This will be pretty condensed (edit: ok, it’s not condensed; I’ll have to write multiple reports, ha).
Arrived at 6 a.m. on a Monday. I couldn’t check into my room until 3 or 4, so it was a long day lumbering around the city in a semi-conscious state. Haha As long as I kept moving, I was good to go. One of my favorite things about traveling is seeing what everyday life is like for people around the world. So I tried to go up and down every street, turned random corners to see what was there, wandered residential neighborhoods, snapped photos of anything that caught my eye, etc. I was lucky, too, because Monday was like the warm sunny filling of rain and wind sandwich, so this was a super pleasant day to explore on foot.
Speaking of food: if you’re a vegetarian or vegan traveling to Iceland, don’t fret. I expected this to be way more of an issue than it was. Iceland is a very forward-looking place, they got this covered. And there is vegetarian soup *everywhere*, guys. I ate some any chance I got. Simple and wonderful. I have awesome soup-and-bread memories from Iceland. Is that weird? Well, anyway. I ate at Glo and a good Thai place while in the city; also had good food at Kaffitur.
Also for fellow AT&T customers: I got the International Day Pass for $10 a day (only on days I used it). This meant that my non-wifi phone use was just like I was at home. I used map app every day and sometimes Spotify during long drives and didn’t come close to using up my data. Some social media off wifi but not too much. Easy and it worked.
Day two, I drove to Hveragdi and hiked to the hot springs. The weather was comically bad so I felt pretty accomplished with a tinge of smug at the end. Ha! This was the day I realized the packing suggestions on here were 100% legit. It was a mess out there but my clothes were spot on. Afterwards, I stopped at a restaurant with a geothermal bread bakery and soup buffet. Really hit the spot!
Day three I drove to Snaefellsnes and again the weather surprised me – it was sunny with beautiful floofy clouds (and a little wind but not bad). I got into my cottage and headed right out. I could write a novel about my time on the peninsula, but: the first day there I hiked over to Arnarstapi and back (the lava fields and soft, sponge-y, pillowy moss – other wordly, I’ll never forget the feel of that moss!).
It was early evening by now and I hopped in my car, determined to make the most of this sunny day, fueled by west coast jet lag and the triple espresso I had before leaving Reykjavik. Wheee! Leisurely stops at Londrangar and Djupalonssandur, noting the hiking trail heads at the latter so I could return another day. Got to Kirkjufell near sunset so she was showing off with a breathtaking silhouette; the waterfall parking lot over overly full, so I decided I’d come back on a day when I looped the whole peninsula.
Backtracked to my cottage, stopping at various points to snap pics of the most amazing midnight sun.
This is already long so other highlights: the Vatnshellir cave tour, driving the full loop with stops to climb up Helgafell and a stop at the Nesbraud café for a latte and a pretty amazing maple donut (impulsive donut decision, no regrets!), spent probably an inordinate amount of time sitting and watching irresistibly cute and jaunty lambs with their mamas, a repeat stop at Kirkjufell to view from waterfall side, and a hike/run from the trail at Djupalonssandur (fun aside: from up on the cliffs, I saw a couple in the distance taking wedding photos on the beach; no one else on the beach, pretty neat!). Also another stroll along Arnarstapi with a stop at Gatklettur, etc. I could spend entire days watching waves crash along the Snaefellsnes coastline.
Oh also: one night about 10 pm I was back at my cottage, already in my pajamas and texting with my young son back home. I was googling to see what else I was missing and came across Raudafeldsgja gorge. It was mid afternoon to me, so I swapped out my jams for warm/dry and hit the road. This was probably my favorite thing about my having so many days in Iceland – the ability to be spontaneous!
Anyway, long story short but before arriving at the secret, I went to The Wrong Place. So I hiked up The Wrong Place for a while (gravel off road so not somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be…), the sunset and butt workout making it well worth it, before I embraced the reality that I was at The Wrong Place. The glacier loomed ahead and nothing resembling a gorge presented itself.
A mere .3 of a mile away, I found the gorge. :eye roll at self:
It was still snowy/icy in there so while I was dressed fine for it, I didn’t venture too far up. Especially because it was close to midnight by then and not a single soul anywhere (or so I thought…). Still it was awesome and one of the few times that felt vaguely GOT-ish. I was expecting a dragon to fly out of one of those nooks or crannies. I'd love to go back again and hike further up.
Best part? Walked back down to my car and headed home. As I turned out of the parking lot onto the ring road…..saw a single goat lounging just off the road, seeming to enjoy the beautiful mild evening and sunset as much as I did. If I were prone to anthropomorphism, I would imagine he was keeping a look out for me (perhaps a tad concerned by my false start at The Wrong Place). 😉 Gave him his space but got a pretty great photo of him with the spectacular mountains in the background.
Well this is really long – I’ll post this for now and write separate reports for the rest of my trip.