I recently did a trip to Iceland which is a bucket-list dream destination for me but things didn’t go to plan most of the time and some may even consider my trip to be a ‘fail’. Before even leaving Sweden for Iceland I had come down with the flu and was feeling very rough. Upon arriving at my hostel I received an email that my Northern Lights tour was cancelled – despite clear skies and good weather the Aurora KP level was low. I was so disappointed but I knew the nature of the Aurora before I came so it wasn’t a total shock. I re-booked again and it was subsequently cancelled again. The weather then got slowly worse by the day, so even though the KP was slightly higher visibility was highly unlikely.
I messaged a few close friends and family expressing my disappointment. I allowed myself to be sad for a moment and quickly dusted myself off – after all, I was so lucky to be in Iceland at all and I had 2 more tours booked. Then there was severe storm weather, resulting in my Snaefellsnes National Park tour being cancelled, I was shattered. Again, I tried to look on the positive side, I was still quite sick with the flu so figured having some time to rest was a good thing. I currently have a goal to walk 10,000 steps or more every day so despite being sick I made a big effort to walk around Reykjavik. The following pictures are what I saw.
Oh, and before I went out to take these photos I slipped on ice (surprise: Iceland is ICY!) and fell on the road, promptly some locals came to check on me. I was feeling a bit like the trip was cursed by this point. I went back to the hostel, worked out how to get the spikes out of my shoes with the help of a friendly hostel roomie and got some advice on how to walk on icy surfaces from my Finnish friend, Kreetta. Pro tip: Walk like a penguin slowly shuffling, leaning slightly forwards (keep your centre of gravity towards the front of your feet). Also, it is essential to have appropriate footwear like snowshoes for icy conditions if you are in Iceland in winter, even if you are just mostly staying in Reykjavik.
Things turned around though, I spent lots of time talking and even wandering around with other people who were staying in my hostel and they made my trip. When I was sitting in my bed sick a kind Irish guy, Cian, humoured me by saying the word ‘Thursday’ multiple times and even made a voice recording for me (“listen to it when you are feeling sad”). It was such a small gesture but it warmed my heart and really cheered me up a lot. I hung around with a cheeky British fella, Lewis, who I met after he convinced me to come into the hot tub, where we ended up watching fireworks from (on two occasions!). We later met an American, Patrick, who had a sense of humour as bad as mine and we all hit it off and ended up going on a road trip in Pat’s rental car. I actually had a tour booked (the only one that wasn’t cancelled) but didn’t end up going because I figured a road trip with some new mates would be heaps more fun! The road trip blog post will be next, by the way.
Things I ended up doing in Reykjavik:
-Walked around, a lot!
-Ate chips at Reykjavik Chips: ‘expensive’ because it is Iceland but I highly recommend it, I am a chip connoisseur so trust me.
-Road tripped to The Golden Circle with 2 friends.
-Had drinks in a bar (sorry I cannot recall the name) with the same 2 friends and chatted with other tourists there.
-Had a lot of bed rest lol…
Note: I only pay for attractions and sightseeing when I personally find the subject to be very interesting. I will never pay to do something for the sake of doing it, so my blog posts will never be jam-packed with expensive activities. I am planning to travel long-term and I think this mindset is essential to make sure that happens.
I feel like there are some important lessons from this trip related to travelling in Iceland and just travel in general:
- Understand that there is a possibility that tours may be cancelled, roads may be closed due to extreme weather conditions especially in winter. Cian and his friends even ended up being rescued by the Red Cross (from a restaurant!) and taken to a shelter for several hours. He also saw multiple car accidents from people not being able to stay on the road from severe winds. I wish I had known this as I would’ve been less disappointed and would’ve stayed longer.
- If you are planning a trip to Iceland, try to stay for the double the amount of time or at least extend the time you initially planned to stay to increase your chances of actually doing the activities you want to do. You really need room to be flexible with your plans here.
- Travels don’t always go to plan but neither does life in general, this should be an expectation. Try to go with the flow, accept it when things are beyond your control and move on with it. The fact that I did this made it still possible for me to enjoy my trip. Listen to some upbeat music (I recommend ‘Can’t Complain’ by Relient K for this specific circumstance haha), get some perspective and you will be just fine!
My favourite things I saw in Reykjavik were the mountain views and the futuristic church, Hallgrímskirkja, which is the tallest church in Iceland. I stayed at the Oddsson Hostel which I highly recommend (great facilities, helpful staff, very clean, 20-minute walk from the city). As for implications of this trip, I may have to come back to Iceland, not sure when as it is a budget killer and I may try to see the Northern Lights elsewhere as that was the main reason for my trip there.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it informative.