Previously, we followed the group as they explored West Coast U.S.A. This time we read along as they fly across the ocean to Iceland!
Will and his friends have described Iceland as “a different world completely.” Located north of Scotland and west of Norway, it is the westernmost country in Europe. Because of its location so close to the Arctic Circle, from mid-May to mid-August the sun sets for only a few hours per day. Starting the second week in June, Will and his companions spent almost three weeks hitchhiking more than 1000 miles around the country.
The most valuable items in the boys’ packs for this leg of the trip were their eye masks. All jokes aside (and they made a few), these simple light-blockers allowed the trio to sleep peacefully in the constant daylight.
When in Iceland, a popular treat for locals and tourists alike is a visit to one of the many geothermal hot springs for a dip in mineral-rich groundwater heated from the Earth’s crust. Will and his friends took advantage of numerous hot springs locations around the country—to get the full Icelandic experience, of course!
The plan for this leg of the trip was to travel Iceland using the Ring Road, also known as Route 1, which is a national road stretching 828 miles around the island. Many communities, settlements, and popular destinations are easily accessible using the Ring Road.
A natural phenomenon that is a must-see when traveling in Iceland is the “midnight sun,” which occurs in the summer months. During times of the midnight sun, the sun remains visible at the local midnight, makings it visible for the full 24 hours. After camping in Laugarbakki, the trio hitched the next day to Akureyri where they were able to experience this sight.
Along with the natural phenomenon of Iceland, the group was able to explore other natural sights of the country. Early in the trip they were able to visit Dettifoss, which (at a water flow of 193 m3/s) is considered to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Futbol is an important aspect of Icelandic culture. In Vestmannaeyjar, Will and his companions met a local, named Jonny, at the town’s ice cream shop who played for the local team.
Of course, they didn’t forget about the food. Will and his friends tried 4 of the 5 Icelandic delicacies during their visit: horse tenderloin, puffin, fermented shark, and head of sheep. To see the picture of Will with the head of sheep, click here.
Much of the trip was spent exploring trails and landmarks. Unfortunately, bad weather did not allow them to spend as much time as they wanted on the hikes. They did get to explore areas where the landscape seemed to change drastically every five miles. They forded freezing rivers, trekked through deep snow, and pushed through chilling winds. In the end, they saw beautiful sights and had a memorable adventure. The best reward: relaxing again in one of the beautiful (and warm) natural hot springs.
Once again, Will and his friends were amazed by the willingness of strangers to lend a helping hand during their journey around Iceland. After a slow start, they were able to make the more than 800-mile journey in 34 hitches. At one point, they didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes from one hitch to another! During their time on the road they met many wonderful and interesting people. They received a ride from two recent high school graduates who took them sightseeing and let them listen to a “pump up song” they had written for their high school (which is apparently a common thing in Iceland).
Many of their experiences interacting with others in Iceland showed them just how kind and generous people can be. They met people who would talk with them, laugh with them, and just stand around with them in the rain so they wouldn’t be alone. One woman, who has been to over 61 countries, offered them a place to stay in Vancouver. Even at the end of their trip, they met a really cool guy who showed them around the area and then drove them 28 miles to the airport!
Next up: Sweden!