A Day in Iceland

Mike and I are carrying on, seeing sights and spending time in the saddle. We’re now in Vik, the southernmost city in Iceland. From here we head northeast to one of the least populated coastal areas of Iceland. You probably won’t hear from us for several days.

Since we last checked in, we’ve seen huge waterfalls, our first glimpses of glaciers, black sand beaches, caves, and more cute countryside.

Here’s an idea of what a typical day looks like:

0900-1100 Wake up and start moving. The timing depends on when we went to bed and how hard it’s raining outside. Since we’ve camped every night since the first night we spent with couchsurfer hosts, rain factors heavily into our decision of when to start moving. Once we’re up, we usually eat möffins and some delicious flavor of yogurt drink. Occasionally we’ve had eggs or bacon or breakfast burritos, but those are tricky on a camping stove.

1200-1500 Start biking. It takes a long time to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, take down the tent, and reload our bikes. Since it’s almost always light out, we’re generally not in any hurry. We bike when we’re good and ready to.

1400-2200 Bike and stop. Once we get going, we don’t stay going for long. There’s so much to see along the way that we rarely get in a 5-mile stretch without stopping to take pictures of something. Alternatively, we stop to put on or take off clothing. I have an on-again-off-again relationship with my rain gear. It’s also quite easy to freeze your tail off going downhill and to work up a sweat going uphill. Clothes are tricky here, though I’m usually wearing 3-4 layers. Anyway, we stop to change, to take pics, and to eat. Most of our food is camping food. Groceries are expensive, but restaurants are even more expensive. We’ve prepared most of our meals so far. In between eating stops and photo stops and layering stops, we sometimes take small detours to see sights. Yesterday, for instance, we went 12km out of the way to Dyrholaey, which is an area along the coast with cool rock formations and black sand beaches. It’s also popular with seabirds, and Mike pissed one off by getting to close to its nest. It flew over his head swooping towards him (to within 6 inches) for about a minute as we tried to hurriedly bike by.

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2200-0200 Set up camp. We often arrive at our destination rather late, at which time we set up our tents and sleeping bags, eat something, charge and use electronics if possible, and plan the next day. You’d be alarmed by how much time we spend just organizing our gear and attempting to keep things dry.

0200-1000 Sleep comfortably. No matter how wet and cold we are during the day, our tent has always been dry and warm. I’ve been sleeping very well thanks to Mike’s brilliant research on tents. We purchased a Hilleberg, and it’s the best thing ever. It’s a 3-person tent with a large vestibule, so we have room to sleep without crushing each other and we have enough room to keep all of our bike bags out of the rain. Our bikes suffer the elements, but they’re the only things that don’t fit well. If necessary, we could fit them too, though. Another awesome feature of the tent is that you can set up the rain fly before setting up the inner tent. This “inner sanctum,” as we call it, is far easier to keep dry when you can set it up and take it down while you’re sheltered from the rain by the rain fly. It’s a very cool and extremely convenient design. I don’t think I’d survive Iceland without it. We’ve seen another couple traveling by bike and staying in a 1.5 person tent. They might be saving weight, but it looks miserable.

Other things of note:

+ There are a bunch of French kids playing UNO now. Mike thinks they should be playing UN.
+ Icelanders eat a TON of ice cream. I believe Mike read about this somewhere before, but we’ve witnessed it first hand. Every gas station has an ice cream section where you can get cones or sundaes or whatever, and there are always lines there! People regularly go to the gas station just to get ice cream. The favorites seem to be cones dipped in either caramel or chocolate sauce. We’ve had one cone dipped in carmel so far, and it was delicious, but it just seems so cold to eat so much ice cream.
+ Speaking of cold, all of the Icelanders keep telling us this is the coldest summer in 20, maybe 30 years. They say last year it was like Hawaii.
+ We met a woman from Alaska on a Bike Friday. There are always several bikers at our campsites.
+ Our “American style” muffins have caramel sauce in them. I’ve never had a caramel muffin in the States before. Perhaps they mean South American since the sauce is a lot like manjar.
+ Drivers are very courteous here. Though we’ve been traveling on the country’s main highway, it feels about as safe as bike travel along a road can. By the way, the main highway is only a two-lane road. There’s not much traffic on it, though I suspect the traffic may be heavier closer to Reykjavik. That’s one of our last stops though, and it’s mostly small towns till then.

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Comments
4 Responses to “A Day in Iceland”
  1. Dawn Willging says:

    What a great blog of your adventure! Your pictures are gorgeous and/or hilarious!! My hubby was in Phoenix last week and it was 114 in the shade. So you’re very smart to be eating ice cream in Iceland. 🙂

  2. Bob Self says:

    What a great adventure you’re having–and what a great time it is to follow you! As with your earlier top ten, thank you for sharing the experiences and the places.

    Keep on truckin’

    Bob

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