The sun began to rise as the plane touched down into Reykjavik airport, yet it was already between 10 and 11am. We were so tired from getting up in the early hours, and I was also tired from going through a difficult time in my life. Sleep was what I needed, but we had roughly 72 hours to make our trip to Iceland count. I was happy to be flying away from real life, and England. I had never landed in a place covered in thick snow before. It was eerie, but beautiful. We shimmied onto a bus, eyes wide at the seemingly large number we had just handed over for two single bus tickets, and my sister fell asleep as I stared out the window bleary-eyed at the desert of snow.
As we stepped off the bus into the middle of a busy, snow covered square, I was grateful for the walking boots we had both purchased last minute from Sports Direct. Mine were a little small (that size was cheaper), but I could completely immerse my feet into the snow without worrying about them getting cold, or worse – wet. I was sorry for the one suitcase we had brought, one wheel rickety and worn, it dragged slowly, and difficultly through the snow. We’d had the suitcase since we were young and years of rolling had taken it’s toll on the poor thing. I don’t usually take a big suitcase on a short trip but all the jumpers and coats we needed weren’t going to fit in carry-on luggage this time. I dread to think how much luggage one needs for skiing.
Over the next few days in Iceland it was clear the layers we wore might never feel quite enough, even when I had on two pairs of old gloves. When we were trying to take photos it was a see how quickly you could take your gloves off – take the photo – and put them back on – kind of job, and boy did we want to take a lot of photos. Iceland was like nowhere I had been before. The colourful buildings popped out of the snow like candles on a birthday cake, and in the background of all the seemingly usual city scenes were dusty white mountains. On the other hand, the tones of grey and teal created such a dreamy muted palette, I was ready to ditch bright colours forever.
Joanna will tell you otherwise, but I think I have been quite lucky with hostels. The hostel we stayed at was called Circle Hostel and was connected to The Reykjavik School of Visual Arts, and the pattern-painted walls, the fairy lights in the foyer, and the sleepy students arriving early in the hallways were a little giveaway. It was fairly basic, and much to Jo’s disappointment there was a shared bathroom. We were a 20 minute walk from the centre, but it was worth it right by the sea, we were looking out across Faxaflói Bay. Unfortunately we were always up too early or back too late to see the sea from our room, but it was pretty awesome to see the rough North Atlantic Ocean as we checked in, and on an early morning stroll.
On that first day we walked back to our hostel after an afternoon exploring and taking shelter in an American diner, and Joanna and I linked arms as we pushed through thick falling snow and laughed at how peculiar it seemed – the streets almost empty, and to our right there was just the deep blackness of the sea, a black hole of space. Yet it was peaceful.
We were exhausted and I coaxed Jo into the shared kitchen for a cuppa (sans milk), and some own-brand Choco Leibniz-style biscuits. We sleepily took sips out of IKEA mugs (which I have since purchased as a reminder) and breathed in the bohemian living space. It wasn’t late by holiday standards, but it was time to go to bed.