You would think you will have all the time in the world when you have holidays. Especially when you have 2 whole months off. But the opposite is true. I couldn’t seem to find a minute to sit down and write about my adventures in Canada. So here I am back in Europe with heaps of time to kill.
It all started with my bucket list and the desire to travel to all the countries on my list. Canada was on my list for ages, but it isn’t really a place to visit for a weekend. You need time, a lot of it. Especially when you want to experience more than just seeing cities and some tourist traps.
The best and most fun way to travel in Canada is making a roadtrip. Luckily I wasn’t the only one with this idea. My boyfriend and a few friends were joining. We rented a car and hit the roads.
The first trip was to Vancouver island. Famous for its wild life and for surfing. Oh yeah! Of course we tried it out. We surfed in Tofino, the best surfspot of Canada. It is really a surfers village. Almost every car had some boards on the roof. There was definitely a chill vibe everywhere. The beaches are amazing, long and foggy with a forest as a backdrop. The water was full with surfers. Definitely a place to go back to.
One day we went on a tour to see the ocean wildlife of Vancouver Island. There were sea otters, seals, whales and lots of birds. It is so amazing to see all these creatures in there natural habitat, especially whales. The enthusiasm of everyone in the boat is amazing. Like little kids that see some magic trick, every time a whale makes a puff. All fingers and camera’s pointed in the same direction. An enthusiastic symphony of ooohs and aaahs rises. These enourmous animals are like magic. Always amazing to watch.
We had some amazing nights on the island. It was so dark that all the stars were visible. I don’t think I saw so many in my life. The whole sky was filled with little shimmers. Now and then they were falling like tiny flashes. Of course I made some wishes that night. We spent hours trying to make the ‘perfect’ shot. But somehow it is hard to show what you really see. It is one of those moments, that you just need to be there to experience it.
First I have to say; Sorry mom & dad. I travelled around as a hitch hiker. Something I never imagined doing. Because, you know, it is crazy dangerous. All the creepy people on the road. But hey we are in Iceland, the safest country in the world. Where parents leave there baby outside in a stroller when they are going inside for a coffee. Nothing happens here. The most dangerous things on the road are the sheep that are sometimes stupid enough to cross while you are driving the road. Luckily honking the horn scares them easily away. So there I was putting my thumb up to get a ride to Reykjavik. I was at the most touristy spot in Iceland, the glacier lagoon, so I hoped to get a ride easily. Within 10 minutes a giant truck stopped in front of me. I couldn’t even see the driver, I needed to climb a ladder to even see who stopped for me. The old truck driver nodded yes and said: Ha! on my question if he was going to Reykjavik. I guessed he said yes. So I took a seat and within seconds I noticed he wasn’t much of a talker. At least not in English. Not even a word. Ok, I thought, this will be an interesting ride. I took out my phone and looked up how to ask a name in Icelandic. Technology is sometimes a must to make conversation. ‘hvað heitir þú’ I asked in my best Icelandic. You have to know every word sounds different than you would think. But he understood me after repeating it 3 times. So his name was Stein-something, probably with ‘son’ in the end and he was transporting fish and didn’t lived in Reykjavik. Yep, that was all I found out. So a 5 hour trip is very very long if you don’t speak each other language. Luckily he was on the phone a lot. And the ride was so smooth in the giant truck that I fell asleep every now and then. The truck driver stopped at a tank station to ask a local to tell me where he would stop. Just to make sure I knew where I was going. So sweet. I really have to say, Icelandic folk are great & super helpful.
I saved a lot of money hitch hiking. A bus trip can easily cost €80,-. Having a budget is really a challenge in Iceland. Everything is so expensive. A beer without happy hour cost easily 1200 Icelandic kronur, around €10,-. If you like to drink and eat healthy food you need to have money. Somehow the vegan lifestyle is getting more and more popular here. Something I didn’t expect. I mean Iceland is famous for the meat consumption and the American food. You can buy burgers everywhere. And whale and puffin meat is not an exception. But everywhere in the super markets and restaurants there are vegan options, a lot of them. So easy eating vegan in Iceland!
So many things happened I totally lost count of the days. I think it is a good thing to get lost. You get into the travelers mode. No clue what day today is, losing sense of time and everything looks less important. Take it day by day and just enjoy every second of it.Two years ago I took a day tour surfing the Icelandic ocean with a company called Arctic Surfers. The owner, named Ingo Olsen, is the most friendly and generous person you can imagine. We kept in touch by Instragram and I really hoped we meet up again on this trip. And we did! Because I love surf photography I asked him if I can join on one of his trips. I was lucky enough that he had a booking for a big group doing a sup tour. It was amazing to help out with the tour. Running and biking around in a wetsuit to shoot pictures. I loved being part of the whole day. The next day he asked me to join on a tour to the Glacier Lagoon. Well that wasn’t a hard decision to make. I think it is one of the most magical spots in Iceland. I mean supping on a glacier lagoon while taking photos, that is a dreamy scenario for a nature + photography lover, right?! It is almost indescribable what you experience when you are on the water. A sort of calmness takes over. The only sounds you hear is your paddle in the water and the seals that are curious enough to join you. Now and then you hear a big crack when a piece of ice is breaking off. It feels like an unexpected thunderstorm on a clear and sunny day. The lagoon looks so peaceful but at the same time it can be extremely dangerous. You are totally save on land, taking selfies and hiking around. But on the water it is a different story. You probably know that an iceberg only shows 10 percent of his greatness above water. The other 90 percent is hidden underneath. Imagine what happens if one tips over. It can be catastrophic when you are to close. So there I was surrounded by icebergs in calm waters. Seals popped up everywhere and followed us along our way. I was sitting on my board with my camera out when suddenly a piece of iceberg fell. Close….very close. A small wave came towards me, totally fine. But then the iceberg started to move……paddle!!! My heartbeat went from easy going to absolutely crazy. Luckily icebergs move quite slowly, but imagine the amount of ice coming your way. That is scary! You have to get out of there! The water is only 2 degrees and I can assure you, you don’t wanna fall in. A good guide is at this point so important. Thank goodness I had one. My camera got floated, cause I didn’t have the time to store it in a waterproof bag. But it is still working luckily. Got some amazing shots you definitely can’t make while staying on land. That day I spended on and around the lagoon. I’m sure I can spend weeks there, so stunningly beautiful.
The best moments are the ones you absolutely forget to take pictures of. Yesterday I was playing beach volley in bikini in Iceland, outside at 12 degrees. I know, sounds crazy right? Iceland is the land of mysteries. Not only the landscape changes every minute, also the weather. You never now if you need winter gear in summer or a bathing suit in winter. It is super unpredictable and can change within a blink of an eye. I feel grateful for the weather that has been wonderful so far. The warmth of the sun makes me feeling blessed. I don’t mind the cold, I don’t even notice it. Some tourists are packed with thick sweaters, winter coats and hoodies. And I walk the streets in a jumper and bare feet in my sneakers. It feels great!
I just love the fact unexpected things happen in Iceland. You just never know what the day brings. This morning I was invited to start the day as a local. I joined a friend to one of the local pools. A common thing to do as an Icelander. First a hot bath, then cooling down just before you go into a steam room. It is hot in there, sweating while you don’t do anything kind of hot. Getting rid of all the toxics, sweat it all out. An amazing way to start the day. You feel absolutely relaxed afterwards.
Then it is time for some delicious coffee with a cinnamon bun. The best ones you can find at Braud & Co. There are many people who are waiting in line. But as soon as you take a bite of this warm deliciousness, you know why. Best I ever had! And for a great coffee, go to Reykjavik Roasters. You can enjoy your coffee outside on a little square where the sun always seems to shine.
I’m in the train on my way to the airport. Just half an hour ago the content of my bag was spread out over my bed. I always wait until the very last second to pack my bag. Now you might think I’m totally unprepared and just throw something in my bag. But the opposite is true. Months of making lists and notes has past by. I started a long time ago to think about what I needed and wanted to bring. But the journey wasn’t sure yet, so packing ahead seemed impossible. And then you have me, the undecisive one. I just can’t choose. Like never. What to wear, where to go, what to eat….. I can make my life very difficult if I want to. I just like to be prepared for everything. And yes, I figured out that’s an impossible task to ask from yourself. So I’m gonna try not to stress about it. Let it go. Like my neighbor said just before I left. You can buy everywhere a pair of underwear.
With a backpack on my back, I move among the countless number of tourists. Why do I always think I’m the only one traveling? The full plane to Reykjavik confirms the opposite. Screaming babies and frustrated parents are taking over the plane. I put on my headphone, press play and zoom out. ‘Classic & Dreamy’, no better playlist to overactive minds. Staring into the distance, my eyes wander into the clouds. I’m watching the sunset, beautiful color tones are painting the sky. Suddenly I realized I’m watching the same sunset for over an hour. The sun doesn’t set. I’m flying back in time in the same speed of the time zones. It is like time stands still. Incredibly peaceful. Pink and magical. Imagine you fly round and round the world back in time. You would be able to see an eternal sunset. I would never get bored of that dreamy picture.