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Iceland, Day 5

Day 5…was different. After leaving the hostel, I went to check out the glacier again. Jökulsárlón Lagoon was the name. This time it was to get a few shots of the little glacier blocks that littered the beach. It started off with some bad news. Apparently the aurora borealis was out in full the night before, right when I went to bed. Damnit. This particular day wasn’t all that interesting. I’ll just let you know right here and now that I ended up catching a stomach ache for the afternoon. Despite that, I did end up doing a few things.

After catching the sunrise at Jökulsárlón, I drove back to Skaftafell National Park. I was there to check out Svartifoss (black falls), but ended up doing a bit of hiking instead. To be honest I didn’t find Svartifoss to be all that great, but it was still pretty cool seeing the formation. Rather than going back to the car, I decided to do more hiking. I hadn’t done any hiking for years up until that point and then felt like a good time. So with about 10-12 pounds of camera gear, further up the mountain I go. The whole time I’m thinking, what on earth am I doing? I hike up to part of the top and boy, I feel great when I get there. I didn’t really do THAT much hiking, but I felt happy. Exercise ladies and gents. Exercise is indeed important for happiness.

After that, a 3 or 4 hour drive to the town of Laugarvatn to stay at the hostel there so that I can visit the places around the so-called Golden Circle the following day. These locations being: Gullfoss, Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park. The hostel I stay at is pretty empty, and not many people to talk to. I end up getting a stomachache and cannot finish the dinner I made for myself. I’ll have to try cooking for myself another time. For now, it is time to live off of sandwiches. I have a feeling I’ll have lost a fair bit of weight when I check back home.

Stopped by a random cave by the road. I liked this shot


Iceland day 3!

Background: I’m typing this as I wait in my car for the ice caving tour to start in about an hour. Just a little early.

Day three started like this: wake up early, try not to wake up the other roommates too much, take a shower, grab stuff and type out blog post for day two, go through/edit photos, and snack on chocolate and almonds until breakfast. A few hours later everyone was getting up and preparing to head out as well. It was a mixture of continued conversation, new conversation, and final smiles of goodbye and well wishes. If anything, I would describe solo travel as transient. Especially when it comes to hostels. Meet new people, converse for an evening and/or morning, go off on our separate ways. I am finding great difficulty in describing solo travel. If you just want Iceland related stuff, please skip to Part 2. Otherwise, have fun reading part 1, philosophical bullshit.

Part 1

I have read in numerous places that solo travel is a time when one can learn much about one’s self. What one is capable of, one’s fears, one’s needs vs. desires, and one’s potential. We supposedly become more aware when we are left to fend for ourselves (though not in any sort of wilderness manner). This has rung true in a few instances, but personally I feel that the past few days have been a confirmation about what sort of person I am and want to be. That being said, I have also realized what sort of things I value the most. Things I didn’t really think about before. Even just three days in, I have received answers to questions that I have about my life and life in general (I think). I have also obtained more questions. The whole: what is the purpose of life; is there any meaning; what is my purpose in life; where is our place in the universe; what is important; what’s right or wrong; how important are we, if at all; where the hell do we come from. I like to believe that everyone thinks about these sorts of things at least once in a while; some more than others. These sorts of questions are specific and broad all at once. There are those of us who feel like we know the answers (excuse me, know that they know the answers) and there are those of use who are not at all too sure. The truth is, these sorts of questions are enlightening, depressing, inspiring, important, not important, answerable, unanswerable, and self-centered. I’ll talk more on this bit in my next post.

Part 2

Anyway, Iceland adventure stuff. Many of you want to travel, or at least want the romanticized version of travel. I’ll admit I came to Iceland with a bit of a borderline cynical attitude. This attitude was born pretty much out of fear. I went to three places today: Fjelfkjaks, Dyurhousy, and Svartsibeach. Ok, that was just a bunch of bull, the real names are: Fjaðrárgljúfur, Dyrhólaey, and Reynisfjara beach. I didn’t have the spellings at the time of writing my draft and decided to keep those in. They’re actually just a result of me putting random letters together that vaguely seemed like they’d be Icelandic (no disrespect intended). They actually looked legitimate. I was surprised.

The first place I went to, was a bit of a disappointment. Probably the first one I’ve had so far. It was a disappointment mostly because I didn’t get to explore it as much as I would have liked. Cold water and ice are an annoyance when you don’t have the proper gear. I didn’t feel like getting soaked only three days in. Oh well, maybe one day I can go check it out in the summer season. All I will say about this place is that it seems like a fantastic place to be surrounded by cliffs and hike along a river. One day I’ll do just that.

Fjaðrárgljúfur, looks to be a great place for hiking

The second place was intimidating. Watching the waves hit Reynisfjara beach was the first time I had ever heard a pounding sea in person. The thunderous roar was awesome. And not using that word casually! The third place was nearby. Dyrhólaey overlooked numerous cliffs and this was the first time I had really seen waves pound cliff sides. The pounding combined with the spray reminded me how easy it would be for me to be washed out into the ocean. How small I felt then.

Anywho, that’s day three! Leaving this simple. Ish.

Iceland! Day 1

So for those that care, I indeed made it to Iceland. The first day was…well the first day. It took me some time to get adjusted to being here. I kept feeling that the next door I walked out of would bring me back to Vancouver, like magic or something. Ok, story time.

Transfer flight from Vancouver to Seattle: nothing that special other than getting put on an earlier flight cause I arrived at the airport early. Kudos Alaska Airlines! It helped me avoid a narrow time frame for a transfer flight. I only have a carry on and a personal bag (did not want to deal with checked luggage) so when we land I’m off to the gate for the next leg of the journey. Getting on the Icelandair flight was surprisingly exciting. I still get excited by the idea of flight and I just love looking out the window. The plastic/dry air aroma of the cabin brought back pleasant emotions. I started getting excited at this point. “Holy crap I’m actually going!”

Flight over Canada! Somewhere over the prairies

By the time we land, I should have been sleeping (give or take a few hours) back in Vancouver. I didn’t get very good sleep on the plane so I knew jet lag was going to be a bit of a problem. Off the plane, through customs, and the airport is not really what I expected. It was a very fancy looking airport, but it didn’t feel like anything special. Just another airport. Ok, no big there. Having about an hour of time to kill before my rental car pick up, I ended up having breakfast (which was actually lunch, dinner, and breakfast). This consisted of a nine dollar (910 ISK) sandwich which didn’t have that much in it. Whatever, it’s an airport and a guy’s gotta eat.

Car rental pick up time. Painless and Blue Car Rental gave me a thorough explanation of what to expect. Thanks Blue Car Rental (By the way, if you wanna have your own adventure it is REALLY best that you rent a car)! I’m surprised to find out that there is a USB that I can use to play my iPod through the car’s speakers. YES! And at this point I drive off to my first destination, which frankly doesn’t have much. I never made it to my planned destination as the side road I was supposed to take…was covered in ice. That wasn’t the bad part though. I had a bit of fun slipping around on there (not at speed!). What turned me off was the steep looking downward hill I had to go down about 1km in. Nope, I do not plan on getting stuck on my first day in Iceland. No thank you. Ok, off to a grocery store and then to Selfoss, my first hostel stay. Ever.

Rental CarMy trusty steed, the Suzuki Swift

Ok, screw it gonna go grocery shopping. I make my way to a grocery store I had in mind and along the way I seem some interesting things, but nothing that made me want to give a second look. At this point I decided I would just head straight to the hostel. No point doing things reluctantly while tired.  Time to get myself adjusted as soon as possible. Ok, grocery store, wander around, find things, be confused, go around in circles, buy a few things, get out, sit in the car and look at a map. Honestly, it isn’t hard to drive around in Iceland. However, the first little while I kept going to the wrong exits, missing exits, and yet again going in circles. It doesn’t help that I can’t read the signs quickly. At this point, I’m thinking that Iceland is not what I imagined it to be. “Sweet jesus, driving around is stressful”. I’ll take that thought back in the future though. Finally going in the right direction, I just keep driving in a tired and unamused manner. Then suddenly BOOM! The landscape changes and I’m thinking: “Holy crap, this is what I was expecting!” So as with anywhere, out of a city is probably gonna look better. Anyways, there’s snow everywhere and nowhere. What do I mean by that? Well the road was mostly clear of snow and the sides of it was covered in snow. Beautiful. Such great contrast. But there was some snow on the roads and there were some butt-hole clenching moments. It was my second time driving over snow, but the previous ice encounter did help. Off I go, unsafely admiring the views while driving.

First viewMy first…view. Wasn’t all that inspiring.

I finally make it to the hostel in Selfoss, and I’m way early. Let’s just say that I was the only one there for most of the day. So I sat, watched TV, went online, sent some texts/messages over data, ate, and napped. Also started off a batch of postcard writing. It was at this point I was wishing I was in Iceland with someone else. The boredom would have been lessened (just fyi, now not so much). In the end I had some chat time with the few other people who ended up staying at the same hostel. I guess that’s what I like most about hostels so far. You get to meet random people, hotels don’t really do that. That’s it for day!

First proper viewSo the first proper view I drove up and down for