It’s quaint sleepy villages, dramatic weather, wooden houses and endless roads. It’s glaciers, mountains and oceans that’ll kill ya. It’s a distinct lack of trees and landscapes full of stories, beautiful and intimidating. It’s Iceland.
Flying into Keflavic I began to slightly regret not owning a drone, the mountains in the distance and the waves crashing into the coastline looked incredible from above. Straight off the plane and the wind hits me in the face and wakes me up to the fact that I’m actually fucking here. It was a trip I had wanted to make for the past few years and now it wasn’t just a nice idea, it was real.
I had a rough plan. A destination for the end of each day and a vague idea of what we would be doing in between. When I travel I need some kind of structure to the trip, but also the freedom to change my mind. Weather, bad moods (sorry Serena), wrong turns and road closures happen and you kinda need to be prepared to play it be ear.
We drove south towards Vik, pulling in at most of the typical tourist spots on route, by which I mainly mean waterfalls. These places are full of people with their fucking tripods and good lord have fun editing them out. I’m am not a long exposure gal, I don’t want water to look like milk. To be honest, I actually couldn’t tell if everyone was taking long exposures, or they just thought you needed a tripod to take a photo. No offence. We carried on and found a bunch of Icelandic ponies (they are everywhere), walked to the plane crash and checked out the Black Sands beach in Vik for sunset.
The third day was the hardest. Some kind of banging headache all day mixed with probably the most beautiful, incredible places I’d ever seen, and looking back I wish I had been able to appreciate more. It was a long drive from Vik to Jökulsárlón, the landscapes change dramatically, but always on that same straight and seemingly never ending road. If I can offer you one piece of advice, travel with someone who drives. (SORRY SERENA) but we both know how I struggled that day.
On the fourth day we headed back to the Reykjavic, spent a night in the city, saw some cool buildings, and ate a very average burger that was somehow the most expensive meal I’ve ever paid for. I’m not really a city girl, I mean I’ll take a day in London when I fancy it but generally I’m happier in the mountains or near the sea.
We spent the latter part of the trip exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsuala. This was good choice, it was quieter with less tourists and photographers around. The landscapes were more rolling, empty roads, sleepy towns, snowy mountain drives and the kind of churches Iceland is known for.
So now for the honesty:
I think some people have this perception that I’m a type of free spirit go with the flow gal but I can assure you that I’m not. I’m usually stressed, and I get this type of anxiety before I fall asleep at night where I vividly imagine my death the next day. Whether I slip on a rock and fall into the sea, crash the car off the side of a mountain or one of my personal favourites, get run over because I didn’t put the handbreak on at a view point. If there is a worst case scenario I probably will have imagined it already, so getting home in one piece is that little bit more rewarding I suppose.
We had this idea that we’d take care free photos of each other on cliff edges and I’d get a moody profile photo of me driving through the mountains. The reality of this was a very grumpy, ego bruised evening when we both decided that we hate the images the other had taken of us, (sorry Serena). Props to girls who look flawless in extreme places, I on the other hand looked like I was dragged there against my will with mascara half down my face. So I guess I’ll never be a model, I’ll also never be the type of photographer with the patience to set up these contrived lifestyle #authentic #roadtrip photos. You know the ones I mean, where someone is making coffee over a fire or huddled in blanket somewhere beautiful. Do people actually do that? Perhaps they do, and honestly I appreciate the images when I see them but that level of effort is far beyond me for sure.
For me when I travel, its a little unorthadox. The car is a mess, I lose lens caps and car keys and I eat cheap, sustaining myself on cereal bars and diet coke. I guess I just wasn’t there to eat fancy icelandic food. Don’t get me wrong, its sounds wonderful but I have this need to see as much of a place as I can whilst spending as little time sitting and eating and paying for expensive shit as possible. I wasn’t there on a holiday, I was there to see it and to take photos. Maybe I missed a whole bunch of culture but I would be dishonest to say that was what I was there for, or that that is what interests me most in the places I travel to. I am fascinated by lanscapes and the geograpy of somewhere, I like capturing the way it looks in different light and weather conditions and I kind of thrive on this tiny bit of fear that the strange roads, ocean or mountains could kill me if I made a bad decision.
So as uncultured and basic as I am, this is me when I am at my best. I enjoy being on the road and pulling over when I think I can see a good shot. I loved that the roads and weather challenged me enough to feel like I’d achieved something at the end of the day. Its a small thing but learning to drive on the other side out there is something I am super proud of and and has given me the confidence to plan more trips knowing that I can do it on my own. I guess that wasn’t what I expected to take away from this trip, I do love the photos I took and memories of where we went and what I saw but it feels like it has opened more doors to me in terms of driving abroad and trusting myself not to just die or drive off a cliff.
Below are some of the images I took and a list of places I liked. If you want to know where any of the images we’re taken get in touch.
Places I recommend:
- Vik – There is a lot to see in the area, the black sands beach, Dyrhólaey, Fjadrargljufur Canyon is down the road. There is a lot to see here, I’d spend two or three days.
- The Plane Crash – interesting and beautiful and again have fun editing people out. I got really annoyed that tourists would just climb all over it and take selfies rather than just look at it and appreciate it for what it is and that nobody freaking died in the plane crash. Very cool. Oh ands its a long ass walk in a straight line to get to.
- Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach – beautiful nice and icy, worth the drive
- Snaefelsnes – Yaaaas, much quieter. I recommend it.
- Búðir – Black Church very cool, take the mountain road between Búðir and Ólafsvík, This was my favourite drive of the trip.
- Skógafoss – my favourite of the waterfalls we made it to. Very crowded but great.