It was our last few days in Iceland, and we were exhausted. Ten days is a long time, and sleeping in a van definitely took its toll. So with all of that in mind, we opted to skip the most-visited tourist destinations in the Golden Circle, and head to Reykjavik to rest at a hostel and explore the city. 

Our first stop after getting settled in a hostel: a pizza joint. We had been craving pizza for days, and it was refreshing to be in a more densely populated place after over a week in the countryside. It was also one of the few times it really hit me that I was so far from home. It’s easy to forget when you’re on a hike or seeing wildlife, and it wasn’t until I was in a grocery store or pub and I heard people speaking other languages that I really felt foreign. For my first international trip, it didn’t always feel so international. 

Photo credit: Chelsea Erola

We spent the next day sleeping in and exploring the city on foot (I was very glad to be through the most stressful part of the journey for me - driving stick). We had breakfast at a lovely cafe called Sandholt, and took a few pastries to go. We did the usual tourist thing and browsed shops for souvenirs for our friends and family. 

I did a fair bit of walking around the city, and it honestly shocked me a bit how small Reykjavik really is. There’s not a ton to do at first glance, so I was glad we didn’t try to rush through other things on our trip to give us more time here. It is beautiful though, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. 

Rainbow Street


Traditional Icelandic food at Café Loki

The last item on our list before we headed home was arguably the most popular destination in Iceland: the Blue Lagoon. I didn’t take many photos here because I was focused on trying to relax and enjoy the last few hours of this trip. And relax I did. I don’t think it’s necessarily worth the huge hype it gets, and there are certainly plenty of other hot springs and nature baths similar to the Blue Lagoon (the Nature Baths in Myvatn were just as lovely and less crowded), but it was a great way to end the trip. 

After days in a camper van and limited showers, a soak and a face mask hit the spot. While I floated in the water, I reflected on the trip. There were so many highlights it was hard to remember everything, which is why I’m recounting everything here. Whale watching, puffins, audiobooks, glaciers, so many waterfalls, the hidden Pakgil campground, horseback riding, driving manual, Icelandic chocolate and yogurt, hot springs and lava fields, beaches and cliffs - ten days had never felt so long and so short. As we got out of the lagoon, showered and headed back to the van, I knew I’d always appreciate everything that happened on this trip. The amazing and the stressful, the beautiful and the dirty and everything in between.