Words can’t prepare you for this place. Photos don’t come near to doing it justice either. That said, since I can’t personally fly you all to iceland for a week with me (trust me, I probably would if I could) I’ll share a few of my favorite views through Melissa and my cameras from our first 36 hours in the most beautiful place on earth. We took the opportunity to be in Iceland a few days before our couple got there to acclimate to the visual overload. Great idea by the way. Over the course of the next five days we would cover about 1,400km of road from mountain passes to mile after mile of amazing coast line. We’d go from 80mph winds (that broke my door off the hinges) in a blistering cold to a 55 degree afternoon on a black sand beach. This place is absolutely full of extremes and there are so many little stories to tell.
(Before I jump in I need to say THANK YOU to Bedford Camera + Fujifilm North America for sending us with the amazing Fuji GFXs50 to this amazing place. To Lems Footwear + Forsake Shoes for outfitting us while we were there. To Holdfast Gear for our bags, straps, and accessories. and To Foss Hotel for making our trip to Hellnar feel like home.
We landed at 5am in Iceland (midnight our time) and neither of us really slept on the plane. I sat next to a wild lady with a purse full of gadgets that would make Mary Poppins jealous and between some rough air, and her kicking me, poking me, and yes - doing over head hamstring stretches (you can’t make that up) I was pretty wide eyed when we landed. That said, we were determined to get to Hellnar and explore the western Peninsula area of Iceland as soon as we could. It turns out, though we enjoyed every bit of Iceland - this area was our very favorite.
It definitely deserves to be said that the weather this far north and on the west coast was much less predictable than it was down near Reykjavik and on the south coast. The winds and cold and rain were extreme but the views looked like something off of mars. After driving the southern tip of the western peninsula we crossed north and found ourselves in the mountains with views that were completely overwhelming. There were probably 30 minutes on end where neither of us said anything because it was all so captivating. After a few hours of driving, no sleep, and nothing but beef jerky to eat we finally put the hotel into our GPS and actually listened to it when it told us to turn onto this little dirt road.
The roads in iceland are rated by how passable they are. We didn’t know what those ratings were but 25km on a road rated as “offroad vehicles only” (the sign was in icelandic ok?) in a Suzuki Vitara was quite the adventure. We left the beach line, and ended up driving above the snow line, seeing puffins, switchbacks with huge drop offs on each side, and nobody (not even anything that looked like it had ever been touched by a human) for as far as we could see. This little detour took about 90 minutes, but was absolutely beautiful. (Side bar : the broken door, shattered windshield, and who knows what else happened to our car are the perfect reason to invest in ALL the insurance. I didn’t drive crazy you guys, but when they assembled this little Suzuki out of mostly bubble gum and lego parts they didn’t have Iceland in mind).
These churches are absolutely breathtaking. It’s so neat to see nearly the exact same church built in some of the most extremely beautiful places in Iceland. Our stay at the Foss Hotel in Hellnar was absolutely a high point. Overall the food we ate in Iceland was incredible, and the dinner there was no exception but staying in a modern hotel built essentially in tin and steel structures built to withstand the extremes was really fun. It’s quaint, and modern, and cute - but the staff were awesome and a place I would quickly go back to the next time we’re in Iceland (which I’m hoping is soon).
Sunrise on our second morning in Iceland in Hellnar was a life changing experience for me. I counted 13 rainbows in about 30 minutes and got to see the sun touch some of the most amazingly beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. The music was off, the heat was on high, and I was shivering - (this is actually when I broke the door) but I couldn’t even process the light and drama of watching day start in this part of Iceland.
By mid day we were headed back toward Reykjavik (the next blog will come soon enough with more on that and then the actual good stuff with Dustin + Amber all over the south coast and the Eastern Fjords). The drive back was breath taking, and I certainly understand why all of the blogs we read told us to make sure we didn’t just stop in the middle of the road to take photos. I swear - every turn we came around I pulled off again to shoot something.