I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I was starting to feel a bit claustrophobic in Reykjavik. I love Reykjavik and I would like to return someday to see more of the city, but as Rich said, “I want to see shit. I’m ready to do some proper Icelandic shit.” I could not have agreed more. It was time to get out on the open road and see some shit. Fortunately, the carefully crafted itinerary that I spent many a hour researching and putting together for us (and that no one even looked at, except Tina), called for a day of adventure! Bags packed, we loaded into the van (after thirty minutes of trying to get the side door open) and headed out towards Thingvellir National Park.
Dad drove the whole way. I mean Rich. Rich drove the whole way. Tina took the front seat as navigator. Trinh and I took the middle seats and the kids were thrown in the back. This was a proper family road trip and Sydney knew how to please the crowd with some killer tunes! My goodness, I never expected all of us to agree on road trip music, but Sydney has a sixth sense for these types of things… and a really obscure playlist to work with.
The itinerary (that no one looked at) allowed for spontaneous stops along the way. This is something you should plan for in Iceland, because everything is epic and everything is beautiful. So we stopped on the side of the road to stretch our legs and take some pictures. It was a stunning view and very exciting to finally be doing some proper Iceland shit… little did we know that this first stop would actually end up looking somewhat lame compared to the stops we had yet to make. But anyway…
We arrived at Thingvellir National Park around 11:00 AM… about the same time the sun decided to show up. We were working with limited daylight on this trip and I think we made the most of it. It ended being a highlight for me, arriving at Thingvellir with the sunrise. The light was beautiful and the skies were clear.
It’s very difficult to stop taking photos in Iceland.
Remember when I mentioned those spontaneous road side stops. We made another one just as we were leaving Thingvellir National Park. And still, we had not yet realised how good these spontaneous stops could be.
Road side distractions aside, we needed to get our butts to Geysir.
Okay NOW we were on our way to Geysir to see… a geyser. Obviously.
I am bound to have a camera fail at least once every trip. So after we parked the van, looked through the gift shop and made the chilly walk to the geyser, I situated myself and my cell phone camera in front of this famous bubbling pool of water known as Strokkur. Shutter button ready, we only had to wait a few minutes for Strokkur to… geyser? Erupt? Explode? Whatever you want to call it, ’twas magnificent! At the very second that Strokkur started to erupt, my cell phone also decided it was too cold to function and therefore, shut itself down. Just my luck. I enjoyed the geyser the way nature intended, with my eyeballs and my memory. Fortunately, my dear friends were kind enough to share some of their own photos with me.
Despite what TLC tried so hard to teach us, we did in fact, chase a waterfall. Onward to Gullfoss!
I purposely did not look at photos of Gullfoss waterfall online before embarking on this adventure. With Iceland being home to so many waterfalls, all very different from the next, I wanted to be surprised. And we were in absolute awe of Gullfoss… it appeared to get bigger and bigger the more we walked around the viewing area.
The next stop on our “5-hours-of-daylight” road trip is one I was very much looking forward to. Any photo I had ever seen of the Kerid Crater, whether taken during the winter or summer, had always been breathtaking. I knew we had to see it for ourselves.
A bit of driving (thank you Rich!) and we had arrived. After parking the car, I attempted to read a bit of background information to everyone so we could all appreciate the crater properly. On the best of days my voice is barely an octave above monotone, so naturally my delivery of tourist information was not pleasing to the group. Thankfully Tina jumped in and did justice to the history of Kerid Crater. Essentially, the crater is not your typical crater (which are normally formed by an impact from above), but is rather the result of a volcano that got tired of volcano’ing. In very non-scientific terms, the Kerid volcano fizzled out and fell in on itself, thus becoming the Kerid crater.
Educated, we paid the 400 ISK entrance free, turned the corner and WOW! Kerid sure knows how to make an entrance.
We split up; Rich, Tina and Jayson headed down the steep staircase to see the crater from below, while Trinh and I walked around the top. I have no idea where Sydney ended up, but we found her soon after and spent some time taking plandid photos.
By this time, the sun was clearly starting to set and we needed to find our accommodation for the night. We booked an apartment in Vik and it was just what we needed; a space all to ourselves, comfy beds and no outsiders (IceFin is a tightly knit group).
We went out in search of food, which we found in the form of a truck stop diner. The best part of this stop, for me, was the incredible woman behind the counter who helped me sort out all of my Icelandic coins. I had 1200 ISK in my change purse, which was enough to pay for my burger and fries. Is it just me who doesn’t use their coins in a foreign country? I just end up collecting the coins as a result of not wanting to look dumb trying to figure out which coin is which. Nice people like that diner lady are the unsung heroes of monetarily confused travellers like myself.
Of course, we needed to find somewhere to have a drink. The sleepy town of Vik does not have much going on… at least not at night. We found a hotel bar and enjoyed a pint and a video call with dear Mario.
All in all, this was absolutely my favourite day in Iceland, seeing and doing proper Icelandic things. I didn’t think it could get much better, but then Rich played one of his favourite songs back at the apartment and fell flat on his ass mid-dance.