Before booking my trip to Iceland, the only thing I really knew about it was that it had a huge volcanic eruption back in 2010 and what I had seen in the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I also knew that they had a badass ice-hockey team, courtesy of my childhood viewing of D2: The Mighty Ducks. I guess you could say that I didn’t know too much.
It’s funny how things work out, though. I had booked my flights to Iceland and was set to head up there by myself but I received birthday messages from Alessandro, who I met in Miami about two-and-a-half years ago, and also from Steph, who I met in Antarctica earlier this year. It was nice to hear from them and after telling them my plans, their holidays aligned and they both decided to join me for the trip! Aless hails from Luzern in the German part of Switzerland, whilst Steph is French-Swiss, living just outside of Lausanne.
Steph and I flew out of Geneva for the 10-day trip, whilst Aless met us over there, although a few days delayed after missing his flight from Switzerland! We decided it would be best to hire a car and explore the island by ourselves and we drove more than 2,870kms, which encompassed most of the south, the western peninsula, part of the western fjord and through the north – we only missed out on a small section of completing the ‘ring road’ around the island because of the volcano that was spewing molten lava in the east.
I hadn’t driven since leaving home and I was a little wary before getting behind the wheel, not only because of the icy conditions, which I hadn’t really experienced before, but also driving on the ‘other side’ of the road for only the second time in my life. It was fine, mostly, and I only turned onto the wrong side of the road twice. Haha.
The Five Senses of Iceland
Iceland smells like volcanoes. There was an active volcano spewing lava and although we didn’t drive that close to it, the wind always seemed to be blowing in our direction and the sulfur was quite pungent. Volcanoes smell exactly as you think they would.
Iceland feels like freedom. Having a car and being able to jump in it and just drive was amazing. Not relying on public transport and checking schedules gave us the ultimate freedom. I was ridiculously happy all of the time. Happiness really is freedom.
Iceland tastes like apéro. Apéro is pre-dinner drinks and nibbles and it was an integral part to our days in Iceland. A couple of cold, albeit very expensive beers were always nice after a long day of driving and sightseeing.
Iceland sounds like music. No road trip is complete without good music, and although Steph might not have always enjoyed the music that Aless and I served up, the tunes always got me going!
Iceland looks like landscapes. The landscapes in Iceland are unparalleled to anywhere I’ve been before. The crunchy lava fields from erupted volcanoes look like stuff that is better suited to the moon, whilst the waterfalls are just stunning. I found myself constantly staring out of the window in awe of the spectacular scenery.
The highlight of Iceland for me was definitely the Northern Lights, which I’ve already written about, but the most memorable part was sharing a road trip with two good friends. It wasn’t about the sites we had to see, but more about the landscapes and driving from town to town and trying to find accommodation once we arrived. It was spontaneous and I loved it. I also didn’t expect to travel with Steph or Aless again, but sharing experiences with people who you get along with and have a connection makes it that much better.
Country number 50 – Iceland… Check! Finally, I’ve racked up 50 countries!