Monday, December 4, 2023


RVing Iceland: Gorgeous country, friendly people

By Chuck Woodbury

The trail to Vatnajokull glacier

Originally published in September, 2011

In his 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne’s characters descend from an Iceland volcano and discover a fascinating subterranean world. From what I can tell, now three days into my one-week RV trip in Iceland, they could have just stayed right on the earth’s surface. This is one incredible country!

The weather has been lousy so far — off-and-on rain showers, heavy mist and even pea-soup fog, yet the countryside, as it passed by outside my little campervan as it rolled down Highway One, has been stunning, often unworldly, ever-changing and, in a word, magnificent. I only wish I were a geologist to understand more about what I am seeing. But what I do know is that the land here was created by volcanoes — some from ancient times, others from geologically “yesterday.”

Where the earth is separating: The rock to the left is the American plate. To the right: the European plate. Right here, the continents are gradually separating, sending them farther apart.

I spent my first day and night in the capital of Reykjavik, a “cute” little town that could borrow the phrase “Biggest Little City” from Reno, Nevada for its own. It’s huge by Icelandic standards — about 200,000 people, which accounts for two-thirds of the entire country’s population. The driving is easy in the mini-metropolis. At night, the locals and visitors dine or sip coffee at cafes. Reykjavik feels European, which makes sense because Iceland is part of Europe.

THE FOLLOWING DAY, in a period of only about eight hours, I stood where the North America and European land plates are slowly separating, pushing the two continents farther apart. Then, just down the road a bit I visited Europe’s largest waterfall at Gullfoss; it took my breath away. Then, I finished my day camped in a two-minute walk from the Strokkur geyser and the others in its field where the word geyser originated.

Now, as I write you, I am about to visit the Vatnajokull glacier, just a short walk from my campsite. Waking up this morning and sipping my coffee with a glacier as a backdrop was an incredible treat.

I return home on Monday after three wonderful weeks away, two weeks in England and now a week in Iceland. I urge you to visit here. Make this a stopover on a trip to Europe. If you fly Iceland Air you can get off, stay a week, and then get back on your plane for no extra fee.



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