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 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.
Alright! We’re on the road again. Quite literally, as I’d woken up that morning in Stykkishólmur eager to continue my adventure and had gotten an early start. My nighttime attempt to see the Northern Lights was foiled by clouds, but the day was looking to be absolutely gorgeous once again.
Last you heard, I was all tucked in snug into my sleeping bag in the hostel in Borgarnes. I woke up bright and early, excited to see more of the beautiful countryside and find out what Iceland held for this day. Surprisingly enough I was having little to no jet lag issues, so maybe what I had read actually had some truth to it. After getting dressed and packing up what I had left out from the night before I was ready to head out. In my research it had come up that it was intelligent to fuel up whenever possible, especially in the off season or shoulder season. Or if you were like me and didn’t have a PIN for your card and thus wouldn’t be able to use the non-staffed gas stations. So, my first stop was going to be a gas station to fuel up the car and myself. After a mess trying to get the gas tank open, trying to get payment methods figured out, attempting to decipher the Icelandic language when buying food, buying a kickass headband, and FINALLY getting some coffee I got on the road.
When I left you I was headed towards Reykjavik and the rising sun, not to mention the great adventure that awaited upon the road. First, I had to make it through the city driving a stick, deciphering 20 letter long road names, navigating through crazy roundabouts, and traffic. All while running on about two hours of sketchy sleep. I manhandled my poor car through it’s gears and set off down the road, all sorts of agog at the insane, otherworld beauty that I was driving through. I will never forget that drive into Reykjavik, the sun was just rising, painting the sky and the sea with glorious colors and the landscape was a mixture of gorgeous mountains wreathed in clouds in the distance and twisted lava flows covered in moss. I had arrived in Iceland and my greatest desire was to pull over and strike off on foot, however I kept in mind the fact that I was tired and also that I didn’t want to deal with city traffic on a normal Saturday morning until I was more sure of my ability to actually shift and such things. So, I continued on my path and tried to pay as much attention to the road as possible.
Warning: Teaser post, see below for explanation.
Despite my worries check in was a breeze, my bags were well under weight, and security was easy after all the flights over the last year. I was in the small terminal, so I found my gate easily and I relaxed, listening to the happy accents of my fellow passengers as we awaited our flight. After buying some water, I plugged in my phone hoping to charge it up a bit before I landed in Iceland. All of the good byes and research had drained my battery to the point of near death and I wanted to make sure I could get in touch with the car rental agency when I landed just in case they weren’t waiting for me as planned. As I listened to the musical sounds of different languages filling the terminal, I tried to take deep breaths and remind myself that I totally had this shit, I was a fucking rockstar, and would own Iceland all over the place. I meant this in a completely literal sense, because I’d decided to rent a car and drive myself around the island alone. When I decide to do something, I go big! Even if I am terrified in the process.
Wow. I’m finally writing this trip up. Kinda hard to believe, eh? This has been a hard trip for me to write about, not because I’m being a lazy git or anything, but because it was such a deeply personal trip. More of a sort of “vision quest” instead of a trip, as one of my good friends put it. So I thought I’d start with a bit of a pre-trip write up to give you all a feel for why I chose to go to Iceland, alone, for my first trip abroad.
Another year has passed and its been just about a year since this blog was started. I had some lofty goals at the beginning of 2012 and managed to meet several of them, failed miserably at others, and still others are a continual work in progress. I started out 2013 a bit of a broken shell. Well, if I’m being brutally honest a very much broken shell of a woman and pretty alcohol soaked at the time too. I was struggling to find a part of myself that I had long repressed, being too afraid to let it come to light. Unfortunately the constant darkness in which I had hidden myself had done what it often does and had stunted my growth. So this last year was a year all about ME. About finding myself, putting myself back together, and leaving out the parts I didn’t like in order to create a new, so much more incredible, version of Jen.