I drove along the Ring road to the very small town of Hella. When I say small I mean there's a super market, gas station, and two restaurants. That's it. Oh I forgot to mention the active Hekla volcano. It's close enough to view from town. When I found my accommodation, I decided to go check out Seljelandsfoss, a beautiful waterfall about half an hour east of Hella. You can actually walk behind the falls which adds to its unique beauty. Lots of tourists and photographers. I found it frustrating to photograph this waterfall because the mist kept spraying on my lens. But when the sun's rays finally peaked out from behind the clouds and rainbow appeared, it was all worth it. I used two ND filters to blur the water and a polarizer to bring out the vivid colours of the rainbow and sky.
I was so tired from staying up for the sunrise in the morning that I slept the day away in my hostel. I was lucky enough to have a 8-person dorm room all to myself, so no one disturbed my slumber. I drove back into Reykjavik to buy a hat and gloves. Boy did they ever come in handy. I didn't expect it to be as cold as it was in certain places. Although the sun was constantly shining, there was often a bitter cold wind. When I got back to my hostel, I debated between visiting the Golden Circle or Gunnuhver for the sunset. I decided on Gunnuhver since it was closer and less touristy. So around 10pm I hopped in my mini and found my way there. Gunnuhver is a 20 minute drive from Keflavik, close to the famous Blue Lagoon.
There is an eerie ambiance about the Reykjanes lighthouse in Gunnuhver. According to legend, Gunnuhver is named after the ghost of a witch named Guðrún who was captured by a preist and dragged into the spring here about 400 years ago. The sulphur mist from the vents enhances the ghostly feel of this place. I enjoyed photographing this location as it is low key and filled with fumaroles and mud pools.
After a surprisingly long, but very uncomfortable sleep in my car, I got up and took a few more shots of Kirkjufell from different angles. It was already 11am so the lighting wasn't exactly optimal. I made my way back to the city. On the way back, I noticed two beautiful horses standing on a hill next to the road. I pulled over and as soon as I got out of the car they came walking towards me. I took some photos and pet them for a little while. We said our goodbyes and I drove back to Reykjavik. I found a hostel to stay in Keflavik so I made my way over there to get my room before heading off to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most iconic places in Iceland to visit. It is a man-made lagoon, formed by the run-off from a geothermal power plant. The blue water is rich in silica and sulfur, and known to have healing powers for those with psoriasis. I tried the mud mask and noticed quite an improvement in my skin. After bathing in the lagoon for a few hours with a couple plastic cups of wine, I went back to my car in the parking lot and fell asleep in the back seat. I woke up a few hours before the sunrise with a nice little hangover and managed to muster up the strength to take photos around the lagoon.
When the sun finally rose at 5am...
I arrived in Keflavik at midnight, got the keys to my rental car and took off to a guesthouse I had booked for the night. I woke up around 7am to get ready and head into Reykjavik. When I got to Reykjavik I bought groceries for trip (mostly junk like beef jerky and chips) and explored the city. It's quite a lovely place, with lots of shops and tourists. But I did not come to Iceland for the city. I left at 8pm to drive up to Kirkjufell in the Snaefellsnes Pennisula, which took about 2.5 hours. I was in awe of the natural beauty of the country as I drove north of the city. I found it difficult to concentrate on driving when there was so much to see. The mountains are what drew me in more than anything. Growing up in Toronto, I had never laid eyes upon anything more than a slight hill (except for when I travelled away of course). When I arrived at Kirkjufell, I parked my car and began scouting for a good location to shoot. Despite my innocent intentions to find a pleasing angle, I must have entered the territory of an Arctic Turn's nest. So the mother attacked, swooning down to give me a nice little thump on the head. I had to run away from her as she kept trying to attack me and I tripped, pretty much falling on my face. Funny in hindsight, but I was actually pretty scared in the moment. After my near-death experience, I found a safe bird-free spot and took the photo above at sunset with a 2 and 4 stop ND filter combined in order to get the blur in the water. It was very cold and windy, but the fresh air felt so satisfying to breathe in. I slept in my car overnight. Note to self: if you're planning to sleep in a rental car, don't rent a mini.
I decided to do something I had never done before: travel alone. I mean, I had traveled alone when I went to New Zealand and Australia for 9 weeks. But I had booked tours for both countries, so I met and traveled with people and I was never truly in solitude.
This time I decided to take 10 days away from everyone and everything and explore Iceland. Just me, a rental car and all my camera equipment. I had to learn to drive manual because renting a manual car was cheaper, but despite a few lessons and practices I still was by no means an expert. I was scared.
In retrospect, I don't know what of. Maybe that something would go terribly wrong and I would be alone with no one to help me. Maybe I was just scared of being alone, engulfed in my own thoughts. I wondered if I could handle the silence and absence of human presence.
I began to talk to myself out loud. I learned to keep myself company. I'm not sure if it's normal or crazy but I would laugh at myself and my own silly comments. No disagreements on where to go or what to do. Just me.
So I decided today that I'm going to write a blog about my 10 days alone. Why not? Maybe it will entertain you, maybe it will even inspire you to do it yourself. Maybe it will bore you. But I'll be posting pictures so hopefully that will make up for any skills I lack in the writing department. Stay tuned!