I was debating if I was going to post a 4th chapter of my Iceland blog before the final but in the end I decided to wrap everything up in this final installment. I’ve done quite a bit in the past few days, writing little by little when I had the time and have travelled to the other side of Iceland in those many days. As I write these final sections it’s Thursday afternoon and by this time tomorrow I’ll be flying home. So here it is.
After spending three days in northern Iceland it was time to move on, moving further south and leaving the northern part of the country.
The day that I was to drive on to my next destination it had started to snow again after having a completely sunny day just the day before. There was still snow everywhere since the blizzard and more snow on the highway would mean that I’d have to drive slower and as a result take longer to get to my next destination. In the 8 days that I’d been in Iceland, I’d experienced just about every different kind of weather and I was preparing myself for the likelihood that winter had arrived in Iceland and that I’d be driving in snow for the remainder of the trip. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Within a stretch of about 200Km, the whole landscape changed from winter to fall. Roads that were covered with snow and ice were replaced with bare pavement and even the temperature got 7-8 degrees warmer. I can’t explain why the weather changed so quickly but I’m definitely grateful for the change.
I’d always assumed that my travelling in Iceland in October was the reason why I never really saw many crowds at any of the places that I had been. Yes, I had seen a few tour busses at Dettifoss falls but I had read of the large number of people who were now travelling to Iceland and wondered if it was all true?
The crowds were there, just not until I got to south Iceland.
My theory is that people who come to Iceland for only a short time, a few days, must only keep to the south as it’s the shortest distance from Reykjavik, getting to the most number of sites. Once I got to the south of Iceland and started to travel west, back towards the airport in Keflavik, I started to see more and more cars on the road. In the east, north and west parts of Iceland it was not uncommon for me to see no other cars on the road for 20-30 minutes at a time. Once in the south, I was travelling with other cars constantly, even at night or early morning.
I don’t normally comment about the costs of travelling but in this case it’s worth mentioning.
Given the short number of days I’ve been here, Iceland will easily be one of the most expensive places that I’ve ever been.
On average, everything I paid in local Iceland kronas costs about 2-3 times what it would cost at home, converted to Canadian dollars. It’s not completely clear what the underlying reason is for this but long before coming to Iceland I’d heard about how expensive it was.
One of the big benefits being in Iceland is how every single place where I’ve had to pay money, I’ve been able to pay with credit card. Electronic payment like credit and debit cards are accepted everywhere and I mean every small cafe or business on the side of the road.
Why is this a big deal?
I didn’t use any local currency. I didn’t get any Iceland kronas before leaving home and didn’t get any here from a local bank machine. In fact, I don’t even know what Icelandic money looks like.
As I approach the end of my time in Iceland, the driving is going to be a big part of what I’ll remember about this trip. Both in very good and very bad ways.
First, let’s get this out in the open. The driving on this trip was just brutal.
This was a combination of several factors. Obviously, the number of kilometres I drove was a big part of it but it was also the narrow highways and of course the insanely bad weather that I experienced in the north. With all of the side trips I did, I think that I drove about 2000 Kms here in Iceland and about 250 Kms of that were driving on the worst dirt roads imaginable. These dirt roads often had hundreds and hundreds of deep potholes for 10Km at a time.
Sample photo of potholes in Iceland dirt roads: http://www.edgrahamphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/potholes.jpg
Countering all of that is the incredibly spectacular sights that I saw on a daily basis while on the road. The photos that I put on my website we about 10% of what I saw that was completely awesome. Here’s a video that I took at a random spot on the highway showing the vistas that I probably saw 100 times around Iceland:
The End of the Road
Tonight is my last night in Iceland and by tomorrow night, Friday, I’ll be back home in Vancouver. It’s always kind of sad when a trip comes to an end. There were certain things in Iceland that I did not get to but I was fortunate to see a lot of the country in the 13 days. The map below shows all of the places that I stayed and while it only shows my route on the main Highway 1, I diverted from that highway at least 20-30 times.
And Finally …
There’s no other way to put it than to say that Iceland exceeded my expectations in every way.
Most of you know that photography is a passion of mine and Iceland is easily one of the top places for photography I’ve ever travelled. I feel that I went to a mix of really well-known destinations in Iceland and a few that were off the beaten track. Yesterday I did a hike up on the glacier with a local company and it was a spur of the moment decision that I really am glad that I did.
I can’t say that I really got to know any Iceland people. Most of the people that I talked to over the past two weeks were from other countries visiting Iceland like me. I seemed to be a rarity and I didn’t run into anyone else who was travelling by themselves as I was.
Travelling by myself has its pros and cons. I’ve been asked if I’m ok without a travelling partner. Travelling solo is certainly not my first choice and if I were to do another trip like this I would reassess the amount of driving that I would be doing.
One thing that I will mention is that in hindsight, bringing the right clothing that kept me warm and dry was pretty significant. This made the difference between being able to get out and do things in the worst possible weather and being forced to stay in the hotel. I came prepared for any kind of weather and I ended up using pretty much everything.
By now I’ve uploaded all of my photos to my website. I feel that some of my best photos ever were taken on this trip.
There are several trips that are currently in the planning stages and I’m sure that I’ll be providing updates on new travel adventures in 2019. Thanks for joining me on my Excellent Iceland Adventure.
All the best,