The Golden Circle to Vik, Iceland
2010 Iceland Ring-Road Driving Trip
This June I found myself having a nice little window of time where I could get away and after reviewing my 'places I want to go' list from every year, Iceland kept being on the top of the list. The two days of decent prices to go over there just happened to work as well, so two weeks ahead of time I got tickets from Los Angeles to Reykjavík on Iceland Air. Sweet!
First things first, though I saved some money on airfare [It cost around $800 vs. similar dates being $1800] renting a car for a week wasn't cheap. Though I understood later that it is impossible to not trash your car in Iceland hence the cost, the fact that the cheapest car to rent was $600 for a week seemed absurd. I had read that getting a 4x4 was a smart move, but dropping close to $1k for a week rental was out of the question.
So after arriving at 7am I figured I'd head off to the world famous Blue Lagoon. More people come here each year than residents in Iceland. Sadly it was freezing out and insanely windy. Not the most exciting time to be throwing your clothes off and jumping in 100 degree water. I got some photos though.
From there, I decided to do Iceland's 'Golden Road' or whatever they call it. Essentially most people that go to Iceland just stay in the city, but this is a somewhat local excursion to see the sights. Since I hadn't slept in probably 30 hours, I thought- why not? It was my first real experience with some good dirt roads too. My car seemed to hold up pretty well all things considering. Not having a GPS was kind of a bummer, TomTom doesn't make Iceland maps yet.
Gullfoss Waterfall was really great, but unbelievably windy. I almost fell off the side there. A hint of what was to come for the entire trip. Seriously.
The remnants from the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption were still obvious, the amount of dirt and junk in the air was insane. My allergies were out of control! In certain areas I would step on the grass and a little poof would come up on every step. The first night I spent in Selfoss a renegade ash cloud decided to hang out over the town [it was like a huge downpour storm cloud!] and I came out to a car full of caked on gunk. Volcanic ash isn't good to breathe in either, it's full of glass and all sorts of lung/airplane shutting down goodness.
I hung out with these horses for a little while and fed them grass. If you look down in the background, that's where I got my car stuck pretty much far enough away for no one to notice I was missing. One of those moments in your life where you're like 'wow, what was I thinking?'. Thankfully some family just happened to find me after I tried digging out for 45 minutes and they couldn't help, but found some weathered Icelandic farmers to come drag my beat up car out. Aye...
The main road around Iceland is called the 'Ring Road' or Hwy 1. It really gives you a great mostly coastal view of Iceland. Some stretches were downright scary though. This is a very volcanic area down in south-central Iceland near Vik. There were times where I wouldn't see another car for a good 45 minutes. Also most of the roads in Iceland were elevated with no shoulder, so the slightest miscalculation and you were rolling down a ditch...for nobody to find you. Ever. Icelandic driving was white knuckle all the way.