After recovering from one of the more miserable travel experiences I’ve had, Ariel, Jacob and I wasted little time hitting the road on days 2 and 3 of our Iceland adventure.
For the first time since our trip to Alaska (which perhaps not-so-coincidentally was the last time we were going away in advance of a baby), Ariel and I have been immersing ourselves in just totally epic landscapes all day every day. Sure Hawaii was beautiful and incredible, but this is our first old-school style adventure trip since New Zealand where we are staying at a different place every night except for two. Which means we’re basically living on the road and following my adventure protocols nearly every single day.
So far this country is everything it’s been cracked up to be – and more. But be warned, when they tell you Iceland (in summer) can be “rainy” whoa boy did we ever find that out today. But more on that in a minute.
On our first morning in the country, it was time to hit the road and leave Reykjavik behind. We’re not big city people (we get enough of that in NJ and NYC) when we travel, but we really found Reykjavik to be a charming place! I wouldn’t have minded having a full day there. But we are on a mission on this trip, and that mission is to see waterfalls, mountains (MOUNTAINS Gandalf!), geysers, and volcanoes, oh my! Oh, and trolls and elves if we can find any.
So we started off heading towards Thingvellir National Park and it didn’t take long before we got our first genuine view of the trip.
The park itself was really nice, although a little overcrowded for our tastes. The highlight was definitely being able to do some mild hiking along the Continental Divide between North America and Europe. There are much more advanced hikes people were going on, and I’m sure once you get away from the parking lots you can get out on your own. But for me the highlight was the waterfall on the outskirts of the park since we had it all to ourselves.
One note – the waterfall and the park in general (but especially the waterfall) was W-I-N-D-Y windy. Like enough to take your hat off your had and push you a bit. Seems like the whole country is pretty windy, and maybe it was just because I wasn’t really used to it yet, but when I opened my door at the waterfall parking lot I thought the wind might take it off.
From Thingvellir we headed up to the second place we stayed, the Lava Water Resort. This place was great – the cottage was really nice, the dinner buffet was tremendous (the cook even made a grilled cheese sandwich special for Jacob since it was his favorite food), and they had an amazing geothermally heated saltwater pool, which was great because we had it to ourselves. Also somehow it didn’t feel cold getting out of the hot water, I’m not sure how that’s possible since I’m usually cold just getting out of a pool in the summer.
Today… well… there’s not really a whole lot to say about today other than… Rainland. The forecast said it would be raining and our plan was to go to the Snaefellsnes Penninsula and like… I think we went there? There were signs that said we were there. And the Kirkjufell hill (the picture at the top of the post, which was apparently in Game of Thrones, although I don’t remember when?) was there. But ah… we didn’t really see any of it!
Because you see, it wasn’t just “raining” it was full on, vertical-sheets-of-water, open-the-car-and-get-instantly-drenched, monsoon weather. Just nonstop. I would say our visibility was was maybe half a mile at most for 80% of the day. We didn’t even see the thing the area is named for! The only one good thing was that the rain flooded every valley with mountain runoff, which meant we were driving through a valley full of waterfalls.
After an instantly-aborted attempt to climb up a dormant volcano (literally we didn’t even get out of the parking lot), we decided to just drive around the park in the hopes the weather would improve and we could try and get out again. But it did not. If anything, it got worse as the day wore on. The only thing we ended up doing was Songhellir cave, which was really cool to experience as a family. There are two caves, one has really crazy echoes that Jacob really liked, while the other one was bigger and we could go into, get out of the rain, and pretend we found a magic ring.
One thing to keep in mind that I learned the hard way – if you don’t stop for gas in the park, the next option isn’t for about 60 kilometers. That may not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot of uphill, downhill and curves. So even though my range said about 110 km left when we passed the last gas station, by the time we got to the next station I was on empty and the car stopped estimating how much longer I could drive. So yeah, those last 5 kilometers were a little dicey!
After we filled up, we decided there wasn’t much use trying to do anything outside, so I just headed towards where we were staying for the night. 3 hours later of rain/wind-drenched misery (only interrupted by a 10 minute drive through a very long and winding tunnel), we got to the next cottage we’re staying in.
After dinner at a local restaurant though, the sun miraculously came out, so we went for a little drive back the way we came to bask in some of my favorite landscape scenery of all.
It was so nice to just see the sun again after an entire soaking, sopping, horrible weather day.
Now tomorrow looks like it may be another washout, but I can’t really imagine we would have two relentless days in a row like this.