The Ring road clockwise
We are a 36 year’s old Canadian couple, Caroline and Francis, who have just met a year and a half ago. This year we went big: he moved with me, we adopted a dog and we had our first trip together longer than a romantic gateway. I have traveled quite a bit. My boyfriend had some experience too. So when it was the time to decide our destination, we had to choose a country that we were both interested to visit and that neither of us have already seen. We both agreed on Iceland.
Francis and I have so much fun together and love each other with a capital “L”, but we are pretty different. He is the laid back, patient and listener one. I am his organized, energetic and talkative alter-ego. He wanted a “no reservation, go with the flow” type of vacation. I would rather have a well planned trip. My travel guide (as well as every good travel sites on the web) says that you have to book your accommodations in advance in Iceland. So, I was a bit worried that I would like to sleep on a bench in a park and freeze to death.
That is when I came up with the idea to rent a camper (and also when we looked at the accommodation price in Iceland). With a camper, we can go wherever we want and always have a place to sleep. On paper, we were not convinced that it would be comfortable (we are 36 and are getting used to coziness). On trial, our diesel camper with its WiFi, heating system and big enough bed to fit my 6’2’’ (168 cm) boyfriend was comfy.
As our journey started mid-September, we decided to do our Ring road clockwise to visit the North part of the island while the weather was warmer. Visiting at this time of the year has its pros and cons. There are fewer visitors (especially in the West and North part where it is calmer) and it is less expansive but the Puffins are gone and the weather is cooler. As Canadians, we are used to cold, so we brought warm clothes and with the heating systems in our camper, we were fine. Moreover, the camper has heating seats which I think I became addicted to (my next car has to have those). Not surprising for an Island, we had a few days of rain. We were so happy that we have not chosen to camp with tents and very compassionate for those who did. With my enormous yellow sailing gear, I was totally dry but definitely out of style. Francis nicknamed it the “Big bird” as in the Sesame Street Kids’ show. We were told that the wind might be strong, be we were not expecting as much. One night, the wind was so intense, that the camper was shaking. The next morning it was still bad. We checked the weather forecast over the internet and there was a wind alert. We decided to stay in bed and take it easy until it become calmer to hit the road.
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We arrived in Iceland with no plan but to spend the first night in Akranes. As I was checking out the camping sites before our arrival, I saw a beautiful picture of Akranes with its view over the sea. Moreover, it is really close to Reykjavik and we figured that after a night flight and four hours of jet-lag, it will be nice to start slow. It was also the perfect stop because the grocery stores and restaurants were a step away. Akranes is a nice small city. We visited one of its lighthouses but we could also have done some good horseback riding and hiking. Instead, we were eager to see what else Iceland has to offer so we took the road the next morning.
To choose our next camping sites and activities to do, Francis and I were a well-oiled machine. While Francis was looking over the internet, I was looking in my Lonely Planet, in some local travel guide (there are one for each region) and in a camping booklet. We discovered on the spot that September 15th is an important date. Most of the camping sites are closed and the camping card is not sold anymore. Despite that, there were enough camping sites opened to have a wonderful trip and see everything we wanted to.
Our favorite regions were the West and the North ones. It is less crowded, the landscapes are stunning and, if you are lucky (like us), you could see northern lights. We visited a geothermal source (Deildartunguhver) and saw many breath taking waterfalls. Our highlight was the Víðgelmir Cave. It was spectacular and the tour was interesting and colorful. We had our first Icelandic geothermal spa at Lýsuhólslaug. The water was thick and a greenish gray color because it is full of minerals and algae. It was kind of strange but very relaxing and good for the skin.
The East and South region had many different things to offer: craters, lava fields, glaciers and icebergs, geysers and more waterfalls. We miss the famous Blue Lagoon because Francis thought that a reservation three days in advance was early enough (I love him anyway). Instead, we went to the less crowded Secret lagoon (which is not a secret anymore) with its natural environment background.
Vacations are a time to rest but also to reconnect with nature, our inner self and our love ones. A road trip in Iceland was a great way to do it. With the camper, we had no TV, no Netflix, and no other distractions (we figure out a way to entertain ourselves, if you know what I mean). We had nothing plan ahead. The camping forces us to go at a slow pace. For example, you cannot rush the water to boil on the gas oven. It was just Francis and I in a stunning environment having fun moments together.
Caroline & Francis
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