Recently 5 friends and I emptied out our bank accounts and boarded a budget airline to Iceland, the start of what we hoped would be the best college spring break trip of our young lives. I worked for months eating ramen and cheap pizza, saving every last dime I could to afford this trip, and bought about $1000 dollars worth of camera gear to document the trip.
After months of planning, saving, and dreaming, we left Fayetteville early in the morning on Friday, March 17th and began a 20 hour drive to Newark, NJ to catch our flight out, as there were no available flights out of Fayetteville, Dallas or any of the surrounding areas and we couldn't afford a connecting flight. We arrived in New York and took a train into Newark, leaving our car with some friends and flying out of Newark at 5pm on Saturday, eager to catch a few hours of sleep on the plane. We arrived in Reykjavic, Iceland at 5am, Iceland time, and since sleeping would ruin our acclimation efforts, immediately rented a car and headed for the mountains.
We hiked for a few miles to find the waterfall known as Glymur, nestled into the the side of the tallest mountain in Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur. The air was thin and hard to breathe and the wind cut like a thousand tiny icicles, but we made it to the waterfall, which had been frozen over most of the winter season. After taking a few pictures we headed back down, eager for some lunch and rest. That night we stayed in a house in Keflavic, belonging to a nice man who was a prominent Liverpool fan, an allegiance we shared. It was refreshing, yet somehow odd to see an English soccer team banner in such a distant place.
For the next two days we set out to Vatnajokull National Park to check out some of the waterfalls in the region. I flew a drone out over some of them and nearly lost it a few times due to the high winds, but got some breathtaking video footage, making the risks worth it. We even found a hidden waterfall descending into a cave like formation called Gljúfrabúi. After emerging, we were soaked and cold but reveled in the fact that we had found our own "secret waterfall" to explore.
In addition to the waterfalls, we got to see two black sand beaches, bathe in a hot spring, find an abandoned plane and even see the northern lights when driving one night. We were so excited when the lights began that night that we actually ended up driving the car into a snowbank and had to be pulled out by two Russian fellows on their way to Vik. We tried to communicate a "thank you" as best we could but knew very little Russian, so just smiled and shook their hands.
Iceland was unforgettable, and I can't wait to go back, however, I will save enough to enjoy some comfort the next time I travel, as 40 total hours in the car isn't ideal when you haven't showered in a few days.