Iceland was never really on my travel list, especially not for this trip. I don’t know much about the country and it’s so far away from Australia that it’s not worth considering unless you’re already spending time in Europe. However, Emily and I wanted to travel together again and Iceland somehow seemed like the perfect halfway point.
We landed after our 6am flight with 40kg of luggage, around 25 of that being food. We had done our research and knew our credit cards were in for a shock so helped the situation by stocking up on groceries in England so that most of our meals for the two weeks would be sorted. We picked up our campervan and unpacked our food and important luggage into the limited storage space supplied, putting our bags in the cupboard beneath the bed ready to be taken out at the end of the road trip.
Our plan was to leave Reykjavik immediately and spend our last few days there in an Airbnb. The golden circle was first on the itinerary; the iconic, can’t-miss aspect to Iceland which makes the shortest of itineraries. It was overwhelming at first; taking in the beautiful scenery, learning to drive on the right hand side of the road and navigating through the abundance of tourists which came from all over the world. Thankfully the drive was only a couple of hours and there were only four stops involved in the golden circle so we could spend the first, somewhat jet lagged day settling in. The sky had turned gray but didn’t deter from the wonders we found ourselves at, impressed and unsure what to expect from the rest of Iceland, the areas less traveled.
Accompanying the sightseeing was the cold weather. Coming from Africa which often treated me to too much sun I was shocked to find myself layered up and still struggling. A visiting friend from Sydney had brought me a few thermal shirts that my parents helped organise for me, and thankfully I had borrowed a couple of extra jumpers from Emily, otherwise I’m unsure how I would have coped. Thankfully the back of the van – our bedroom, living room and storage room – had adequate heating, something we turned on before bed to heat the place to boiling point making sleep an easier feat. Most mornings the sun would come out; making it easier to get out of our sleeping bags, up and dressed and cooking porridge on our portable stove before setting off for the day. Unfortunately by the afternoon the weather would generally turn cold again, forcing us to put on more layers if we were to venture out of the car and making dinner a quick job in what limited shelter the campsite may provide or a van job as long as we were careful not to spill anything (or set fire to anything).
The varying temperatures based on time of day surprised me considering there is no real ‘night time’, the sun sets at 11pm or so and rises again around 3am, although having woken up once or twice during these times I’ve learnt that it never actually goes below the horizon, so it’s never completely dark and therefore, in my eyes, never actually night time. For the first couple of nights I was quite disorientated by this, coming from Australia and the countries I’ve been to in Africa for that matter, where the sun would start to set around 6 and would always be completely dark by 8. The fact that I was eating dinner, getting ready for bed and then actually going to bed all while it was still looking like the middle of the afternoon was ridiculous to me.