So, I first realised that going from Glasgow to Halifax was possibly cheaper if a stopover in Iceland was added. This grew into a “what about if I stop in Iceland for a week? Never been there”, and then, when I realise that various other reasons were going to keep me in Glasgow till nearly the middle of July, into “why don’t I just go for a week in Iceland?”.
I first became Iceland aware in fifth grade when I had to research it for my geography class. Remarkable that I now, out of nowhere, I am thinking of going.
Flying to Iceland from Scotland is rather straight forward and relatively cheap. Other than having to get to Edinburgh, an airport I have not flown out of for nearly an age, I was in Reykjavik in a blink of an eye.
Landing at 20:00 and with the sun still high in the sky was weird enough, but deciding to go for a walk in what felt like the late afternoon at 23:30 was even stranger.
First day I just spend going round Reykjavik, which is not that big and, if there are no exceptional events going on, does not warrant more than a day or two to be comprehensively explored.
One of the main aims of the trip was hiking and for that I have to get out of Reykjavik. The hike I was interested in, and that I will have to go back for was not reachable. The Laugavegur is a 4/5 days trail in the south of the island, but the access point to the start is still inaccessible due to snow. The alternative has to be going to Thorsmork and focus on day hikes around there, luckily there are a fair few.
Day two is still a day hike. The situation with the snow prevents longer expeditions but I, with the help of the people at the campsite, decide that the best on offer is the Tindfjöll Circle with the possible addition of the Rjúpnafell peak (http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=2921963). All in all eight hours away with a good six hours on the march and a good 1,000 m delta.
The leg situation is ok, not perfect but just ok. Unfortunatelly I come to the point where choices have to be made now. The camp site people tell me that tomorrow there are going to be winds of 30 m/s (approximatelly 70 mph) at the top of the Thórsmörk – Skógar pass (http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=7465401) and, as the snow has not melted yet, it is not easy to find the passage between the two glaciers in order to get to Skógar. That being the case I decide to get up early (06:00 AM) and go up and over Útigönguhöfòi. This should make a nice round trip of six/seven hours, sufficient to avoid the bad weather and to catch the bus back to Reykjavik.
Despite having to struggle a bit in the descent, I manage to get to the camp in time to get the bus and, nursing my knees a bit I elect to continue camping at the Reykjavik site. The Summer Solstice festival is on so I am surrounded by screaming and drinking 18 year old kids at the first outing. This mixed with the never ending daylight makes for an excellent combination.
The campsite is great and there is no need to make efforts in getting to know people, everybody is pretty sociable. After settling and cleaning up it’s time to hit the town and sort out what to do for the remaining two days of the stay.
Lunch and then booking the activity for tomorrow, it’s horse riding. I have wanted to do it for a long time and the fact that Icelandic horses are a tad lower than average gives me the final push. It’s fun and, even if the weather is not spectacular, and I look like a twat in the helmet, it’s something I’d do again.
In the afternoon I get back and go to the local outdoor swimming pool. I strongly recommend it, despite the air temperature being 13º C, once you’ve taken a plunge in the 7º plunge pool, where I resisted a whole 10 seconds, it feels like being in the Caribbean. There are also other plunge pools with water at temperatures ranging between 37º and 44º as well as a 40º sea water pool which, allegedly, does wonders for your skin.
So it’s the final day in Iceland and with the flight to Edinburgh late in the afternoon I stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport (the lagoon is conveniently placed between Reykjavik and the International Airport). worth the visit and, if you’re really into skin care, you can truly go to town with the treatments.
So, to summarise, Iceland gets a 9.5 out of 10, the only mark down is that it’s a bit expensive. Regardless I’d say go, I certainly will again, for sure once in the winter, to see the northern lights and once in the summer, further ahead this time, to do the hiking I could not do this time.