I have always wanted to go to Iceland. But I've only wanted to go in the same sort of way that 'I have always wanted to go to' the Shetland Islands and lots of other less obvious 'holiday' places. Had I really wanted to go that much I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have taken 48 years to get on a plane to Keflavik.
The truth is that Iceland is one of those places that doesn't grab you for a summer get-away (it has the word 'ice' in it after all) and it doesn't appeal in the winter (we usually have enough ice of our own).
A wrong turn took us through Rejkavik's warehouse district, which was fortunate as I chanced upon some warehouse murals I'd wanted to see.
Upon arrival we had an unfortunate wait for someone with a sign to appear in Keflavík arrivals hall. I had started to consider just how easy it would be to create a fake camper hire website for overly trusting tourists. Fortunately, Iceland being one of the least criminal nations in the world this was not the case and I suspect a disorganised youth had been made responsible for morning airport runs. He had probably just got up late.
Keflavík isn't too far from Rejkavik, so were soon in its midst. It's not very large and one of its main landmarks, Hallgrímskirkja, is clearly visible whislt driving in.
Reykjavik's colourful houses. It pays to brighten up such a harsh environment as best you can.
And so we left Reykjavik and ventured into Þingvellir national park along empty roads and under heavy skies and with a general surprise at the lack of humans.
Gulfoss waterfall, about 10pm. No rest for the sun at this time of year, but with most of the natural attractions open 24/7 a great time to escape any crowds. (But you need a few people to understand the scale).
Þingvellir national park is an active geothermal area, so hot springs and gisers are abound. This one builds to a hot watery fountain every five minutes or so
The '1' is the main paved ring road, and most of the few interior roads need a 4X4 so can't be driven in the VW Caddy camper I hired. On leaving Þingvellir my only routing dilemma was whether to start clockwise or anti-clockwise. I decided on clockwise as good weather seemed to be moving around in that direction, which turned out to be a good decision.
Glacial valley, Þjóðvegur with dramatic cloud shadows.
Some beautiful roads in every respect up through this part of Iceland.
Huge plains amplify the enormous skies. Distant mountains loom... and odd things that looks like very steeply cliffed islands lurk on the horizon.
Another wide, and mostly empty glacial valley.
Goðafoss waterfall in the Bárðardalur district.
Within a couple of days we were up in the north heading north east towards the geothermal region of Hverir.
Then suddenly... we're on Mars.
Vatnajökull National Park
Mars, but with waterfalls. After a 28km drive down a rutted, gravel road which took ages, and was ludicrously dusty we eventually reached the jewel of the north, Detifoss waterall and the beautiful Selfoss.
Selfoss, a 10 minutes walk up river from Detifoss. Simply stunning.
Lupins Lupins Everywhere...
Skógafoss waterfall. We managed to camp for the night right next to it.
We walked to Mýrdalsjökull, 'The Black Glacier', the icecap covering active volcano Katla which has a caldera 10 km across. Slightly worrisome.
Finally, a decent coffee.
Bjarnarey island from the ferry out to Heimaey. I wonder who lives here. Turns out there's a lot of speculation on the internet for here and the next-door island of Elliðaey. Maybe one of them really is Björks retreat.
Heimaey is basically a massive volcano with a few vents. People live there. Sometimes they die. Only one person died during the last eruption of Eldfell in 1973. Worryingly, the town at it's foot is now much bigger.
View from the top of Eldfell looking over Helgafell and the rest of the Vestmannaeyjar, including Surtsey.
Back inland, this time it is The Blue Lagoon.
Having existed in a small van for eight days, the Blue Lagoon was a welcome treat to soak away the squalor of the miles.
Epic. Vast. Unpredictable. I hope I return.