So, I have met a handful of obstacles in my two weeks, going on three, of travel. My biggest fail has been that I completely overlooked making sure my computer was equipped to be charged in each country I was traveling to.
I’ve never traveled internationally and so I thought, or maybe it was a combo of exhaustion and laziness, a simple converter/adapter would suffice. I was wrong. I was able to find a Mac Store in Reykjavík and get a plug that supposedly works in Europe, but as I arrived in Ireland, I noticed they have different outlets, too. So, I am back to having no laptop. I messed up. Sorry. Photos will be posted eventually. I promise.
Anywho, Iceland. Iceland, at least for now, is the most beautiful place I have ever had the fortune of visiting. From the mountains, glaciers, lava fields and waterfalls to the Icelandic horses and the sheep! Everything is clean, streamlined, and fresh. My experience was all-around fantastic!
So, I arrived late on Sept. 5th after a great flight on IcelandAir. The seats were spacious, there were multiple USB ports, and there was a TV with free movies and TV shows. I chose to watch a few episodes of the League (hilarious, btw), a few videos on different regions of Iceland, and part of the movie Contact. It’s one of my favorites. The flight attendants were so put together, very pretty, and they wore little hats. It was fun. Flying over Canada and a little bit of Greenland was amazing to see, too.
I arrived via taxi to my very first AirBnb. If you travel to Iceland and fly into KEF (Keflavik International Airport), take the Flybus to Reykjavík!!! Do not take a cab!! It is insanely expensive. I didn’t realize it was so far from Reykjavík (45-50 minutes). I actually gasped when my credit card company called to verify charges…you live and you learn. Some of those experiences/mistakes are more expensive than others.
For my first day, my plans went out the window. I woke up late, my car rental moved locations and I had to wait for a shuttle to get me, and by the time I got my car it was around 11:30am. I then proceeded to sit in my car and learn about driving in Iceland. I was also scared to leave the parking lot. I eventually became brave enough and left, and realized it wasn’t bad at all. It is very similar to the US, same side of the road and car and similar but more detailed signage. The roundabouts are fun and you can pay tolls with a credit card.
I decided to drive north to Snaefellsjokul National Park which is about 3 to 3.5 hour drive. It was totally worth it. Never did I have a bad view. I could stand in one spot and turn in a circle and have a spectacular view with each of the 360 degrees. There are lots of places you can pull off to take photos and I learned that the entrances to gated animal areas provide even more spots. Before driving, I learned per a pamphlet provided by my rental company, that it is illegal to pull off onto areas that aren’t already designated for that or that isn’t road, etc. When doing that you are killing very fragile vegetation that will either take a very long time to grow back or may never grow back at all. So, please don’t be one of those people if you ever visit.
The first day had lots of beautiful sunshine, although there was quite a chill in the air. I didn’t realize how much I would be using my Everest gear in Iceland. It came in very handy for a few days were there was a lot of wind and rain. I stayed warm and dry and was never uncomfortable. My hiking boots have definitely been broken in. I think they key to dressing for excursions in Iceland is to layer. I wore jeans,wool socks, boots, a t-shirt, a thin fleece, rain/wind resistant jacket (Arc’Teryx from REI in Boston…they were so helpful, and now I’m a member, yay!), and sometimes a baseball cap or wool hat. Some gloves would have been nice at times, but I am holding out on getting the rest of my gear for Everest in Kathmandu. I also brought a pair of North Face rain pants which were such a blessing on my third day.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves…I finally met my bnb host, Maria, who also happens to be Colombian. She is such a warm and friendly woman, and offered to make me some dinner because “being a storm hunter makes you special so I make you food.” She asked if I was feeling adventurous and I jumped at the chance to try authentic Icelandic food. She prepared a handful of small bites, but two in particular stood out. She wouldn’t tell me what any of it was until I tasted it. It was all very good and I was surprised to find out that one was whale and the other was a young horse. The whale tasted like raw tuna. It melted in my mouth. Being marinated in soy sauce gave it a really nice flavor. The horse meat tasted like beef and was cooked with onions and broccoli. I felt very conflicted about liking the taste of both dishes because I love both whales and horses. I had just spent the day admiring the beauty of the Icelandic horse and now I was eating one. It’ll be an Iceland thing, reserved for when I’m there and someone makes it for me and doesn’t tell me.
The second day was spent driving south. I encountered rain here and there on my way to visit a few waterfalls and one of the black sand beaches. All of it was stunning, but even now at the end of tourist season, there were too many of them. Yes, I know I’m one myself, but I think I’m different than most. Wink. The photography portion of my trip has not gone as planned. It’s tough to get a photo of something when people are constantly walking through your shot. I gave up at times and resigned to living in the moment and making a mental photograph. Sometimes it’s nice to do that anyway. I stayed at IcelandAir Hotel that night and had a fancy dinner. I put on the nicest clothes I had and a bit of makeup. The food was really good, but the service was HORRIBLE. I’m not joking when I say that I had FOUR different people as my waitor/waitress. It’s not that they weren’t nice, but it was confusing and I never did get my Shephard’s coffee, just got a regular one without alcohol, though it did have chocolate with it.
The next day was one that frazzled my nerves. White knuckle driving was the theme of the day and getting to my B&B on the east side consisted of mostly curvy coastal driving with heavy fog added to heavy rain and super strong winds. Iceland also seems to not believe in guard rails either, so there’s that, too. It was terrifying. The winds at times reminded me of storm chasing, that’s how strong they were.
I stayed the night at my bnb, but decided to start back to Reykjavík early so I could stop along the way and see what I had missed and also not having to drive 8 hours straight was a good thing, too. I had a magical morning drive along the coast. I could actually see the moss covered mountains with low hanging clouds covering just the tops. It would rain for short times and then the sun would pop out to create the most saturated and full rainbows I have ever witnessed. End to end. The pot of gold doesn’t exist or must be buried in the ground because that’s how visible they were. One rainbow lasted for a good 15 to 20 minutes. It was spectacular!
I then made it to Glacier Lagoon, again, but now could see the glacier and not just the lagoon. You haven’t seen the color blue until you’ve seen it like this! I ventured across the road to the black sand beach that was covered with ice pieces ranging in size of a softball to a loveseat. The ones floating in the water had to be the size of a car and bigger. The contrast of the ice and black sand made for some good photos and with just a little bit of sun, some of the ice looked like sparkly gems.
I stayed another night at the IcelandAir Hotel and got dinner at a restaurant down the street. It was a decent dinner, with a nice waitstaff. I had selected my waiter’s favorite beer called Garún. It was really good and really potent at 11.5%. I opted to go without a 2nd, numero uno did it’s job, lol.
I left early the next day to drive 15 minutes down the road to hike up a canyon called Fjadrárgljúfur. It was of course beautiful, and the green moss seemed to glow as the sun came out. At the end of the trail there was a majestic waterfall. It was a fun hike and it energized me for my 3 hour drive back to Reykjavík.
My next bnb was downtown and a few minutes walk from the heart of the city. I drove to experience the Blue Lagoon the following morning, first thing. I think that may be the best time, before it gets really crowded. I got the premium package that provided a towel, robe, flip flops for you to take home, a complimentary drink, two masks (silica and algae) and a glass of sparkling wine that I unfortunately had to miss because my rental car had to be back before my reservation at the restaurant rolled around. It’s a very touristy thing to do and the most popular, but it was a great and relaxing experience that I very much enjoyed. I spent my afternoon walking around downtown, and forgot all about the Icelandic hotdog I was supposed to try until I accidentally found a stand. The line was long so I knew they had to be good. While waiting in line I heard English and an American accent. I decided to ignore my shy tendencies and strike up a conversation. It just so happens that Marianne and Butch were from the east side of Michigan! What a small world! We continued to talk for the next 30 to 45 minutes over hotdogs and Coca~Cola (the hotdogs were soooooooo good, the mustard was my favorite part). Having a conversation longer than a minute was so enjoyable. I will admit I have been pretty lonely at times, even after just a few days, but that’s not to say I’m not enjoying myself. I am. Very much.
We wished each other luck and parted ways before I made my way to Lebowski Bar where I had a very good white Russian because what else would I have?? It’s all in honor of The Dude. I’m referring to the movie The Big Lebowski, if you’re confused. The bar was odd and loveable, just like the movie. My bartender had a shirt with Jesus licking his bowling ball on. It made me giggle.
I went back to my temporary home, packed, and decided I could get a few hours of sleep in. I set my alarm and then woke up an hour later than I was supposed to. Thank goodness everything was ready to go and after spelling the street name to the taxi company because I didn’t know how to say it, he arrived in just a few minutes. I made it through check-in, special sized luggage, and customs lines a few minutes before they started boarding. God was looking out for me, that could have been a disaster if I had slept any later.
I was really sad to leave Iceland. I felt very comfortable out in the middle of nowhere driving by myself. A lot of time was spent with my thoughts and it did me some good. Wanderlust has entered into my heart and has found a permanent home. I don’t think I’ll ever “get it out of my system.” I am learning that although I can sometimes be painfully shy, I am also fearless, brave, and adventurous. I yearn to experience new things, go new places. I may have to admit that I’m a little bit of a thrill seeker, too. I’ve denied that pretty often when others say it. I like adventure, and that’s okay.
Again, sorry for my fail on the computer side of things. Images will come, it just will be later. I am pretty active on Facebook (Marcella Herington), Instagram (cella15mar), and Snapchat (girlencompassed). My professional Facebook and Instagram accounts will be updated when I have images edited. Thanks for your support and patience!!