Tag Archives: Roadtrip

Iceland, Day 8 & 9

Just as a note, I didn’t end up taking very many photos these two days. I ended up just taking shots of the car I rented, the Suzuki Swift. I fell in love with this car not because of its style, sportiveness, or speed. In fact, the acceleration was awful. Mostly it was the fact that it had a USB port so that I could play music from my iPod. That and it took me all over various parts of Iceland, I pushed the car to do certain things and it delivered. It took me through all sorts of conditions and it made Iceland a blast!

 

I’m just going to put some shots of the car here and there in this post. I can see why people like taking photos of cars now. Would I get a Suzuki Swift? Yeah if I had loads of money, it’d be one of the cars I’d buy. Mostly cause I’d try and drift with it for kicks.

Day 8

It is around days eight and nine that things begin to become a bit more relaxed. The 11-6 schedule I had been following had been taking its toll. Generally I was more tired and lacked the energy to really do anything. The private hotel room, despite the extra cost, was a refreshing break from the hostel dorms I had been staying at. It occurred to me that while having a budget was good, it was also stressful. Knowing I could break the budget without any major consequences (such as not having enough in the bank) made things all the less stressful; more on the finance side of things in a future post.

Simply put, on day eight we visited Seljalandsfoss (for me a second time) and it was from there we parted ways. They drove to their next destination just before Vik and I drove back to Selfoss. The reason for the separation was mostly the weather. The wind picked up that day along the south coast and it was something like 70-80km/h winds. What I found amusing was the difference of driving style between my new friends and myself. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being safe let me just say that. I just found it amusing that I had no problem driving at the regular speed in that wind vs. their slightly slower speed. Safety first of course and I’ll admit something bad could have happened to me. Maybe I’m more of a risk taker than I previously thought?

Anyway, in Selfoss I just chill around and make some dinner. Basically pasta and some god awful frozen fruit I picked up that probably wasn’t meant to be eaten on its own. Oh and a banana. What I didn’t expect to end up doing there is practice my French with two lovely ladies from France. Backstory, they came to travel in Iceland but with no rental car. To be frank they weren’t having as great of a time as they could have had, but they weren’t having a super bad trip either. It just could have been better as Iceland is a place where a car is pretty much necessary. Back to the French practice, one of the ladies spoke English quite well whereas the other lady understood English, but never tried practicing. So as a result, fluent in English French lady often translated for her friend. It was amusing for myself and fluent in English lady for non-fluent in English lady to try and converse in English, not so much for the non-fluent friend!

Day 9

After sleeping in a drafty and dark room I set off again to somewhere. I had done some research the night prior and decided to check out Haifoss (literally high falls). It was recommended during the winter, but I thought “screw it, let’s try”. So I end up driving there and the roads end up being covered in snow, I keep plowing forward and at some point I tell myself to stop and just go back. I end up visiting Hjalparfoss, which wasn’t all that special (maybe better in the summer). But it was interesting seeing two small waterfalls almost face each other. The upside is I got to drive around in very random winter conditions. I also got to experience the car slipping and sliding around and was able to control it (surprisingly).

After all this I end up getting KFC back in Selfoss (it was ok…) and drive back to Reykjavik to stay a night at this other hostel in the city. This hostel was much bigger and I found it to be much more relaxing to sit around in the common area. Later in the night I had a great conversation with a lady from Denmark. One of the conclusions we came to was that there is a lot of pressure when it comes to traveling. Everyone back home expects you to have an amazing time and that the trip should be amazing balls. See some amazing sights and everything should work out fine and dandy. Of course, I’d like to imagine that anyone who’s traveled on numerous occasions know that this isn’t the case. At least, that’s what I got from everyone I had talked to and observed.

The parts of trips we won’t tell you (some of the time) are the awful bits. The lonely moments (if applicable), the shitty weather, the moments where things don’t work out, and the moments where we’re doing absolutely nothing at all. There are moments during the trip, at least I had them at least, where we’ll wonder “why am I even here?” Though, sometimes we might spin the situations in a funny manner. That’s when we make it back home after all. We survived. I’d have to say that the first time one travels, there is indeed that bit of pressure to have an amazing experience. Once you get past that though, you end up having a good time. Maybe this will be a few days after you get to your destination or during your second or third trip. At some point, you stop caring and just have a good time. Truth is, there isn’t really any pressure to have an amazing trip! It only seems that way when you hear all those stories about others having fantastic trips. Or maybe those photos of them in some far off place. It’s all in the mind. As long as you found the trip worthwhile, others will think so too. Hope this helps if you had or might have that initial problem.

I shall leave you with an awfully long video of just the drive around if you’re interested. Most of the snowy conditions were on day 9 and it is a bit boring, but I think I’ll be doing more timelapse in the future. With a motorcycle.

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Iceland, Day 7

The day started off with a mixture of disappointment and acceptance that my new friend and I were going to be parting ways. Despite growing somewhat accustomed to traveling alone, company is always nice. We grab breakfast and then head our separate ways after dropping him off at the BSI Bus Terminal; another day on my own. It was surprisingly difficult to adjust back to being on my own again, which sucked. Immensely. Next stop: Thingvellir National Park. I had skipped this spot to drive to Snæfellsnes and it was more or less the last thing on my list to see.

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Along the way I stopped to check out a couple of views. It’s not often I get to see a clear road surrounded on both sides by snow. At this point I was really looking for ways to kill time as I had been told you could do the park in more or less a day. I thought I could go up to Snæfellsnes again, but the budget side of me told me not to. Looking back, I wish I had gone up to Snæfellsnes a second time. Enough with regrets. It was around this time I found myself offering to take pictures for people. A lot. It never occurred to me how many people don’t ask others to help them take a picture. In a lot of those travel shots you’ll often see someone missing from the photo (the person who took it). Anways, off to the national park. The most shocking thing I found about the park? Washrooms cost 200ISK to use (about $2 Canadian). Say what? I really had to go, but it took me about 10 minutes of wandering back and forth thinking about whether or not I should. Of course, $2 is a small price to pay for an intact bladder and dry pants. I can’t say I found the park all that great. At this point I realized that I have some sort of aversion to tourist traps. Walking into one just shuts down my brain and makes it refuse to do anything creative. Chances are someone else has done it before…I guess that’s the hipster side of me?

In the park I end up chatting with a pair of people who also happened to be from Canada and ended up asking if I could tag along their trip. What ends up happening is that I visit Gullfoss and Geysir again. What was surprising to me was that I was ok with that. One would think that going to the same place again while on a trip like this would be a waste of time, but it didn’t feel that way. The look of the place did chance as a lot of the ice melted and you could see all the big blocks of ice being thrown around like they weighed nothing. That was pretty awe-inspiring. It made me feel small yet again. It also reminded me that after I’m long gone, places like Gullfoss will look much different than they do now. It’s pretty hard for our minds to grasp things like the future, especially when they don’t involve ourselves.

Geysir was interesting. My two new friends decided to hike up this rather large hill that I didn’t really notice the last time I was here. Over a little ladder and up to the top we go. They crack open some peanut butter and a bag of bread, hello PB&J minus the J. It was by far the driest peanut butter and bread I had ever had but it was absolutely hilarious. I might have to do the same next time I go travel; hike up a hill with some peanut butter and bread. An interesting I discovered was what ends up making a good “adventure”. It was anything that involved at least a bit of effort to do or get to. Hiking up the little hill took some effort, and that bit made it fun.

I rather liked this shot, probably has something to do with things in tandem

Next up was a volcanic crater we went to. I totally skipped that before and it was pretty great walking around that. Afterwards, I ended up following them to their hotel and decided “screw it, I’m just going to splurge on a place to stay tonight”. I couldn’t be bothered to drive all the way to Selfoss just to get a cheaper place to stay. As a spoiler, I’m quite glad I did splurge.

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 4

What happened in day four? Well, it’s been a while since I actually thought about it so here it goes. Day four was the day I went ice caving. What I didn’t mention in the previous post was the benefit of interacting around with other people who are also traveling. You can easily learn some new information. In my case, I learned that a hostel called Vagnsstaðir was actually open for business. When I looked on the website before, it was closed for the winter. This was beneficial because it meant that I didn’t have to drive back and forth between Vik and the southeastern part of Iceland (going back and forth 200kms or so). That and the option of sleeping in a car overnight…

Other than that, it was a very long drive to get to the meeting point for my ice caving tour. It was something I was looking forward to and one of the few things on this trip that wasn’t flexible. The tour started off well enough. Some of us were able to drive our cars to an area somewhat close to wear the cave was, then got into a large van for the final leg of the journey. Being that it was full of people, I found it a bit strange that no one was really talking with each other. Everyone was already with someone else, so I guess I found it strange because I’d been traveling alone for so long already and longed for some social contact. I’ll admit that. Though we were all probably thinking about the photos we’d take in the ice cave. Would I go ice caving again? Yes. With a tour group? Not so much. I would say that I’d spend the extra money to get a private guide.

Ice cave entrance

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Being inside an ice cave was both an underwhelming and overwhelming experience. I was expecting so much more and the cave still blew me away in its own special way. If you haven’t gotten it yet, an ice cave is underneath a glacier. It is what the name suggests. A cave that is formed by the surrounding ice of a glacier. Such things are only around for so long and once that part of the glacier melts away, it’s gone. The ice cave walls were a mesmerizing blue to the eyes, forming no specific shape as small grooves littered its surface. The sounds of footsteps crunching along the snow and gravel faintly echoed as they bounced along the uniquely shaped ice walls. The small stream trickled along, following the path of the ice cave to its mouth. It was calming.

DCIM101GOPROA lower angle of some ice

DCIM101GOPROPicturesque looking I’d say

It was a place I wanted to explore more of and stay longer in. Had I fully waterproof boots, I probably would have tried to walk further in along the stream; at the utmost annoyance to my guide because safety for him comes first.

DCIM101GOPRO

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Oh, and I got to see some glaciers too.

Glaciers

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 2

Day two felt much more pleasant to put it mildly. The morning started very early, 6am local time. At this point my brain was finally used to the idea that “hey guess what brain, you’re halfway across the world. Eight hour time zone difference!” Yeah ok, so I put together a really odd breakfast and chill around in the main gathering area. You know, do a few things on the computer, write in my journal, write a few more postcards. Basically I’m waiting around for the sun to start rising. First destination was: Seljalandsfoss. I’ve seen that name so many times now that I can type it without really thinking about it. It’s the waterfall that you can walk behind and was pretty cool to stand beside. Getting to the back though, was a different story. A lot of the water collected along the back corner and freezing temperatures from previous days made it extremely icy to put it mildly. Most of the pathway to the back was covered in a long sheet of ice. So as I am slowly making my way through the ice, a tour bus pulls in. I’m thinking “Oh hey I almost beat the rush of tourists…” This will be interesting. I make it safely to the back and as I’m setting up my gear I notice a rather large gaggle of tourists standing at the beginning of the earlier mentioned ice sheet. I stand there just looking at them wondering if any one of them will attempt to cross to the back. I watch one person after another attempt it, and then head back. It gave me a chuckle. One person did join me on the other side a little while later, it felt like a secret spot or such.

SeljalandsfossSeljalandsfoss from somewhere along the back

After all that was done, I left and headed off to Skogafoss. Waterfall number two. All in all, similar bit. Take pics, hike around and take more pics. Do some more exploring. I have to say that if I were here in the summer time, I’d be doing a lot more hiking. There are so many places to just go off and explore! One thing of note here though was that the moment I pulled into the Skogafoss area, yet another tour bus came in too. This time packed with a bunch of Asian tourists. I’m thinking “Hey cool! My people!” As I was taking pictures I was watching them. It was like watching a repetition of the same thing over and over. All of them would walk up to around the same point (close enough to get the waterfall in full on their cameras/phones), take pictures of the falls and of themselves/friends. Rinse and repeat. Then everyone would head back to the bus one by one. I thought that was intriguing. I had a discussion about this particular pattern with some people in my hostel later on in the day. Maybe I’ll talk about that later.

Skogafoss TouristsSkogafoss with the tourists

After all that, I went straight to the next hostel in Vik. Good thing I did because the moment I left Skogafoss it started pouring. And I mean pouring! Ended up safe at Vik Hostel and met a lot of new friends along the way. A couple from Vancouver (of all places to meet), a group of French lads, and a group of friends travelling from Europe (but are from Asia originally). After just this little bit, I have to say that driving around in Iceland is fantastic. The landscape changes by the minute and there’s always something different to see.

Random locationThere’s always a nice place to just randomly pull over and think

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