Cycling in Iceland was not at all the easiest thing in the world, though human nature helps to get used to everything, even to the cold, to the heat, to the pouring rain and to the disagreeable relief. It would be a lie if we claimed that we had encountered Iceland’s difficulties easily. At the beginning, we had a lot of doubts. A lot. Everyone we met in campings or wherever else judged necessary to look at us pitifully and say something like “you are brave, but I personally would never travel around Iceland by bike”. And all what remained us to do was to look them leaving in their warm cars, while we had not a single dry spot of clothes. I was dreaming to abandon everything, to take a car or at least a bus for the most difficult phases of our journey. After 10 days we stopped mulling over these options, we were just moving on before we closed the circle.
Travelling in Iceland by car is something that is considered “by default”, the greatest (and almost the only one) way to explore this unusual and wild country. Even more cool is to take a 4×4 and to be very cool. We really wanted to find out whether it was true or not and to make a small car trip around Snæfellsnes peninsula. I must admit, that we simply had no time and no force to do this part by bicycle, but to leave without seeing the entrance to “the center of the world”? Impossible.
In Reykjavik, we took a modest Hyundai in Budget Car Rent and 8 a.m. we left in direction of Snæfellsnes and around 21.00 we were already back after around 500km of the road.
How did we feel to be in a car after such long cycling period?
Awesome. The first hour. It was so cozy to be inside this fast, almost like a spaceship, capsule. We were flying through these amazing sceneries, listening to music, being so warm and watching the rain drops leaking down the windows. I repeat – only the first hour. In one hour and a half, we thanked ourselves for not giving up and not taking car to explore Iceland. Let me explain why.
Just imagine, you are installed comfortably on the softest ever seat, you enjoy the sceneries, you feel great. But eventually you have to get out, meet directly Mr. Rain and do something that is not being in the car. Personally, we had no slightest desire to do anything. No hiking, walking or whatsoever. I assume though, that when the weather is good, it might be different. When riding a bike, we are constantly inside the environment, WE ARE the part of the environment, so what the nature offers us becomes…natural.
In Iceland, driving rules are quite strict – it is forbidden to drive off-road or to stop where it was not designed. Which means that even during this small one-day trip the situation “Oh, look, stop, I want to make a picture! Where? I can’t stop here! Okay, forget it” aroused often enough to tire us.
This trip is exactly what we call “consuming”. You move from the point “A” defined by don’t-know-who to the point “B” where you obediently stop to take a picture. Just like every tourist around you.
Honestly, who told that driving a car was not tiring? Because it IS tiring. Not physically, of course, but mentally. The car’s heat, the speed, can’t even say what exactly turned us into a boiled sweaty potato, considering that all the day long we did nothing really exhausting except for watching the road. At least with the bike we can clearly see the efforts applied and the pleasant result like fresh mind, strong body and deep sleep.
500 km seemed to us very boring and very monotonous. The speed 90 km/h doesn’t offer too many possibilities to notice every single change in the sceneries. Considering that the weather was the same all the time, there was no difference at all. 500 km is a week of cycling; I bet it would have been much more diverse.
By saying all this, we have no goal to say that people, travelling by car are losers who didn’t get the sense of life. We realize that not everyone loves cycling, or has enough time for such trips. It is simply a conclusion that we can make even for ourselves: better to take more time, explore smaller area, but to do it in some “slow” way. Cycling in our case, but we met quite a few people who actually “walked” Iceland. Only this way one can really explore rather than consume any country in the world.
And how do you think what’s the difference between exploring and consuming? We’d like to know your opinion!