STUCK: 7 Days Hitch-Hiking Through The Icelandic Wilderness (Day 1)

I recently finished a weeklong trip to Iceland, where I was pretty much incommunicado with the rest of the world. While you can find wifi here and there, Iceland is one of the last great untouched frontiers. I arrived in Reykjavik with the naïve belief that in a week I could hitch my way around the entire island. Oh, how wrong I was. What follows is my account of hastily made acquaintances, unplanned detours, and yes, getting stuck.

Day 1: Keflavik to Reykjavik

I stepped off my flight from Bristol and thought that if I was going to start hitching rides in Iceland, I might as well start from the airport. After walking a few km to the main road, I thumbed a ride from a seamstress named whose name I couldn’t pronounce (this was the first of many occurrences).

Knowing that I would spend most of the next week outside in the cold and sleeping in a tent, I splurged for one night at stylish Hlemmur Square Hostel.

With the entire day to kill I decided to hike the imposing Esja, the mountain that looms over Reykjavik across the bay. I was joined by two Swedish women in Reykjavik for a conference, and together we hiked up to the summit of Esja. It was pretty steep going near the end—not so much a hike as a climb.

The view from the top of Esja was extraordinary; I didn’t know it but this was the nicest day of my entire trip to Iceland! After returning to the city I cooked dinner in my hostel and shared some wine with a group of Americans and Aussies who all happened to have recently quit their jobs. They had all taken popular tours to the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon, which can cost into the hundreds of dollars. None of them considered hitching—a shame, but that’s just me.

Asta Guthny, my first ride in Iceland!

Southern rim of Esja

Icelandic gobbledegook

Final ascent, Esja

Hands and knees status

Reykjavik and beyond

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10 thoughts on “STUCK: 7 Days Hitch-Hiking Through The Icelandic Wilderness (Day 1)

      1. When I started traveling ~14 months ago I didn’t have the guts to try hitch-hiking, especially in a place as desolate as Iceland. It’s been a gradual process, starting with this incident in a small town in France. Slowly but surely my comfort zone has expanded.

        Have you ever hitch-hiked before?

      2. I can’t say that I have. It’s not something I don’t think I would ever consider without someone with me, at least at first. I’m thrilled you’ve had a good experience with it, and been able to take such beautiful pictures!

      3. That was always my thought. I should have taken the leap when I studied abroad a few years ago. I was in Ireland of all places, it probably would have been the safest place to start! I want to go back to Europe soon (I didn’t get to go to too many places) so maybe I’ll try to save a ton of money by doing it that way!

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