Iceland Day 1: Þingvellir and Sleep

After months of planning, shopping for the right gear and clothes, and countless hours of lost sleep staying up late trying to imagine the perfect trip, it was finally time to leave for Iceland. My level of excitement for the trip matched my excitement of not having to spend any more time planning things out in conjunction with the other responsibilities of my life.  The time was here, and I was ready to go. 

The journey began with a quick flight from LA to Seattle.  After a short layover, I boarded my plane on Icelandair, and was ready to jump countries.  The flight wasn't terrible, considering I slept most of the 7 hour flight time.  Thanks sleeping medicine.  After finally landing, my first glimpse of this new world was a short walk from the plane to a shuttle that was waiting for us on the runway.  My first impression of breathing Icelandic air: cold.  

After quickly making my way through customs and picking up my bag, I grabbed up a small bottle of Jameson at the airport market and headed out to the main terminal.  A few hours later someone from my car rental company arrived to take me to my car.  Paperwork filled out and all, I hit the road.  First stop: Reykjavik.  I spent a good two hours in the capital city buying some provisions and getting a SIM card for my phone so I could use GPS and internet.  Well worth it.

The first stop on my itinerary was Þingvellir National Park.  Located about 45 minutes northeast of Reykjavik, I found this the perfect place for my first adventure.  The drive up there was a bit of a sensory overload, as I took in the vast, unique Icelandic landscape for the first time.  It was definitely a bit surreal at first, considering I spent so many months planning this trip and looking at pictures online.  Seeing it for real and breathing in the air was pure satisfaction.  

So I arrived at the park around 1 PM, and quickly made my way up to the first viewing platform which overlooked the valley and surrounding mountains that the park sat in.  Again, pure satisfaction.  My initial glimpse of Iceland nature was breathtaking, to say the least.  I was ready to explore a little more.

Þingvellir National Park

The park itself provided plenty of mellow walking trails.  Considering there were people of all ages and families strolling around, I knew I wasn't in for any extreme adventure.  This was exactly what I was looking for for my first outing.  I took my time walking through the park, taking in the scenery, and trying to mentally come to the conclusion that I was in fact actually in Iceland, and that all of the planning and anticipation had finally brought me to this destination. 

I spent about two hours here, casually making my way from one path to another, taking pictures and breathing in the unique Icelandic air.  Every few minutes I had to stop and stare at how incredible this place was, and I was just getting started.  

After making my way back to my car, it immediately hit me that my body was completely drained and I needed some rest.  Something I was not anticipating this early into my trip.  I laid down in the back of my jeep and quickly knocked out into an exhausted slumber.  The lack of sleep from the night before and the drastic time change had quickly caught up to me.  I ended up napping for a solid 4 hours without really even noticing.  I had to force myself to keep moving, as I didn't travel all this way to sleep the days away.  

Having not anticipated sleeping for that long, I decided to skip out on a few other stops I had planned for the day, as to not burn myself out too quickly.  My next stop was the town of Akranes, where I figured I could sleep for the night before heading out the next day.  After arriving at a small campground, my tiredness was amplifying, and I knew it was time to get to bed.  I set up my sleeping bag and pad in the back of my jeep, and watched the beautiful ocean out of the back door as I slowly fell into sleep.  It was only about 8 PM, but I knew tomorrow had plenty of more adventure to come.  Having already been exposed to the beauty of Iceland, my first day ended with pure satisfaction and anticipation with what was to come.