Friday, September 20, 2013

Iceland Without a Plan: Days 1 & 2

About three weeks after getting back from my last trip in May, I bought a one-way ticket to Reykjavik. A month later, I booked five days in a hostel. And that was it. I did no research. I booked no tours or busses or anything. I didn't have any contacts. I barely even glanced at a map.

Just before I left, I started to panic a little bit and felt like I should at least google stuff to do in Iceland, but I suppressed the urge and went on with the planless plan. Thank goodness I did that. Because you know what? Coming to Iceland without an itinerary has developed itself into some of the best travel experiences I've ever had.

I spent my first full day in the "big" city of Reykjavik, wandering around in a jet-lagged daze. I tried to walk up and down the more populated streets with shops and cafes lining the sides, but despite the violent wind, I kept getting drawn to the edge of the water and the gorgeous view of this huge snow-topped mountain, looming over the bay.

I needed to be out there. Out where there is little-to-no civilization and nothing but more mountains and endless ocean and fields. I couldn't believe my luck when that night at the Kex Hostel, I met a Canadian couple and an Australian guy who had the same desire to escape the city, and invited me along with them to rent a car and drive through the country for a few days. I cancelled the final 3 days of my stay in Reykjavik and off we went.

We first headed South towards the city of Vik. What was supposed to be a 2 1/2 hour drive turned into a 6 hour journey with too many scenic stops to count. The day trip there and back included a race up a mini-mountain with the most stunning view from the top,

developing a bitterness towards waterfalls after visiting the famous Seljalandsfoss and, with a huge gust of wind, getting the entire load of water dumped right on top of me,

a lot of sheep,

and hours of walking barefoot on sparkling black-sand beaches.

I knew after one day of exploring that this place had something magic about it. I can't even seem to describe it without using boatloads of clichés and over-reaching metaphors, so I'll just leave it at this: Iceland is purely and perfectly beautiful and I'm not sure if I have seen anywhere else in the world that can compare. You just have to arrive with a loose schedule, an open mind, the yearning to find inspiration, and the rest will fall into place.

Well, it has worked out so far...
More adventure to come.

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