Iceland Adventure

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The Common Wanderer has been fairly silent lately. But You know how there’s a “quiet period” before a stock IPO or earnings report? Let’s say that’s what this was.

But now that I’m on my way, let the floodgates open.

I’m going to Iceland, land of trolls, sagas, and unpronounceable volcanoes. It’s one of those bucket list kind of things. I’ve been fascinated by the country for years. The windswept otherworldly landscape, the rugged yet cosmopolitan population, all of whom appear to either play in a band or write poetry or novels. Or both. (Iceland has the most authors and musicians, per capita, of any country in the world.) I’ve wanted to visit the place where the first domino fell in the global financial collapse–a spectacular implosion. It’s also the country that chose the first democratically elected female head of state, and the first openly gay head of state (who also happened to be a woman).

Most of all, I wanted to photograph the country. Every photo I’ve ever seen of Iceland is stunning. It would appear that you can’t take a bad picture there. Red-roofed churches pop against a barren backdrop with snow-covered peaks hanging on the horizon while wild-looking ponies enter and exit the frame at a trot. Bubbling blue water percolates in ubiquitous hot springs. And thousands of birds peer from cliff-side dwellings where they nest in striations according to specie, with razorbills at the bottom, puffins on the top, and guillemots and kittiwakes in between.

And so, I’m going. I don’t think I have nearly enough money saved up to do this trip (I knew it was an expensive country but I didn’t know quite how expensive it turns out to be). And there are always obligations back home. But if I keep looking for excuses not to do this, I never will.

I’ve got two weeks. I’ll be in Reykjavik for a couple of nights to get my bearings and then I’m thinking I may fly north to Akureyri, make my way to Husavic, where there’s a great whaling museum, and possibly take the ferry to Grimsey, an island that sits above the Arctic Circle. From there, my rough plan is to make my way back down to Reykjavik along the western flank of the country, with lots of wandering and a possible stop at the Arctic Fox center.

Here’s the weather for the next few days in Reykjavik:

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But really I have no agenda. Just time to be photographing, to be outside, and to be alone. It’s been a long time since I went somewhere far away and unknown (to me) by myself. The last time I went on a long solitary adventure, I met Adrian, on the beach in Southern Thailand. Good things happen when you allow yourself to be alone. At the very least, I find, one reconnects with loneliness, an unpleasant but motivating emotion.

I’m hoping not to have much time for loneliness on this trip. And, after all, it’s only two weeks. But I am looking forward to anonymity and time to think. And time to just be myself, to remember who I am when I’m not looking at my own reflection in the view of those who know me.

I hope to find Internet connections and to post initial photos here during the trip. So stay tuned!

But first, I have to eat enough snacks and drink enough beverages to pay back my one-day pass to the Sky Miles lounge. I figured it was worth it, with an 11 hour layover. But I’m still a budget traveler at heart (and wallet) so I’ve got to get my money’s worth.

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18 Responses to Iceland Adventure

  1. Castle Freeman, Jr., Newfane says:

    Jane, what a trip! I bet you will have a memorable and rich walkabout. Piece of advice: take something to read besides the Sagas……Bon Voyage……Castle

  2. Amanda Warren says:

    I just returned from a 10 day Iceland adventure, and I honestly already want to go back. You are in for such a treat. The steam vents in and around Mývatn are other worldly and the puffin colony in Borgarfjörður Eystri is pretty wonderful as well.

    Enjoy the midnight sun!

    • Ooh, thanks for the tips, Amanda! Any other places you liked? Food, museums, etc. and were you able to do it without breaking the bank?

      • Amanda Warren says:

        Don’t bother withe the blue lagoon, but the Myvatn nature baths were a highlight for me…not as pricey and very mellow and relaxing! If you do go to that area, eat at the Vogafjos (ie ‘cow shed’) cafe for some fresh milk and geysir bread ice cream! It’s just about 2km from the baths. I also really, really enjoyed driving through the South and the Eastern Fjords. The town of Sunnuhlíð has one of the best handknit sweater shops I saw. The knitting ladies don’t speak English though (sort of refreshing actually) so be prepared! Also the black sand beaches in Vik were beautiful. And driving the ring road in that region you can see Vatnajökull calving ice bergs into glacial lakes. I didn’t make it to the western fjords–that’s my next trip! And when you get back to Reykjavik, Icelandic Fish and Chips is a good dinner…but if you really want to treat yourself, check out Fishmarket. It’s worth the hype!

        • Thanks Amanda! Tomorrow I’m flying to Akureyri and I’ll pick up a car there. I think I’ll go to Husavik and then back around the west coast-so maybe I’ll be able to give you some tips for your next trip!

          I actually went to Fish and Chips yesterday and loved it. Good to know that Fishmarket is worth the hype. I was wondering. Maybe on my last night!

  3. Looking forward to all of the photos!

  4. Iceland was a dream vacation for me – and it was even better than I had hoped it would be! Serously phenomenal. We were there last year and you are correct about two things: everything photographs well and it it expensive. Check out our blog and it may give you some ideas of where to go. Also, I’d recommend looking into staying at hostels. We did and it turned out to be an economical choice. We had a private room in every one we stayed in so it wasn’t my stereotyped bunk bed type place. Enjoy!

    • Thanks! I’ll definitely check out your blog–I’m looking for any and all suggestions. And hostels are what I’m hoping for (if I can find any that aren’t full). Plus, I figure I might meet people that way!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This former world traveler definitely envies you this trip, Jane! Iceland has been of interest to me for a long time. Glad you’ve decided to “just do it”. And I suppose your hubby drew the short straw to stay home with the dog? ;-) We’ll miss you on the radio but you’ll come back all re-energized I’m sure. Will eagerly await your photos.

  6. Jo Woolf says:

    Iceland is high on our ‘must-visit’ list too – hope you have a great time!

  7. Rob says:

    I didn’t stay there but KEX Hostel in Reykjavik seems like a great place (it was used as an “off-venue” performance space during the music festival I was attending, so I spent a good amount of time there).

  8. Laura Scott says:

    Have fun and PLEASE, take a puffin photo!

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