My day started at about 6:30am Pacific Time. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown so the dance of getting to and through the airport was well practiced. I hum-drummed my way through the familiar routine. That is, until I was walking down the hallway to get on my plane. It was as if I hadn’t realized what it was I had been planning for a year until right that second, and it hit me like a freight train.
What in god’s green earth am I doing?? I had done trips without parents or teachers or other such leaders before but never outside the country and never three weeks long. I had done most of the planning, preparing, contacting, and renting so if something went wrong it was going to be my fault. I started counting the ways I swore I didn’t properly research and as we left the ground, it wasn’t the turbulence that turned my stomach. I was going to get us killed.
The wine I drank on the plane helped though.
I met my sister in the JFK airport as she had flown in from New Orleans where she had recently graduated from university. She was talking to a guy who asked to see our trip on the map. I opened it up and suddenly I was surrounded by a crowd of interested people. There were geographers and families and individuals just looking to quell their boredom with an adventure. This somehow led me to giving a geologic background of Iceland. I guess I just like being predictable. However, giving the rehearsed spiel to the group helped me remember just how much I did, in fact, know about Iceland. I had done geochemical studies of the island for god’s sake. I had this.
We were all separated on the plane and it took over an hour to get in the air (something about a pilot mix-up). But the flight went smoothly and we landed in Keflavík on a drizzly Icelandic morning. The hour long shuttle bus ride to Reykjavík will run you about $17 (American dollars) but it’s the only way into the city other than a taxi, rental car, or hitchhiking.
Reykjavík is a confusing jumble of streets that change names for no apparent reason and buildings that hide behind others and surprisingly unhelpful people. Only after walking up and down Bankastræti with all our luggage about 5 times did we finally find it, tucked behind another business. Nobody who worked on the street had even heard of the bike company. Iceland operates on island time and it took about 3 hours to collect our bikes— finally getting out of the city around 3pm.
It rained on us hard through the unmarked maze of bike paths through the city. We got lost a couple times, but we asked our way out of there. We didn’t mind spending time on the bike paths, though, as they were, like the rest of Iceland, beautiful.
It was also bird breeding season so it was a nice treat to get to see all the babies.
Just over 20 miles north of Reykjavík is a ~5 mile long tunnel under a fjord that we had planned to take. However, information about it fails to mention that bikes are not allowed in the tunnel, so we had to go the ~30 miles around the fjord. This could not all be done in one day, obviously, but because I had not planned to go into the fjord, I had no idea where to stay.
The logical conclusion we made in a Dominoes in Mosfellsbær was, of course, to go until we found something. (We ate at a Dominoes as it seems American ‘cuisine’ has permeated into every country in the world, shoving out the local dishes in the process.)
We turned right at Route 47, looking forlornly back at the signage for the tunnel. By the time we had found something, we had been up and running for going on well over 24 hours.
What we found was Kiðfell.
Kiðfell is similar to many places in Iceland- it’s a collection of small homes and/or cabins where you can rent anything from a bed for the night to a house for a month. And they’re always in lovely places.
We spread out our soaking wet stuff to dry, drank some tea, ate some dinner, did some yoga, and crawled our sweet selves into bed.
And at that moment, that bed was the best thing that had ever come into my life.