Published: March 1st 2011March 1st 2011
We could feel that weightlessness you feel as you descend towards the runway, but had been in a cloud for some time and had given up looking out for the Icelandic mainland from a bird's eye view. Suddenly, the mist disappeared and we were only about 20 feet up from the ground; within seconds, we'd touched down at Keflavik airport. The scenery was snow for as far as the eye could see, we were desperate to get out and sample some cool Icelandic air. We picked up our 4x4 from the airport and without too much explanation, we were on our way.
It took about 15 minutes to encounter the first problem. A moment's lack of concentration at the roundabout caused the car (Korean) to stall. A common problem: but sadly, it wouldn't start again. We switched on the hazards and tried every trick we knew to get it going again for about 5 minutes whilst blocking a lane. Eventually we called the hire company to ask for advice. Solution: depress the clutch as you turn the ignition. We were under way again.
Our next hurdle came in Reykjavik, as we took a wrong turn and ended up needing to u-turn in a primary school car park in the thick snow. Once we'd given further study to our free map, we worked out where we'd gone wrong and headed away from Reykjavik on the main ringroad headed east.
On our way towards Selfoss, we stopped off at a mountainside cafe for coffee and biscuits. A small little wooden hut, somehow heated amongst the endless snow and clouds, it was a welcome break. We passed through the small town of Selfoss and deviated north from the ringroad up road 30 towards Gulfoss, our intended destination. By this time, it was approaching 17:00 and the weather was getting less welcoming. As you go into the interior of Iceland, the roads and the weather deteriorates. Often the road was difficult to see underneath the snow, the wind was lashing the rain at the car as it swayed on the ice. As darkness began to be iminent, and the road less visable, we decided to turn around and wait for Gulfoss another day. We double backed at a snail's pace to a hotel we passed on the way and checked in there in the driving rain and wind. Once settled and dinner in our bellies, we stepped out into the freezing cold and rain in our swimming things into the outside hot tub. Spring water geo-thermally heated to a warm bath in the cold but crisp and fresh Icelandic outdoors is a feeling to savour.
Now we plan an early night and an early start tomorrow to see if we can make it any further into the inhospitable interior.