My trip to Iceland came as a bit of a surprise, not because of how beautiful the country was or because I won a trip there, but because I found an email confirmation one afternoon with confirmation of my flights there. I was on tour working as a European Tour Manager at the time and apparently, a few days previously after a rather big night out in Rome, I had returned to my room in the early hours and booked flights there before passing out and forgetting all about it. What was even more miraculous was that even in that state, I had even managed to book them for the morning after my current tour finished and returning the day before my next tour, four days later. Go drunk James!
To make it more interesting I thought I would just maintain the element of surprise for the trip, so I didn't look into it any more. When I flew into Keflavik airport I didn't even know where I was going to stay, or that the airport was 50km from Reykjavik. Or that it's really bloody expensive there! When I saw how much a bus into town was going to cost, I walked out of the airport and started walking down the road with my thumb. Within a few minutes I'd been picked up and was on my way to Reykjavik. For free.
When I found the hostel my ride had recommended I went in to check in. Whilst I was queuing I got talking to an American guy who was about to check out. Apparently he was travelling by himself and had rented a car for a few days and was off on a road trip to the east coast with three other singles he had met at the hostel. There was an empty seat if I was interested...
I turned and walked out of the hostel.
A short amount of research on Iceland will reveal that most attractions are waterfalls and glaciers. Fortunately I am a huge fan of both! One of the best places for glacier viewing is at the aptly named Glacier Bay. When chunks of glacier break off they become potential icebergs and wash out to sea, but the smaller ones get washed back onto the black sand beach where they slowly get eroded away.
That evening we checked into a hostel in the middle of nowhere on the east coast. As we turned the corner on the stairs up to our room, there were 3 girls stood in the stairwell that weren't wearing very much, with a massive video camera pointing down at them from the top. Initial thoughts that we had just walked in on the filming of a porno were quickly dashed, they were filming a music video for a Swedish electronic group called Elliphant. We were even asked if we minded being filmed...
The end video is actually a great bit of marketing for Iceland having been filmed in some beautiful places and I've even heard the song in a movie too. Sadly though we didn't make the final cut. Here's a link to the video if you were interested:
That evening we figured we should make the most of being away from any light pollution and headed out for a walk to see if we could see the Northern Lights. It was a good decision because after about 30 minutes they came out briefly in the distance. Not the best display ever, but a display none the less!
We spent the next few days driving around, gawping at the barren landscape, visiting glaciers, going on hikes and of course made the obligatory trip to the Blue Lagoon. So despite common belief, getting into cars with strangers can be fun!
It's not often I praise myself for my drunken decisions (in fact that never happens), but booking a trip to Iceland was exceptional. For a random 4 day break I can't think of a better place to go for someone living in Europe. It is such a beautiful country with stunning landscapes, great hikes and amazing fish and chips I can't wait to go back. Topped off by the fact it's only about 2.5hrs flight from the UK it would be silly not to!