Finally on the ring road! Life will be so much easier from now on! There are plenty of people on Iceland’s only highway just waiting to pick us up! Well, not exactly. It’s true that there are more cars than in the remote areas but there are also more hitchhikers. Plus, people think if they don’t stop for us, the next car surely will. That’s why our motivation was slowly blown away with every car speeding by.
After what felt like ages, a red pick-up truck slowed down and stopped a few meters ahead of us. The driver was a nice old guy who did relocations for private clients and he could take us closer to our destination. We hopped on. Our way on the lonely street took us up into the highlands, through fog and rain. More often than other cars did we see sheep on the side of the road. After a few hours, we drove through a little town, which seemed to be our entrance back into civilization. At a petrol station close to an intersection, we got off the truck.
First thing was to get food. Besides the usual plate of fries, I got a deluxe sandwich with salmon, which was heaven for my taste buds. From our seats we already checked out the surroundings for a suitable place to stop our next ride to our final destination for the day – Akureyri. We ended up standing on a road looking at a beautiful green meadow dotted with white hay balls against a shining blue sky. It was almost too much to stand after spending so much time in the dark highlands.
Too soon, we managed to catch a ride with a young guy in a brand new Audi who had been driving all the way from his work place in Reykjavík and was going to attend a class reunion in his home town that evening. He was the first person that picked us up who was our age and it turned out to be a fun trip. He told us about the fishing festival that was going on in another town up there at the moment and gave us some more tips on what to do and see. He dropped us off at the tourist information and there we were.
Our desire to spend a night in a warm hostel bed was bigger than ever, so we called around to see who had beds available. It turned out that every guesthouse and hostel was fully booked due to the fishing festival, so the local campsite had to do once again. On the way there, I noticed I had forgotten my jacket in the Audi and loudly cursed myself. Iceland is probably the stupidest country to lose your jacket in.
We spent the night walking around town. There is not much to do in Akureyri besides seeing the church Akureyrarkirkja, the countless art galleries and hopping from bar to bar. After having dinner at a hostel bar, we played cards, had some beers and did some research on car rental companies. We figured it was time for a car because it would be easier and faster to get to all the places we wanted to see. And we promised to take every hitchhiker we would pass.
The next morning we went to the Europcar office and welcomed our new travel partner, a small white Toyota with seat heating and every other comfort you could think of. With high spirits and a new lease on life, we left the biggest city in the north and drove towards the second part of our Nordic adventure.