Things you should do immediately, according to Mary:
- Go to Iceland.
- Rent a Snail Van.
- Explore the coolest land known to man and rest assured your life is now complete.
That last part is mostly just the result of the first 2.5. It'll happen naturally. BUT SERIOUSLY.
If you follow me on instagram or snapchat you saw that I was in ICELAND last week! AAAH! To say it was an incredible week would be the biggest understatement e.v.e.r. — it was mind-blowing and gorgeous and breathtaking and absolutely unbelievable. My pictures don't begin to do the landscape justice — it's so vast and dramatic, my poor little iPhone took more panoramas in one week than it has in the rest of it's life!
As I began researching travel in Iceland, it was quickly clear that I'd want my own wheels. Then, as the options for what to see and where to go overwhelmed me, I realized: I don't want hotel reservations. I don't want to plan where I'll be. I WANNA BE FREEEE! Since I was there in high tourist season (July) there was no way I'd risk NOT having a hotel reservation — a campervan seemed like the absolute perfect solution. And honestly? I wouldn't have done it any other way. Our Snail Iceland Van was PERFECT! (Also, Iceland is EXPENSIVE! This getting a van is, I think, a much more cost effective way to see the country!)
Here's what it happened: We (the other half of "we" being Kelsey, BFF since age 4, NBD) arrived at the Keflavik Airport (!!!) where we were greeted by part of the Snail team! We drove to Reykjavik where we met the rest of the Snail Team — it's a family operation, and you can absolutely tell by the friendly service! They fed us (and even had some Portland coffee!!), and then we met our van. OUR SNAIL VAN! We were pumped. We had a yellow VW perfect for two people!
Behind the drivers seat was the kitchen: functioning sink with running water, cute little 1-burner stove, plenty of storage bins, and a bunch of handy things we would never have thought to bring (clips for closing bags, clothesline, etc.). Behind the passenger seat was a cute little fridge! We used it as a cooler, and put the stuff outside in a plastic bin at night. It got cold enough at night and then would stay nice and chilly in the fridge during the day. Perfect!
The couch in the back of the van folds down to make a massive bed, with plenty of storage underneath it. We ended up leaving it as a bed the entire time, so we didn't make/unmake it every day. I was honestly nervous about sleeping in the van and not being comfortable, but it was a surprisingly comfortable setup! We even had pillows, and duvet covers on our big fluffy comforters! Seeing as it actually got COLD at night, we were really grateful that the van had a heater back by the bed. We could turn it on for an hour before bed, and generally make it through the night without turning it back on, then turn it on when we woke up — without even having to get out from under the covers! It was nice to get the van toasty before having to get out of bed — it made mornings much easier!
We moved in (um, threw our backpacks under the bed...), headed to the grocery store, and were off! We kept things pretty simple in the food department: oatmeal for breakfast, cheese/pb/crackers/apples for lunch, and noodles for dinner. Plus pop tarts and cookies and trail mix and chocolate covered raisins, duh,for snacking. The van even had a pourover with filters for making coffee! HOW VERY HIPSTER AWESOME! Also, USB ports for charging phones (and playing music!)! Handy dandy!
Here's a little look at our route (we went counter clockwise, and did the jut inland at the very end, before going back to Reykjavik!):
For the most part, that's exactly where we drove. We also ended up in Reykjavik, but the Google is smarter than I and I didn't want to add the final leg. So. Connect the dots :)! I've marked some of our favorite waterfalls, other features, and *exactly* where we slept each night. With the exception of one night in a campground, we just pulled off the road and found ourselves a nice little private place to sleep every night! Usually with great views. And no neighbors. SO GOOD!
The best part about having a van to see Iceland is simply put: FREEDOM! We had a rough plan each day — and knew we'd be moving quickly, since we did in 6 days what most people take weeks to do — but for the most part, we just set out on the road and drove. If we saw something gorgeous, we'd pull over! So, basically every two minutes. If we were hungry, we'd make lunch/dinner! If we wanted to sleep, we'd sleep! If we wanted to stay where we were and soak in the scenery for everrrrr, we could! Everything we needed was in the van, and we didn't have to worry about anything other than seeing ALL THE THINGS. Absolutely PERFECT!
As for what we actually did — we mostly just took in the scenery! We took a bunch of hikes, some short, some longer. We saw a lottttt of waterfalls. We walked up volcanoes and down inbetween techtonic plates. We listened to the Walter Mitty soundtrack on repeat (and TayTay's 1989, duh). We went hot-tubbing/hot-springing whenever we could, partially just so we could take a shower. We ate hotdogs at gas stations. We snapchatted the most ridiculous things ever (like a high-speed goldfish toss straight into my mouth. TEAM WORK!). We stood on cliffs and under waterfalls. We said 'OMG THIS IS RIDICULOUS' every other second because seriously, the place was ridiculous. We smelled flowers. We gawked at pretty ponies. We ate skyr. We bought wool sweaters. We did NOT hit any sheep (this is actually surprising, since there are SO many sheep and many of them choose to stand riiiiight next to the road). We did hit a lot of bugs. We instagrammed. We tried and failed to speak in Icelandic. We took a ferry! We ate instant noodles. We pretty much just had the best freaking week I can remember having, ever.
Like I mentioned above, Snail is a family business — Sigrún and Arnih are so warm and welcoming, even hosting guests (like us!) in their own home for the night in Reykjavik. Sigrún and I cooked together on our final night — she introduced me to a KILLER recipe for fish and sweet potatoes (with brown butter and chiles ... hellooo!) — and made both of us feel right at home.
If you're going to Iceland, I cannot recommend getting a Snail van enough! They have more than 30 vans, of all different sizes, and will absolutely take care of you! You can find them online, on Facebook, and on Instagram. Go give 'em some love!
Also, keep an eye out for more Iceland posts! I'll post more pictures (and maaaaaybe even put together a video? Don't get too excited...) ASAP! xo
Snail.is generously provided the van for our trip, but all opinions are my own! They are the best!