Signs of Iceland
It started one day: I began getting “signs” that I had to go to Iceland. No joke.
For instance one day I was reading about whether it is acceptable to put ANY ingredient on a pizza, and still call it a pizza, and the article mentions that Iceland’s president had jokingly said that he would ban pineapple on pizzas if he could. Then another day, I’m reading about an early earthquake alert system (I am Chilean and Chile is a land of frequent earthquakes). Turns out the system had been developed by Icelandic scientists. Then I casually saw a documentary about Iceland on Chilean national TV. All I knew about Iceland is that it is cold, that it is one of the smaller countries in the world, and that it is Björk’s land.
My holidays were approaching, and I had resolved to go visiting relatives of mine in Sweden, which is already quite far away from Chile. So I decided to add another Nordic country to the itinerary.
Iceland: Here I come!
No hotel would do the trick for me, since I figured, Iceland is all about being on the move: go down a volcanic crater, go to a hot spring, go to a geyser, go whale watching, meet the Puffins, go to a museum, a church, go to Perlan, the geothermal exhibitions, it’s a lot about being free. So a fixed accommodation would not do.
Enter Rent.is: I booked online and they were waiting for me upon arrival at Keflavik airport. Kind people they are, as everybody in Iceland: the friendliest country in the world I was told. The camper van had all I needed: mini gas stove, drinking water tank, sleeping bag, mattress, chairs and table, WiFi and GPS, Bluetooth radio, interior lights, cruise speed control. And it was very well taken care of.
So 25 minutes after exiting the airport, I have the great Icelandic outdoors all at my disposal.
It was great. Since Iceland is in the middle of summer, the days were very long. And the activities so many that it was easy to lose track of time. It did not matter. The camper van gave me flexibility. If I got hungry, I ate. If I got tired, I slept. if fuel was running low, I pumped some more. On certain mornings I just felt like relaxing at the campsite, talking to other fellow travelers, exchanging experiences and impressions of this land, while on other days I felt like waking up as fast as I could and having a quick shower in a rush to get to see more wonderful sights.
While on the road, I looked out the window, and 90% of the time there was a postcard view outside. I looked ahead, and the road stretches inviting me to discover more.
Everyday something exiting:
The Blue Lagoon, a pretty mystical place with steam rising from its milky blue water in a setting surrounded by volcanic rocks. Tourists covered in white silica mud masks relaxing in the naturally warm waters while sipping a cold beverage. It does not get more relaxing than that.
The Kerið crater, certainly an otherworldly looking location: when I went there a photo shoot with fashion models was going on, and I can assume it happens often because it’s a notorious spot.
Cute horses like I’ve never seen before, I find out later they are a breed specific to Iceland…
The Lava Tunnel: a geologist’s paradise I’m sure. With a well built footpath for the tourists to explore safely, and lights here and there that do not distract from the natural attractiveness of the cave but rather effectively highlight the beauty of the colors of the rock walls and roofs of the tunnel.
Snorkeling at the Silfra rift: That was wonderful, it has to be as it is said by the locals “the most transparent waters in the world”. Anyway since water is not air, it is not as transparent as if the water was not there. It is prettier. Because the rocks appear to be dyed with this deep blue hue, especially when you look at those at a certain distance. Plus it’s challenging to the mind trying to assimilate the fact that this crack in the rocks is actually the boundary between two tectonic plates no less! The park were Silfra is located is a collection of memorable landscapes. Beautiful as it can get.
The geyser: no wonder all geysers owe their name to this one. The father of all geysers. Amazing sight watching it erupting every few minutes, highly satisfying capturing on video or photos.
The decent to the volcano magma chamber: memories to behold from this experience, not many people have been there and what you see inside is awe inspiring, unforgettable for sure.
After about half of the days I had available for Iceland, I felt like going back to civilization a bit. I had overlooked Reykjavik a little up to that moment. But hey, I was wrong! Harpa concert hall is magnificent. Truly world class architecture. A walk by the sea between Harpa and the Solar Navigator monument is not a memory that will fade easily. Then there’s the Kolaportið flea market where I figured i could find something really unique to bring home. I went there twice. The second time having already decided what I would buy myself. But pity it was closed, it only opens on weekends it seems.
The reason I had overlooked Reykjavík is because mistakenly, I had assumed that a city with a population of just around 130.000 could not be too thrilling, but clearly i should have known better. The shops, the restaurants, the pizza places, the bars, the hard rock café, all the quality edible and drinkable deliciousness to be expected in any big city. The souvenir stores, full of high quality mostly handmade mementos of Iceland. Almost no Chinese generic plastic disposable items.
The Hallgrímskirkja church is stunning, and my set of wheels gave the freedom to visit it several times so I could get pictures of it in the daytime as well as in the night. It turned out to be even more beautiful when it is dark, and the building is all lit up. Such style, such grace.
The museum of rock and roll, “has to be worth it” I thought. I had vague references of it. To my surprise it is located in Keflavik, not Reykjavik, the GPS shows. No problem, the camper van took me there. And the museum delivers. Even though i have to admit, regarding Icelandic music, I only knew Björk. But still, the museum managed to show me the richness of the Icelandic pop and rock music scene.
Read more: Reykjavik Travel Guide
That same day, I went to the Laugardalslaug geothermally heated public swimming pool. Again, good experience, I had been feeling cold the last couple of days so diving into warm water was a very rewarding sensation. All of these things I could do, all of this experience I could gather in no small part because of having chosen a camper van as a way of exploring Iceland. It gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction not to depend on a tight schedule. And to a certain point “designing” my Icelandic adventure as i went.
The internet device in the camper van was removable, which was great because I could take it with me when not on the road, so I was constantly in touch with those I care about in Chile. Even in the wildest locations. (Internet access at Gullfoss waterfall?, you’ve got it!)
I finished my holiday physically exhausted but with a renewed spirit. Thank you Iceland and Rent.is! This land may be cold but it is full of warm and kind people. I will remember this trip for many, many years.
Read more: Iceland without kids
Happy Camping! #CamperStories
Iceland Travel Guides
If you like what you see, please subscribe to our YouTube channel!