You could browse over the general direction of my life the last four years and conclude I should be familiar enough with winter weather and harsh climates to not voluntarily walk off an aircraft into a blizzard, in Iceland, at 6:20 in the morning to hunt down a compact rental car in the dark. But that seemed a little boring, so I decided to do it in flip-flops. 15 hours of previously pure delight immediately become a half hour of absolute torture. Stupidity aside, actually, we're not done with that yet, because there's no greater terror than, on your first night in Iceland, sprawling out on your hostel bed getting your camera gear together to discover you don't have that not-at-all-important camera battery charger. My four fully charged batteries should last me at least two days in temperatures constantly below freezing. Fortunately, that two days left me just enough time to panic about where to find a 5D Mark III battery charger somewhere in Iceland. Unfortunately, it also left 29 days of something between sheer horror, and complete and utter misery if I didn't. And now, just a few quick tips, or, light humour, for your benefit on a trip to Iceland... 1. It's too cold to sleep in your car in Iceland in late October. Yes, even for an accidental 45 minute nap under the northern lights at 2am, let alone an entire night to save on accommodation. "Well, I'll just leave the car running for a while to keep it warm." No. Because, while for the rest of the world, oil is $50 a barrel again, in Iceland, they're still buying their oil at $200 a barrel. That, or there's a little bit more profit in that 231.9 Króna/Litre than you have come to expect. So yes, you can idle your car for most of the night to stay warm, but by the morning, it will have been cheaper to have paid for a guesthouse. Plus, you'll get breakfast at a guesthouse. And a bed. 2. Don't drive an eighth of the country in a matter of hours to the exact halfway point between the only two cities in the entire country with a camera store, and THEN realize you didn't pack your camera charger. They're expensive there. 10,990 Icelandic Króna expensive. Also, as discussed, so is gas, which makes backtracking almost 400 kilometres to Reykjavík very expensive. 3. On the sides of highway 1, the big white, and a few metres further, even bigger blue signs with a picture of a camera on them, and subsequently the big metal poles with cameras attached to the tops of them, don't indicate a beautiful photo opportunity. It's photo radar. Make sure you're doing 90km/h.
Despite a slightly comedic beginning, there was nothing more special, genuinely majestic, and perfectly timed with infinite varieties of inspiration than my first days back in Iceland. Including night number two, which began in a 40º geothermal pool with light snow falling overlooking a fjord listening to the ocean crash against the shore below, and ended a very special four hours later, still basked in the warmth of the pool, with the northern lights dancing uncontrollably overhead. So much more to come, friends.