Iceland: 24 hours of Ice, Snow, and Awesome

Thursday, November 15th, 2012. 1530 PST

Time Awake: 6h30m

As we begin our journey to the mystical land of Iceland, we ponder the adventure ahead of us. And by “ponder” I really mean “wonder what we’ll do for 24 hours in Iceland with a rental car, no internet connection, and just a few offline maps downloaded to our Android devices.” Attempts to sleep on plane are met with resistance. Watch Independence Day with increasingly blurry eyes. Ponder the reasons why I hate flying.

Brian unsuccessfully attempting to sleep.


Friday, November 16th, 2012. 0730 UTC

Time Awake: 14h30m

We have landed into a very dark and cold environment. Noticing that the roads are icy and that the land is covered with snow, we briefly reconsider our plans. At car rental agency, eagerly pay an extra ten Euros in order to acquire a local GPS device with directions. Pile into our Mazda 6 and journey forth.

Friday, November 16th, 2012. 0830 UTC

Time Awake: 15h30m

After passing through approximately 20 roundabouts while journeying through the outskirts of Reykjavik, we begin heading towards Geysir and the hydrothermal fields deep inside a national park. Traffic is extremely light, but the roads are extremely icy and snowy. Brian admits that he isn’t sure he entered in the correct destination into the GPS, but we seem to be going to the correct general area.

Uhhh. Can you see?

We’re pretty sure this is a road.

Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1000 UTC

Time Awake: 17h00m

Arrive at a random visitors center with about 10 parking spaces; we’re the only ones here. Steam is arising from just beyond a rather rickety-appearing rope fence. We guess that this is our first destination. We run out of the car and begin wandering around with joyful glee: we are free! We can walk and run and it’s cold but we don’t care!

The car was rather dirty.

It smells of sulfur. Steam is omnipresent. Nobody else is here but us. Snow and mountains surround the landscape.


We encounter a small bubbling pool that occasionally sends out a larger bubble. We are entertained by this pool, and stand by it a good 5 minutes getting progressively excited by every larger bubble. We decide to move on to find Strokkur, which is the most active Geyser in the park.

Check out this bubbling pool. It’s soooo cool.

Walking down a path. Nikky asks Nova if she locked the car. Nova replies that she doesn’t believe she did. A discussion arises as to if we should have locked the car, which is quickly followed by the conclusion that it would be a lousy place to ste… PFHOOMMMMMMM. WHOOSH.

We have found Strokkur, which was the big hole in the ground that we ignored during the car locking discussion. Impressed by this display of water, we eagerly run around the fence a few times while waiting for it to erupt again. It does so in a manner of minutes. General agreement is that this is quite awesome.


Geysir is also visited, but is is dormant. We head back to the car, which still held all of our possessions.

Oh hey guys. I’m kinda feelin’ down right now. (Geysir)



Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1100 UTC

Time Awake: 18h00m

Arrive at Gullfoss falls. We are the only car in the small parking lot, and are slightly concerned that we may not make it up the winding and icy road out of the lot. Ice is everywhere, but we spot an amazing sight ahead: Gullfoss falls.


Shuffle-running down the path to the falls, we’re impressed by the amount of ice that has covered the landscape: the mist that arises from the falls is almost immediately frozen when it hits the ground, and the plants are covered with an inch or more of ice. Walking closer to the falls, we quickly figure out that it is literally raining ice. It covers us.

What a cool dude.
Icy Ice Ice


Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1130 UTC

Time Awake: 18h30m

Nova has read that there is excellent all-you-can-eat soup at the Gullfoss visitors center. We head into a very utilitarian structure and immediately find an amazing lamb-vegetable soup, which also includes unlimited rolls. We are cold, hungry, and consume approximately two day’s worth of calories each. Between the four of us, there were 35 rolls consumed and 8 bowls of soup.

I did eat lamb. It was delicious, and I didn’t care.

We head back to town.

Woah, is that another car?


Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1400 UTC

Time Awake: 21h00m

Arrive in Reykavik and head to the tallest building: the main church–Hallgrímskirkja. It is an impressively-austere and beautiful building. Nova and I go to the top of the tower and are treated to lovely views of the city. We explore the government buildings downtown, and recharge with some coffee and hot chocolate.

Inside the church
A lego model!


View from the bell tower.

Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1600 UTC

Time Awake: 23h00m

We realize that our plan of “sleeping in the car or airport until we fly out in the morning” will not be pleasant. The airport is closed overnight, and we would likely freeze to death in the car. We head to Keflavík in search of a hotel.

Friday, November 16th, 2012. 1700 UTC

Time Awake: 24h00m

Stopping at a Taco Bell and KFC–sleep deprivation may have impacted our brains at this point. Nova encounters the situation that we all must learn: even familiar institutions are strange and different in foreign countries, especially when using the drive-through rather than going inside and face-to-face when ordering.

We also stop at a grocery store that has an odd Pig-like mascot which looks deranged. “Cool American” Doritos are acquired.

Friday, November 16th, 2012 1800 UTC

Time Awake: 25h00m

Nova is delusional. Brian and Justin find a hotel, but neglect to tell them that there are four of us and not just two. Nova and I sneak in the back of the building and meet them in the room. There are two single beds. We are not amused.

Friday, November 16th, 2012 1900 UTC

Time Awake: 26h00m

Beds are pushed together. Quarters are close. Luckily we have showered.

Saturday, November 17th, 2012 0600 UTC

Arrive at Keflavík international airport. Fly off to Amsterdam. We will return to Iceland one day.



As usual, you can view all the photos on flickr.

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