realization that I only had two and half days left in this wondrous place. I was determined to make my last couple of days count, so I headed off onto the road after enjoying one of the quick Icelandic breakfasts I’d come to love so well. My first stop was Skogafoss, a waterfall that my hostess from the night before had recommended as a must see. To be honest, my first impression was less awestruck at the beauty of the waterfall and more confusion as to why there were people everywhere. However, I still greatly enjoyed the waterfall, although the stairs to the top were killer! I was starting to really get the hang of this whole “photography” thing, I felt, and it was a lot of fun to test out different ideas I had in presenting the beauty of Skogafoss. Imagine my delight when I found the perfect opportunity to catch the reflection of the waterfall in a puddle just as I was driving away! Overall, in spite of the glut of people that I was no longer accustomed to, I still had a fun time at this particular waterfall.
This was the first day I woke not so ready to hit the road, it was gloomy outside and for some reason I was just not feeling the road. Nevertheless I packed up my Duster and headed out once again. After I started driving, my spirits rose as I took in the sunrise reflecting off of the still pools, glaciers, and mountaintops. My goal today was to see the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, and from there head to Svartifoss and a glacier walk before spending the night in Vík which was a popular tourist destination.
Much like every other morning I awoke refreshed and set to packing my car so I could set out on my adventure. Today my plan was to make it to Höfn and spend the night there in the hostel. I’d heard that there was a wonderful Icelandic restaurant there where I could sample some Icelandic lobster and given my normal penchant for amazing food, I was eager to sample their version. The hotel offered a breakfast along with the room charge, so I headed over to the restaurant hungry and ready to begin my day. Imagine my surprise when I entered a room with white table clothes, flowers, and candles on the table. Breakfast was lovely and I have to say that given the chance I will definitely take the opportunity to enjoy a candlelit breakfast again.
Once again I woke up feeling refreshed and excited to begin my day. One thing about Iceland, I slept like a rock every night, excluding the one where I was sick, which was a bit of a surprise to me because I’m not always the easiest sleeper in the world. For the most part the beds were comfortable and I was usually so tired every night that I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. That morning I did my usual neat packing up and started getting everything back into my car, but for the first time my host was up and came out for a nice morning chat. It was a very nice way to start out my day, especially when she steered me away from taking a road that I had considered taking, apparently it was snow covered and through some very hairy terrain. Instead she pointed out another route that wasn’t so difficult, but would still provide some nice scenery, and so I headed down the road after saying good bye.
I started off that next morning easily, the night before I had planned out my route, so I had a good idea of what the day was going to hold and I was confident that I could get it all done. As usual, nothing was going to happen quite the way I expected, but that’s part of the adventure, isn’t it? With another great Icelandic breakfast filling my belly and a full gas tank I set off down the road with a smile on my face. Unsurprisingly, before too long I came upon a view that just begged me to stop and take some pictures. I happily obliged and even found some sheep to grazing to add to the picturesque scenery. One of these shots ended up being another favorite from the trip; that’s if picking 500 or so from 2600 pictures can be considered having any sort of favorites.
As if to make up for the terribleness of the last day, this day dawned beautifully with an incredible sunset over Lake Mývatn. Once I saw the scenery outside, I sprang out of my bed and threw on my clothes as quickly as possible so I could get outside and take picture. Sadly, my picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was the perfect way to begin the day. After I finished up with my pictures I headed back inside to pack up my room and then have breakfast. This was the first place I’d stayed that included breakfast and I was curious to see what it was like because I’d heard quite about the weird Icelandic breakfasts. They did make an effort to have some typical breakfast fair of yogurt, granola, cereal, and the like, but I loved that they had some wonderful breads and meats too. Apparently that is a pretty Icelandic thing, which I thought was totally kickass because I’m not a fan of cereal or even yogurt really. After finishing my breakfast, I turned in my key and headed out for the day.
I woke up that next morning feeling pretty weak, but thinking I was on the upswing of the sickness that had felled me in the night. As I set about cleaning up my booby traps and my assorted gear, I couldn’t help but laugh at my silly fantasies of the night before. Only I would get so worked up that I’d booby trap my damn hostel room. Although, I will maintain that an empty hostel in the off season is a lot creepier than one might think. Add in a bout of the stomach flu with a corresponding high fever and it’s not all that surprising I went off the deep end for a brief moment in time. As tired as I was, I set off with a smile on my face. The snow had left everything looking so clean and really made some interesting shapes over the convoluted lava formations. My agenda that day included Hverfell, Dettifoss, some area lava formations, mud pots, and nature baths. In short, I had a full day planned for myself and was looking forward to seeing it all.
As if to make up for the carefree yesterday, the next morning dawned with issues right off the bat. I’d woken up bright and early, gotten things packed up, and started to move everything out to my car so I could take off to Godafoss right away. In theory anyways, because my car wouldn’t start. Yes, you guessed it, I had left the lights on and my battery died. My car in the States has lights that turn off automatically, so it wasn’t habit for me to turn off the lights in my rental car just yet. It definitely would be from here on out. After bemoaning my luck and checking the car unsuccessfully for cables, I asked one of the other hostel guests if he happened to have any. He didn’t speak English, but I was able to get my point across using pantomime, quite hilariously too I’m sure. I asked the hostel people if they knew of anyone who could help and they ended up calling friend to jump my car for me. Forty dollars later I was on the road, slightly frazzled and embarrassed, but on the road all the same. I swung into a full service gas station to fill up for the day and grab some coffee while the attendant took care of my car. After managing the coffee machine, which I was just starting to get the hang of on my fourth day, and paying I went out to start my car. Except the steering wheel had locked and of course, I couldn’t get it unlocked. So I shamefacedly walked into the gas station full of men and asked for help. They helped me with a grin on their faces and probably had a good laugh about it as I drove away. Vehicles were not looking like my strong suit today.