Mature age solo traveller
Perfect for the mature age solo traveller
Travelling in a campervan across Iceland has been a dream of mine for many years. I live in Australia and our country and camping opportunities are nothing to sniff at, I own a small camper myself, but the cold beauty of Iceland is without a match. A friend of mine said that it seems like Hawaii, only with heaps of snow, glaciers and geysers, and he does have a point, of course. The black sand beaches, the pointy mountains … but everything else is uniquely Scandinavian down to the wool sweaters and the hospitality.
I followed the Ring road like everyone else, tried to get up in the morning to reach the tourist attractions before the ‘bus people’ got there and travelled across the most amazing landscape I had imagined since I was a teenager reading novels about the people there and their unique ponies and way of life. I’m now in my 50s and cannot imagine another way of travel, to be honest. Most folks I met where couples in their twenties or thirties, spending the last few holidays together before nesting, building a home together and having kids. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I believe more people my age would enjoy this way of travelling. And it’s low budget, of course. I’m a public school teacher with lots of holidays and little money, but the freedom this type of travelling offers is bar none. I can do what I what, when I want it and where I want, pretty much.
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I saw a sheep getting run over in front of a farmer’s eyes who tried desperately to save it and herd it back behind a fence. I had stopped the camper van to be of assistance (I grew up on a farm myself and know a thing or two about the relationships between beast and man), but the little I could do was not enough for one escapee. The others survived and ran across the field like chased by the devil, but this one poor creature went flying in the air and landed on the asphalt after a massive truck crashed into it. Apparently the truck driver now had to pay for the dead sheep, those are the law of the land.
I saw Northern Lights dancing across the water just outside Drangsnes, wearing two sleeping bags and drinking hot tea for 3 hours to stay warm. I just left the comfort of my bed for natural reasons at about 2am and saw a little green light appear that slowly turned into something so magical and sublime I gawked and danced and cried because of its beauty and that I was alive to see this awesome spectacle. Not too many things deserve the word ‘awe’, but this experience sure does. I also cursed myself quietly for not reading my new camera’s manual properly. The photos I was able to take are only little green lines on a black background. When I realised my failure to set the camera up properly, I stopped taking pictures and enjoyed the show without further ado. Just watched the colours and felt utterly at peace. I know this sounds crazy, but I saw three shooting stars that night as well, breaking through the green and purple of the Nordlys. (editor’s note: Nordlys is the Danish and Norwegian word for northern lights). When I was a child we were told that we had a wish that would come true whilst seeing a shooting star, and at my age now, I considered my wishes wisely. I really hope they become true.
I saw a small, scruffy looking dog in the middle of nowhere walking on the side of the road one morning. I have dogs myself, and Australia is known for its sheepdogs as well, but this one was most certainly not a sheepdog. I first drove by coming to terms with what I had seen but stopped and reversed back to it. This was in the North Iceland area, on a gravel/dirt road around Hrisey. I didn’t mean to go that far, and the attraction of whale watching is not as fascinating to me since I live close to the South Coast of New South Wales and watch whales migrate up and down the coast twice a year. I sound flippant and arrogant, I know, but it’s something I see and look forward to at home. However, I was in search of a camping ground the night before and ended up that way. I stopped the car and had a look at the dog. The vast nothingness of Iceland surrounded us and I remember fighting with myself, thinking ‘you can’t take that dog home, Heidi. You can’t!’, but it was so cute! It devoured my second breakfast and hopped onto the driver’s seat after I placed a few towels on it for protection and comfort.
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We looked at each other and I decided to just keep on driving until I found a homestead where I turned, parked the car and whilst I was doing that an older man appeared at the front steps. I speak a little bit of Danish, and I have been able to communicate with Icelanders that way in the past over the period of my travels, but this man was talking in a dialect beyond my comprehension and I had no idea what was going on. He gestured, I gestured, the dog barked … all of us tried to make the other understand why we were there and what we wanted to do. Very funny. After a while I figured out that the dog belonged to someone in the community. The man disappeared inside the house and soon after another vehicle approached and an older women in gumboots came towards me with the biggest smile on her face. Needless to say, the dog ran towards her and both seemed very happy to see each other. I have no idea how long the dog was missing, what happened, why it was in the middle of nowhere about 20km away, but his owner, the farmer and I had quite a chat. I showed them photos of Australia and my Bull-Mastiff and Great Dane. They were chatting away, smiling and telling me god-knows-what but in this instance I didn’t feel like the tourist I was. I felt welcomed and of use in this wonderful and stark country.
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The amazing things Iceland had to offer to me on my short visit are more memorable than taking photos of the famous waterfalls.
I will be back, no doubt. Renting a campervan has offered me the freedom to experience these connections with people I would never have found elsewhere on a group travel or however else most people travel at my age. Next time, I will bring my partner and more time 🙂
Read more: Iceland in 7 days
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