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29 June 2011

First Day in Iceland: Full of Things to See!

Day 30: Sunday, 19 June 2011
ICELAND. I cannot believe I'm here. It's a surreal country, and a surreal time of the year to visit - the sky is light 24 hours a day!

I awoke around 8am to the sound of my alarm. I felt instantly disoriented. The 10-bed hostel room had really warmed up overnight, and the empty beds had filled up with late night reveling travelers. I looked around for Ueli and then realized that, for the first time in a month, he wasn't there anymore. I went downstairs and checked my email to see when/how to meet Jurate and Nerijus, my travel partners, and as I was coming up the stairs, there they were! So I quickly showered and got ready, and as I checked out downstairs, there was Jared, our 4th travelmate. I panicked a bit, as I couldn't find my cell phone, but after running up and downstairs, it turned out to be wrapped up inside my sleeping bag! Doh!

Fueled by a small breakfast of a  chicken curry wrap and an orange soda, I was ready to go. We loaded our bags into the silver Suzuki Grand Vitara and hit the road. For this road trip, Jurate is navigating us with the GPS on her phone, but there's no ipod jack in the car. We headed out of Reykjavik toward ├×ingvellir, the first stop on the well-worn Golden Circle tourist route. Along the way, we stopped at a really nice looking stream with a field of small horses across the road. We took pictures. Then, we stopped at a big field near the lake where plenty of other people had stopped to look at hundreds of small stone structures of rocks stacked atop each other. They were like mini-pyramids, ranging in size from 6 inches to 5 feet tall. I presumed that they're related to the fact that over half of Icelanders believe in magical elf-like spirits that dwell in the hills.