I got back at 11 pm Friday from Iceland. It was amazing. I don’t even think a photo can do the country’s beauty justice. I went into the trip with no expectations regarding running. If I fit in time for a run, great, if I didn’t, oh well. Vermont is just for fun anyway so I didn’t want to stress about working out during my vacation. Besides we all need breaks from running and training and so far this year I didn’t give myself much of one!
I am glad I went in with this mentality because the weather in Iceland is intense and changes quickly, so I didn’t completely register that running might not BE possible. The day we arrived in Reykjavik there were wind storms in the South so they told us we wouldn’t be able to get very far because they would be closing the roads. It was also raining. I thought to myself, what did I get myself into, this is intense… Regardless, we picked up the RV and headed to some sights in the Golden Circle, which is close to Reykjavik.
First stop Thingvellir National Park. This is actually the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th and 18th centuries. We were also able to walk through a valley formed from two tectonic plates separating, pretty cool!
Second stop Gullfoss Waterfall. Let me tell you about Gullfoss, this was the first time we almost blew away and almost lost a car door. Wind in Iceland is no joke! I wanted a picture so badly but honestly we almost didn’t make it from the parking lot. We had to bend over to walk and the wind was constantly whipping dirt and sand at you. If you stood up you felt like you were going to blow away, but just like everything in Iceland, the view was worth it!
We also drove past the Geysir, but had a long day so we didn’t stop. We headed to Selfoss to camp for the night!
Day 2 started with the Secret Lagoon hot spring! The sun even came out which we were pleasantly surprised about!
The first waterfall of the day was Seljalandsfoss, which was my favorite waterfall. You can walk all around it! If you walk further up the path you also find a second waterfall, which if you wear rain boots like Greg did you can walk in and see!
Next stop Skogafoss, which is one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls!
We also made a lot of random stops throughout the day because in Iceland you want to take pictures of everything!
We stopped for the night in Vik, which is supposed to have some awesome attractions, but unfortunately we were there for a crazy wind storm. I mean our camper was rocking the whole night and I was awake thinking about how much I would have to pay if the camper rolled over in the night. It was rain and wind so we basically stopped for the night and didn’t get out of the car, which I was a little sad about because I saw so many beautiful pictures of Vik while planning the trip, but you can’t control the weather that’s for sure!
Day 3 started with us trying to get out of Vik as fast as we could to escape the wind! We knew if we went inland a bit the wind would get much better. We also were trying to beat some of the road closures because we didn’t want to be stuck there another night.
My favorite stop of the day was fjaðrárgljúfur canyon it was off of ring road down a bumpy gravel road, we weren’t 100% sure we were supposed to drive down but it was so worth it! Absolutely gorgeous!
Then we headed to Skaftafell Nature Reserve and we hit a road block so we had to pull over for a bit and wait for the road to open, perfect time for a nap! Once it opened we headed to the Skaftafell Campsite for the night, which was gorgeous. You could see the mountains from the camper and it was a short walk or morning run to the glacier itself. I saw my first glacier!
Day 4 consisted of a lot of driving up the East Coast of Iceland. We encountered a lot of fog so we didn’t stop for many sites, but it was still beautiful! I know you might be tired of hearing that 🙂
I would recommend stopping at Jökulsárlón a glacier lagoon! We couldn’t see very far because of the fog, but we still noticed how blue the glaciers in the lake were!
We drove to Egilsstadir for the night and weren’t sure if we liked the campsite so I directed Greg to another campsite over a mountain on the coast. We drove up and into the snow, past a snowblower and didn’t think anything of it. We parked at the campsite and I decided to look at the weather, it said 5-8 inches of snow overnight… I told Greg we better go back because I didn’t want to go over a mountain in an RV through snow. He agreed and we packed up and went back to Egilsstadir for the night. It proved to be a great location and free since it was still not “open” but everything was on. Here we encountered out first plumbing issue. Greg noticed the sink was leaking, so as any guy would he decided to fix it without tools…next thing I know I hear water pouring out. He completely broke it! The next morning we had to stop at the Europcar and explain, they didn’t have the part so they stuck a glue stick in it until we got to a bigger town, they were so nice!
Day 5 Detifoss the most powerful waterfall in Europe and its sister waterfall which I found prettier. The sun started coming out for us on Day 5!
Next stop Námaskarð Hot Springs which has bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles !
And Dimmuborgir lava formations where I got us sufficiently lost and Greg realized he should have studied geology because he spent forever examining rocks.
We found a campsite that overlooked Lake Myvatn for the night. It was probably overall my favorite campsite for the view and because we had awesome weather, finally!
Day 6, the weather was still nice! Woke up to sun so I went for a quick run up the trails behind the campsite and got lost so it turned into me just sprinting back until I knew where I was. Disclaimer, there are almost no trees in Iceland so its hard to lose your sense of direction but I still freaked out a bit.
First stop, Mývatn Naturebaths. We went the first day they switched to summer hours, so they opened at 9 instead of 12. We got there at 10 and basically had the hot springs to ourselves. The sky was blue it was 50 degrees out and it seemed like you could see all of Iceland from the pools. Definitely one of my all time favorites from the trip. I did leave my ring on which turned black, but although they do warn you it will change your jewelry black, they don’t say it turns back to normal. For the day I thought I ruined it!
Next stop, some cave from Game of Thrones that has water in it, I forget the name. Can you tell I watch Game of Thrones? haha
Then we went to Hverfjall crater, which had an amazing view of the entire lake from the rim. I also saw someone run the rim, which I wish I had thought of! We found out after you can walk down into the crater and walk around the center circle, but I am kind of glad I didn’t know because the walk up the side of the crater was hard enough!
After that we continued our journey around the rest of the lake. It is a beautiful lake and a very popular region in Iceland for tourists, but definitely not like the lakes you see in New England. I think the overall lack of trees really got me.
Another waterfall for the day, Goðafoss Falls.
We ended the night getting our RV fixed at Europcar in Akureyri. They were so accommodating and kind even when we broke it! We spent the night at the campsite on a park nearby. It was very peaceful with another view of mountains.
Day 7, we did a lot of driving but saw a turf church and Hvítserkur!
Day 8, we drove the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I was in search of puffins but we didn’t find any unfortunately! I didn’t take pictures today and just tried to enjoy the scenery.
Day 9, we finished driving to Reykjavik and made a few stops on the way. We didn’t see much this day and we were honestly getting so tired from the trip, so we kept it low key.
Day 10, we saw puffins! Greg was determined for me to see my puffins before going home. We took a tour out of Reykjavik to an island only 15 minutes away and watched puffins from the boat. They are so small and so fast! They only love on land from about April to August when they are nesting, outside of those times they live in the Atlantic ocean. There are also limited places to see them and Iceland is your best chance. If I didn’t see my puffins I was going to have to go to Machias Maine for a more expensive tour, so Greg was determined for that reason as well! It was perfect weather and we went on the 11 o clock tour. Then we headed to the airport and we were both happy to be heading home and ending the trip on a high note.
I loved Iceland and I would definitely return someday, but I have no idea when. It is cheap to get to but not cheap when you are there. I was surprised by the costs of food and fuel. However, that’s not the reason why I won’t return soon. It’s because I feel like I saw so much. If I were to go back I would want to repeat those areas where we had bad weather and couldn’t see much but overall I am so happy with this vacation. It was one of the best I have ever had. Although the weather wasn’t perfect, May was the perfect month to go. There were not an abundance of tourists. Even at the main attractions you could get a picture by yourself! Also some of the campsites we stayed at for free because it was still the off season and no need for reservations!