I have been to Iceland three times. The first was incredibly traumatic, the second was not at all traumatic, and the third was moderately traumatic.
All these Iceland shanigans happened because if you fly Icelandair to Europe, 1) the tickets are cheaper than Delta, and 2) you get to hang out in Iceland for a few days if you want.
So the first time was last summer when I flew to Paris. It was my first time out of the country, I was traveling alone, and by the time I arrived there it was 1am Colorado/Utah time. I ruined my hair at the Blue Lagoon, thought I lost my luggage, could eat nothing but yogurt and chocolate (gluten-free, yo), and fell asleep face-down on a table in the airport. Not good.
The second time was on my way home after two months in Paris. I was apprehensive because of my experience on the way there, but everything went well and I spent two days is Reykjavik having the time of my life. I wandered around and learned cool things about the city and ate overpriced food and went on a puffin-watching tour, and this photo I took from the plane has been my phone background ever since.
So I was pretty excited to come back to Iceland again. This time I booked one day in Iceland on my way to Munich so I could go do one of the day tours I didn't have a chance to do last time. But unfortunately for me, my flight once again came in at midnight Utah time (6am Iceland time), fresh on the heels of finals week, and I didn't realize what a bad idea that was until I had already booked my tour...
When I came here last year I was so filled with awe and wonder for the land and the people. Maybe it's because I was sleep-deprived or because I traveled too much in the past year or because I've been here before, but this time I looked out the window at the moss-covered lava fields and felt absolutely nothing.
...Besides a crushing loneliness that I've been dreading since I first found the listing for IDEO's internship. I spent all of last week saying goodbye to my people in Utah and I was lucky enough that one of my friends was on my connecting flight to Seattle, but the fact of the matter is that I don't travel alone well.
Fun Fact: Your happy excitable Camilla that you all know and love simply doesn't exist when I don't have my people to bounce off, and it's exacerbated when I'm in a foreign country. I legitimately thought that part of me died last summer in Paris and I was so afraid it wasn't going to come back when I got home.
But the fact of the matter is I don't do well alone. I haven't smiled in two days and the knowledge that I will spend the next four months on my own is absolutely debilitating.
Don't tell me it will be fine. Don't tell me I'll make friends. Don't tell me anything in the comments on this post because I've been told it already. I'll work it out. Thanks.
But anyway, you're here to read about Iceland...
The first thing I did when I got to my hostel was to walk to the sea. I had been planning on getting some sleep but I also wanted to see the Sun Voyager statue. It's just a metal Viking ship at the edge of the ocean but there was something special about it last time when it was hit by the rays of the evening sun, there's something about it that connotes possibility and direction, and I wanted to see the Sun Voyager statue.
I walked on the big rocks instead of the path and felt a bit more like myself. When I looked back some random guy far behind me was walking on the rocks too. Cool.
I hung out at the statue for a little bit and then wandered back into town. Found a disappointing yarn store and hung out in the cool church. Hooray.
I got back to my hostel in time to be picked up for the tour. This was when I was posting all of that stuff on social media ( h o o r a y for tour bus wifi). I tried to look out the window at the scenery but was instead overtaken by acute lack of sleep and the unbearable weight of being.
I woke up at the sound of the tour guide's voice. First we went to a hot springs/geyser thing. Reminded me a lot of Yellowstone, including the gazillion tourists with smartphones (among which number I am shamefully a part). It was sorta cool but I was still struck with that incredible apathy. So I climbed a hill and saw some cool colors and some cool views on the other side.
After that we went to a waterfall called Golfuss, because apparently it turns gold in the evening light. This waterfall was pretty cool because as you walk up the trail, you see different parts of it and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. It was really pretty and sprayed up a rainbow. I enjoyed taking pictures of it with my iPhone's Live Photo setting (basically it takes a tiny video), but once again...there were tourists everywhere. I know that I am one, but it just kind of cheapens the experience, ya feel?
After that we drove to a national park, designated as a UNESCO world heritage site because 1) it's a Rift Valley between the European and North American tectonic plates, and 2) at a site now marked by a flagpole at the North American side of the valley, ancient Iceland used to hold their yearly parliament.
We drove through the valley and then drove back to Reykjavik. I fell asleep again and was so incredibly lonely I felt like I was going to die. The nice thing about a tour bus is that no one will notice if you cry as long as you're kind of sneaky.
I walked through Reykjavik and ate some very expensive Indian food because all food in Iceland is very expensive and I know I can count on Indian to be gluten free. I came back to my hostel under the unbearable weight of being and fell asleep while it was still light outside, woke up at 4am this morning, and rode back to the airport for my plane to Munich.
Yesterday the day was incredibly clear but this morning Iceland went back to being Iceland-like, cloudy and cold and rainy.
So yeah, Iceland is cool but you can find just as cool things in Utah or Colorado or anywhere. It's like when you meet one of your heroes and find out how normal they are—a person is just a person, and a place is a place.
Iceland is weird. Maybe there is something to that barren landscape, something in the air, maybe there are elves after all. Maybe it's the lack of sleep but for the past two days whenever I close my eyes I experience something halfway between hallucinations and dreams, strange nonsensical visions that incorporate the sounds of the tour guide's voice or the plane engine, sights of people from industrial design, views of the planet, the warmth of the sun—
I didn't mean to live this life. I've got more stabilitylust than wanderlust if I'm honest with you.
But mean to or not I'm a Sun Voyager, I live a life of direction and possibility and I'm going to do this thing and it's going to turn out all right. Iceland is a weird place but I felt better by the time I got to Copenhagen, now I'm on the last leg of my journey on the plane ride to Munich, tomorrow I have church, and Monday I have IDEO.