Saturday, June 8, 2013


Ísland means "Iceland" in Icelandic, a language revered by the 300,000 residents of the Nordic nation that sits at the convergence of the Artic and North Atlantic Oceans. Frankly, I knew pathetically little about this country - reader, stop and try to spell Iceland's capital before you go on further! - until two week's ago, when Arvid and I embarked on a journey throughout the not-so-icey-land (it is widely believed that Greenland and Iceland should swap names!).

Since I was already planning on flying to continental Europe with Icelandair via Reykjavik, and had no particular arrival date in mind, I was easily lured by the option of a complimentary extended layover. Arvid also had free time between finishing up (at least for the time being) his work in Cambridge and going back to work at his former office in Frankfurt, which meant that we suddenly found ourselves with the opportunity to experience a place that cannot be counted as one of the most popular destinations for American tourists.

We wanted to see much of the country and remain flexible in our plans, so we rented a very small van (a Renault Kangoo) that had been refitted with a makeshift bed in the back. A company in Reykjavik called KuKu Camper offers such vehicles at comparatively affordable rates, and struck us as being more ethical than other car rental companies; for example, they do not charge for additional drivers, and only charge €20 to rent a sleeping bag for the entire duration of the vehicle rental.

Cooking dinner - whole wheat pasta, Icelandic feta cheese, and olives, in case you're wondering! - with the camp stove included in the car rental, in Höfn (Southeast Iceland), overlooking the sea.

Below are some photos from our trip, and while they tell part of the story, I hope to be able to tell you more about our journey when I see or speak with you next.

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This was our route, which we decided upon spontaneously. We did not visit the West Fjords (top left) because it is very cold there at this time of year, and we were unable to go through the interior of the island because most of the roads there are closed until mid-June.

There are 300,000 people, 80,000 horses, and 1,300,000 sheep on the island, hence the proliferation of photos with animals and the dearth of photos with humans in this post.


Iceland's nature is spectacular, and includes endless waterfalls, glaciers, and fjords. The first photo below is at Vatnajökull, the largest glacier outside of the Arctic Circle, and was taken after midnight. 


We drove on adrenaline-inducing roads, some of which were unpaved. Arvid was brave enough to teach me how to drive a manual transmission!


And finally, ...


Final note: If you are planning a trip to Europe, consider flying Icelandair and extending your layover in Iceland. However, May through August (high season, unfortunately) are really the only months to go, unless you have special powers to bypass the frigid weather during the rest of the year!

1 comment:

Dad said...

Great stuff Lauren.

Very enjoyable reading and, no, can't spell Rejacavik.

At least not correctly!

How aboiut Czechoslavakia?