Diary of an Icelandic Road Trip — day 1
A jump into Iceland’s stunning landscapes
That’s it ! We’re on the plane! I start to read the guide but I’m so tired from the project I was working on for two weeks (and which I just submitted some hours ago) that I fall asleep directly for a good two hours.
When I wake up, BOUUUM, we are already flying over Iceland… The landscape is just marvelous. A mix of sharp mountains, infinite plains, invading snow and black beaches where a turquoise water rolls in a huge amount of foam. All in one sight!
At the airport a guy from our rental company (Procar) is waiting for us, on the way he shows us pictures of northern lights made just two days ago close to Reykjavík. Amazed, we decide to do rounds by night to see them but we are already border line with the period for seeing some. (Turned out our days were so busy that doing anything but sleep during the night was impossible ^^).
Our car for the week is a Hyundai I20, better than the Kia Picanto we were supposed to get. Then … leeeet’s riiiiide !!
We were told Icelandic landscapes are amazing, but “amazing” is too weak to describe the Hollywood-like landscapes we are riding through. We drive first through a chaotic world. The cracks formed by lava rocks are bedding a bunch of red and black vegetation. We are literally in the middle of nowhere, it’s been only half an hour since we left the airport and the road is now the only thing splitting this stunning scenery in halves.
No more than ten minutes later we enter a totally different atmosphere, the only thing we are able to see is snow. Snow everywhere, snow until the end of sight. And a strong wind is now hurling snow, running over the road like in an apocalyptic movie.
Our first destination is þingvellir, a UNESCO world heritage site. And it is not hard to understand why. They (the Icelandic) were holding the parliament council there, in the middle of the dazzling cracks and vast prairies where a peaceful river crosses the cracks to, finally, slowly reach the largest natural lake in Iceland — þingvallavatn. (vatn is water in Icelandic)
UNESCO world heritage and former place of the parliament council
Not far from there, we then reach Geysir, the most famous geyser in the world I guess, though it is now partly obstructed with rocks thrown by heart-less tourists. But fortunately it’s neighbor Strokkur is much more reliable and spout waters every few minutes. Even after seeing it on TV, it’s very impressive, seeing the water form a bubble right under the surface and then explode in a gigantic blast of water. The site is also surrounded with geothermal features like boiling water and crevasses but it passes almost unnoticed next to the geysers.
The weather in Iceland changes so quickly and often that we arrived on the site with a bright sun, just to be kicked out by a vigorous snow storm.
400kr for a machine hot chocolate! Geeeez, this trip is starting financially hard! Just to help you picture it, it’s like if you take a “Venti” … in a Starbucks Coffee … in Switzerland.
The next stop brings us to Gullfoss, a quite touristic waterfall (fairly big as well) but we are unable to get close so it is not that interesting.
We are then searching for the famous hot spring valley Reykjadalur but we lose ourselves in Hveragerði and have to ask our way to the few inhabitants living there (almost every Icelandic I talked to were very kind and spoke a somewhat understandable English).
The hike to the valley is full of geothermal holes and it stinks like rotten eggs! (we actually smelled this so often during the week that I now associate this smell with Iceland ! Yay!)
Mounting the tent there is a child’s play. Oh Yeah btw, funny story about the tent, two days before coming we called the tent rental company in Reykjavík to be sure they are open on Easter Sunday. But not only they were closed, but they are not renting tents “so early” as it’s still too cold. After freaking out, we put ourselves together and took the venturesome solution to still go with camping. Thus we had to buy (on the day before the flight) a tent and a hold luggage in the plane.
Anyway, we clear a square of snow just next to the hot spring in order to plant to plant the tent. Now comes the probably biggest fail of humankind. To set the story, it is 9pm, in the middle of a mountain, surrounded by snow and a cold wind is blowing heavily. We brace ourselves to put on the swimsuit and run to the river … just to lamentably realize that the river is F***ING TOO HOT !! Impossible to even keep a foot in it, Crazy!
Fortunately, after dressing up, we find another spot with the perfect temperature and take what is the best bath in my entire life; The hot water, the snow, the daylight going off (yeah at midnight ^^). Only the northern lights are missing to this masterpiece.
“I think that this is what being Happy means” — Jackson
The night in itself is horrible! so cold that I wake up at 2am, on the edge of death. Florian even said afterward that I was not shaking but it looked more like a Harlem Shake! From now on, I sleep with my warmest pull and a huge coat!
Don’t forget to check the day 2 for more pictures and stories !
We loved this country and the experiences we had there, so on the way back we mounted a short film with shots taken all around the island. Enjoy!