Iceland Pt. 1: Reykjavík
Iceland had been #1 on my mental bucket list for some time when things fell into place for me to go this summer. I had just declared Environmental Science as my major, and with an empty 4-month summer looming ahead of me, this trip appeared on the horizon like a confirmation of every choice I had ever made. One month, 20 other students, and I’d get credit for my major. Trip of a lifetime, some would say.
As excited as I was, these, unfortunately, were not the thoughts running through my head during my first hour in Reykjavík. No, they were more along the lines of “Stupid *bleep*ing tent,” and “Why did I sign myself up to spend a month sleeping on the ground, again?”
It was a comfort to see that at least half of the people around me were also manically wrangling tent poles and cursing at unruly ground tarps- I was not struggling alone.
Although I had a decent résumé of previous camping experience, a month in the Icelandic elements was daunting. Never have I ever been so glad I took a risk.
Eventually, with proudly assembled (although not particularly stable) tents, we set off to explore. We spent six nights in a campground plopped right in the middle of residential Reykjavík, and I was quickly enamored with the city’s quirky and lovable vibe.
Each day brought a different adventure. We sipped on overpriced beers in the steamy blue waters of the Blue Lagoon (worth it just to say you have), hiked into the clouds on Esja, a mountain range overlooking Reykjavík, walked on a lot of lava, and made some scenic pit stops along the golden circle.
And when the bus dropped us back at camp, freezing and drained, it was priceless to have the Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool next door. Soaking our sore muscles shoulder to shoulder with Icelanders of all ages, as well as searching out the best late night hot dog places (lamb hot dogs are big in Iceland) were some of my favorite parts of Reykjavík.
That and the novelty of playing frisbee in broad daylight at 11pm.
We started and ended our trip at the Reykjavík campsite, and it felt a little bit like coming home when we set up camp there on our second to last night in Iceland.
Thankfully by this time we were seasoned pros at setting up and breaking down camp, my tent and I had an inexplicably close bond, and sleeping on the ground felt like a habit I would have a hard time breaking.