The flight to Keflavik International was largely uneventful. A few tiny bumps. A bubbly water that I couldn’t order properly (internal monologue: Is it seltzer? Bubbly? Soda? Um….oh! Sparkling!).
We came in for a landing at about 16:30 GMT, which was still the time in Iceland despite the home of the Cutty Sark being left in the dust. I suppose it doesn’t matter much when the sun chooses it’s rising and falling according to its own caprices. As it turned out, 10:30AM sunrises are pretty beautiful.
Our rental was upgraded to a Toyota Rav 4. The tiny airport let us out into the twilight, and we loaded up our new car.
Route 1, the Ring Road, was in far better condition than I would have imagined. It was a proper highway with four lanes of traffic and perfect maintenance! I had been picturing the vast, potholed, isolated, unpaved roads of my beloved Patagonia.
It was…utterly civilised. My nerves about driving for the first time in more than eight months faded. My Colorado upbringing began to come through on the slightly wet roads.
We stopped off at BONUS, and tried to navigate our way through the Icelandic to buy a dinner. We managed to get some cheese, some tortilla chips, some apples, and a bit of the salted, smoked meat that would become our every meal. I noticed that they have whole rooms that are refrigerated, with sliding doors and separate sections for the meat/cheese and veggies/fruit. I’m almost certain that this is to do with Iceland’s ubiquitous sustainable living.
As almost always happens in northern European countries, the cashier spoke to me in the native tongue. We glanced guiltily at the number on the till and made our escape past the Che Guevara and Batman paintings for sale in the entryway of the supermarket.
“Have you ever seen Star Wars Snow?”
“It’s when the snowflakes are fat and you’re driving at night, and the headlights make it look like you’re in hyperdrive.”
Russell got to see Star Wars Snow about ten minutes after that conversation. It was the first snow I’d seen in more than a year. Possibly one of the longest stretches of my life where winter didn’t make a true appearance.
Winter was about to make a big appearance. The road grew smaller, and the trucks seemed to grow bigger. The lights of Reykjavik faded, and the Star Wars Snow closed in. And closed in. And closed in. It suddenly became foggy. Route 1’s lanes disappeared in the white out, being less than strategically painted, in a snowy white. Tall tipper trucks roared by. My terrible, racking cough mercifully backed off, bowing to the threat of sliding off a new road in a blizzard in a brand new country.
After 25 minutes of holding on a smidgen too tightly, the storm suddenly lifted. The roads were practically dry.
We glided down the mountain to the glowing, tiny town of Hveragerði and found our cosy backroom from Airbnb for the night.
We suited up in our brand-new thermal base layers and walked up the road to Cafe Rose for a pint. Despite the bad google reviews, it was a perfectly crap dive bar with beer at our accustomed London prices (literally, paid £8.70 at the Southbank Centre two days before, paid £8.70 at Cafe Rose). It reminded me of Colorado mountain towns, and they had tastefully hidden the gambling machines near the toilets.
Our first night out of London was spent in a warm, quiet, cosy room, watching BBC Northern Ireland on the tiny TV. It was the perfect start for our honeymoon in Iceland.
Next Time-Three Nights in the Middle of Nowhere