Dear Telli & Pau of the future,
If you are reading this, we are in 2040 and you both are 50, we are going to remember for you the amazing trip we had got in Iceland.
We just come back home from this incredible trip, a trip through a very mysterious land, very very different from our, you know, Spain, the sun and beach land. Few months ago we made our engagement in Rome and we would to celebrate it under the Northern light, like a religious ritual, an spectacle we prayed to see in this adventure. You know how we are, or better, how we were, impulsive and travelers, like to discover the world, to get lost and live adventures, we thought that there is no place better than Iceland. We had got very clear goals for this travel:
- It was a road trip, our maximum was take as long as of kilometers we could in 12 days (finally it was 3284km)
- Go behind the Northern light wherever we could see it (thanks to apps, maps, predictions…)¡¡ Take pics oh it’s a lot!
- Watch whales! Yes, watch whales was one of our dreams, we tried it in North Spain. So you remember? It was impossible to see anything at all. Do you think we get it?
The first questions: How do we travel around the isle?
The world offered several alternatives, we could rent a car and travel staying in farms and hostels, we could also hire a guided tour by bus that would take us to all the points of interest or we could choose the FREEDOM to travel in a camper van that allowed us to sleep in spectacular places, taking the house on its back has many advantages but the main thing is the feeling of being able to do what you want when you want, travel miles of kilometers regardless of destination, stop and enjoy every corner as long as we wanted and that’s why Finally we decide renting a van for two people.
The Camper Van
Our van was amazing, you don’t know the feeling when we got the keys and they told us that they had everything, heating to sleep warm, a huge mattress where to sleep comfortably, camping gas, space for suitcases and what we liked most! WiFi!!! You don’t know what joy (maybe you both in the near future have WiFi in the whole world but in our time was a very precious good …).
Everything started in the capital, the hotel was located in the center of Reykjavík, very close to the cathedral, very close to the city center. We felt in the north already. After 2 days walking around the city and discovering every corner we were surprised by 3 things:
- No McDonalds, which we loved, that way we could discover the local food
- We found a Spanish restaurant with Iberian ham (oh my god 🙂 )
- Live music inside the cathedral played with the largest organ in Europe, wonderful to hear that octogenarian play with a unique feeling.
After 30 hours in the city a boy showed up at our hotel to take us directly to our van, there really started our adventure, we remembered how it was when we were shown, it was much bigger than we had imagined and the mattress was super comfortable , We had the feeling of being in our little house with wheels.
Buy groceries at Bónus and go north on the Ring Road.
10 things that we would love to remember of our trip
NORTHERN LIGHTS: When the sun went down we started looking for what we had really gone to find, the Northern lights, we turned on the Northern Lights app and we started looking at the clouds in the sky to find a clear place, looking and searching we arrived to Reykhólar where we went out with a hot coffee to lie on the grass facing the sky, things were seen, green, blue, whitish but we did not know if we were seeing well when suddenly the lights began to move all over the horizon, Sky was dyed with colors and shines and we could not believe it. All the information we had collected and all the tools we had used to search for it had it’s results. We had seen the northern lights the first day! So lucky! How incredible everything! Running we sent photos to our whole family and told them that we had many days to continue pursuing. We felt in the Twister movie when they went looking for tornadoes.
THE SEALS: first stop on the Snæfell peninsula, spectacular lunar landscape, small fishing ports and long beaches, what was our surprise when a man from the area told us that it was a good time to see seals? Seals! What luck, I wish we could see them, and there we went directly, the man told us that the secret was to sit and wait in silence and not too close and suddenly SURPRISE! A seal climbing a rock, how funny, and they started to appear more, it was the first time we saw them in freedom and it was a unique experience, we were alone and we felt like in a documentary of the BBC.
AKUREYRI: The northern capital, a place where we decided that we wanted to live in our life, beautiful and useful (with all the services you need), neither big nor small, quiet and with the best hot pools we tried Across the country and with a bookstore cafe on the main street where we spent over 2 hours drinking coffee and reading, we loved this leisure time style; in Spain things become more outdoors and therefore we do not have spaces as cool as this to enjoy a reading time.
THE WHALES: A few years ago we tried to make an exit to see whales in the Bay of Biscay but the weather did not allow it so, as it could not be otherwise, when we decided to go to Iceland we had the certainty that we were going to try it so we took the mobile, started looking for companies that offered this service until we found Whale Watching Arctic, we put on a jumpsuit (which I wish we had had throughout all the trip because it was perfect for Icelandic weather) and there was the boat, a boat that reminded us of an old advertisement of fish from Spain, Captain Pescanova.
At first we were a little afraid, the boat went up and down, up and down uncontrollably, but looking at the captain of the boat was so calm that we reassured, also being the safest country in the world would be very bad luck that we had a boat accident. As we entered the high seas we began to see whales, a lot of whales, super close to the boat, they would pull out their tail, they moved, they sank, they jumped … we were all looking forward to seeing more and when one saw one screamed, At 3! And then look at 5!. A unique experience that is very worthwhile, we recommend it to everyone and if you return you know, a trip through the North Sea to see huge animals that only transmit peace.
THE GLACIER: It’s incredible to think that 8% of Iceland’s eastern territory is pure and hard ice, you can access it with guided or snowmobile excursions. By your account to approach them you can do it by the tongue of the glacier, the best place to do it was one that we discovered by pure chance, and need, because we needed to stop to eat something, we did a walking tour, we were alone, very alone, and We walk a good time to take the best pictures, for two photographers like us this is paradise, no wastebasket where it should not be, no container, no children running, no playground, no car parked in the middle of your photo … .WE WERE TWO WEEKS IN PARADISE.
THE WATERFALL: A country full of waterfalls, natural monuments that have left us with open mouth, endless waterfalls to be photographed inside and outside. There is one of them in every corner, never lacking the water, clean, white and falling with great force.
HOT SWIMMING POOLS: One of this in each village? No matter how small? Yes sir! Spectacular facilities in every town or city to make people enjoy themselves, to exercise, to improve their health and to socialize. We loved being able to rest every afternoon in a hot pool with mountain views, inside 30 degrees, outside -3 degrees, what a feeling!
THE DESERTS: In a moment we passed from a green landscape, full of moss, to one that we had not seen in our life, Where were we? On the moon? Brown, gray, white and not a single plant, only great waterfalls falling through the landscape that looked like enormous craters … 80 kilometers of desert to the northeast of the country, with a very strong wind and with the desire that it never ends, we have a few photos for NASA from this place.
THE SURPRISING STATISTICS: We do not know if you remember but what caught our attention in Iceland at the beginning were its statistics, a country with a small population, a country that has fought for its rights and to avoid a very strong crisis, a country with an incredible literacy rate, the country where most books are read in the world, with low crime rates and an enviable quality of life. Coming from Spain I think they can only want our sun.
BLUE LAGOON: And to finish our trip a wonderful experience to gather strength to return home, to the routine of day to day, if you come back has to be the first stop and the last.
If you come to Iceland again…
- Refuel your camper whenever you can, you would be surprised by the extensions of terrain that you travel without seeing civilization
- Sleep near the hot pools of each of the villages to be able to take a shower in the morning and give you a spectacular bath
- Camping sites open in winter
- App to search for Aurora Borealis
- Cloud map for Iceland
- Good socks
- Something you can not miss, chocolate, the ones that are yellow
- You will spend a lot of time alone, enjoy it because going back to the harsh reality is very hard, getting into the subway and having no space to breathe makes you wonder why the fuck you took the plane back.
- The police are nice and ready to help
- Now we want to make a smile with a beautiful memory, remember how you felt during all that trip … The King in the North.
See you again Iceland! For sure!
Paula Cardeñoso & Fernando Quintas
Read more: Backpackers in Iceland
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