We hit the ground at Keflavík International Airport around 9 in the morning, local time. Up to that point I’d slept around 20 fitful minutes on the plane ride over, which lent the remaining day a bit of a surreal edge to it (for example, I dozed in the car, head lolling this way and that while dreaming of eating a hamburger only to wake at the snapping of my empty jaws). That being said the surreal day and the following two did bring about some of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen.
Those three days in the south also gave me an interesting perspective on the country and its visitors. There is an unusual aspect of Iceland and its tourist culture in that it is completely possible to drive miles and miles without seeing another car on the road only to turn down a gravel path to find tour buses unloading masses of travelers, cameras at the ready, trundling towards this waterfall or that. The entire country is stunning, and each portion has its own unique sense of place, but there are also certain points that have been seemingly deemed more beautiful than others. Perhaps it is the fact that the majority of these places have easy access, while some of the more remote areas remain largely unflocked.
But despite the flocks and tour buses, there were some quite moments: a sandy-crunch walk along Vik’s beach, an empty church atop a hill, the top of a minor waterfall in Skaftafell National Park, a crunch of crampon on glacier ice.