I got up at around 8 and left at 9. It was still pitch dark and didn’t get lighter for another hour. My plan was just to explore Reykjavik, but Mum texted me to tell me that Simon, a family friend of ours, was in Iceland for work, so we arranged to meet for lunch. I walked up to Hallgrimskirja, the iconic cathedral, to take pics, then to the longship sculpture by the shore. From there I got some incredible views of the mountains.
A little bird flew up to me so I gave it some almonds and fish jerky. Later I found out it was called a redwing. The longship looked out to the sea and the mountains and faced the Reykjavik skyline the other way. While I was taking photos I slipped on the ice and did a big clumsy dance that went on for ages before actually falling. Bizarrely none of the other tourists seem to notice at all, they didn’t laugh or ask if I was ok!
Once I had recovered I explored Laugevagur, the hipster street that also had some great tourist tat shops. I picked out some postcards and went into a coffee shop to write them. Simon said he would meet me in a place called the noodle station a little further up Laugevagur. We met and he very kindly bought me some noodle soup with peanuts. He had been out drinking the night before so really it was nice for him to meet me at all! We got talking to an American couple sat next to us – Rusty and Lois from Colorado, who were on the last day of their trip. Simon and Rusty both had military backgrounds so they had a lot to talk about. Eventually they offered us a space in their car for their road trip, and I jumped at the chance! Simon still felt rough, so he declined.
Immediately when you drive out of the city you hit these incredible icy plains and mountains. There are tiny cabins here and there, and the odd caravan. There are lakes and rivers which were completely frozen and very sparsely dotted fir trees. Rusty and Lois joked that they were kidnapping me, but they were incredibly kind to invite me along! Before going, I had joked that I would just tag along on other people’s drives instead of paying for coach tours, who knew it would happen on the very first day! We stopped at a few random beauty spots that caught our attention to take pictures, then made our first real stop at the geyser. I tried to get a video of it blasting off, but it proved difficult, especially with my shaky camera work. We briefly stopped at Þingvellir, where the Eurasian and American tectonic plates meet. Lois very kindly bought me one of Iceland’s finest overpriced beers (a warning for anyone planning a visit – EVERYTHING in Iceland is overpriced!) and we picked out a few more beauty spots. Rust took a shirtless pic with the mountains in the background, which is especially brave when you consider it was so cold it felt like your eyeballs would freeze. We also stopped to greet some incredibly cute Icelandic ponies, though one of them bit my arm!
They very nicely drove me back to the Bus Hostel before going out for some fermented shark tapas. I gave them a shot of brennivin bought at duty free as a thank you for my free tour and we listened to this German guy living at the hostel playing guitar. We parted ways and I got ready for my Northern lights tour.
I got talking to some girls from Kerry and some girls from the UK who were also going. The bus took us out to the middle of nowhere, where it was about -10°c. It was a clear night with some beautiful stars, but aside from a faint bluish line in the sky, they didn’t really show. However, it was still a gorgeous night and we got some info on the constellations and the milky way, and I saw a few shooting stars. I got back to the hostel and went straight to bed.