From leaving to having left

From leaving to having left

Hafnarfjörður!
What? Hafnarfjörður … that’s Icelandic for “harbor fjord” and Iceland’s third largest city with 27,000 inhabitants! From behind my laptop I have a view over this metropolis, and behind it I see the looming black gray mountains of the interior, still covered with snow.

But first we go back in time.
We’re writing the year 2016, May 27th.
It’s two days before departure and I sit next to ‘my’ Joost on the couch. That afternoon I already sat sobbing with mom and said goodbye to my father.
With Joost I feel sensitive and safe. Suddenly I’m overwhelmed and I have to say it.
I’M SCARED! Leaving, the leap of faith into the unknown, the ‘uncertainty’…
What if this is not IT?
I decided, no, I’ve felt that life in the Netherlands cannot offer me what I want from life.
I want a greater happiness than I have found there to date.
And besides that, it has been in the newspapers, the big brand Santos believes in me and made me put my buttocks on an awesome bike and last week there even was a seven man strong filmcrew from the Czech Republic visiting my home to capture me as a ‘hero’ for the Tour de France campaign of Skoda! … (really!)

What if this isn’t IT? What if I don’t ‘make sense’ again once I’m riding?
What if the rain, the cold, camping, suffering, being alone, demands more of me than I can muster?
What then?…

 

Ready?

Ready?

After I make the final preparations on May 28 (and there were quite a lot still), with the 29th came the day of departure. At Schiphol airport I kissed my mother, brother and best friend goodbye. The tears flew gently. It feels so weird. I find that I just cannot oversee what I’ve started. Apart from these two areas on the map, Iceland and Alaska, there’s no fixed plan…

Uitgezwaaid op Schiphol. Vlnr. beste vriendin Madeleine, ik, broer Remo en mama Mia

Goodbye at the Airport. My best friend, me, my brother Remo and my mother Mia

Just before landing I see a small part of Iceland from the airplane window and I can feel a few butterflies waking up in my belly. I see a black line meandering through the landscape and immediately I imagine what it would be like to cycle there.

Mijn eerste blik op IJsland

My first view of Iceland

After an eventful trip (bus, dropped, bicycle unpacking in rain, hauling the bike AND box, help from friendly Icelander who ties box to roof of car) towards the campsite, I put my tent (while starving) and find refuge in the warm hostel that’s allied with the campsite. I strap on my backpack and on the way to the supermarket I recognize it immediately …: myself. That was me, indeed; exploring on my own! And I It’s actually not that different from the first time a kid goes to the supermarket all alone. Paying close attention to the route and traffic, to wonder at the supermarket which is which and to look wide-eyed at the cashier as she mentions the amount.

EXPLORING, that’s what I love about travel!
That one’s ‘in the pocket’..

Oke Hera, hoe had je nu precies gedacht dit te vervoeren?

Okay Hera, so how did you actually think to manage this…?

Mijn huis

My home

 

Today I went in Reykjavik. But regardless of the enormous effort that it took me to get there without cycling on the busy main road, there is little to tell. It is a large village with 2.5 blocks of ‘old town’.

Blik over Reykjavik en omgeving vanaf een uitkijktoren. (toiletbezoek aldaar €1,50. Jaa daadhaag)

View over Reykjavik from a lookoutpoint (toiletvisit €1,50. Noo waaaaayyyy!)

What IS worth mentioning…

IT’S BRIGHT LIGHT ALL NIGHT!!!!

but really…

IT’S BRIGHT LIGHT ALL NIGHT!!!

You might “know” it before you come here, but when last night at 23:00 it was still as light as in the morning it began to really dawn on me. It doesn’t get dark!
How unreal. There I was at 2:30 in the night peeing in bright ‘day’light behind my tent.
Despite the light, I slept wonderfully.. wearing my sleep mask! (And I only woke up when it was light outside … :))

The roads through the interior of the country are still closed, as was expected.
After having looked at the wind forecast, I’ve decided to head north. More precisely, to the west fjords, the oldest part of Iceland. An Icelandic woman told me it’s a beautiful and rugged part of Iceland that tourists often ‘forget’, whereas it is very worthwhile. She promised me the worst roads and the best views. I signed up for that.

TOMORROW I’M GETTING ON THE BIKE! I look forward to the great outdoors, to see the Iceland I’ve seen on photographs. That’s what I’m hoping for, that’s what I’m going for!

 

Onderweg naar de camping

Onderweg naar de camping

IT’S STARTED! It took a lot of preparation and perseverance and support and encouragement from a lot of people around me.

THANK YOU to everyone who was at the beautiful farewell picnic.
THANK YOU to everyone who has sent me an goodluck-e-mail.
And THANK YOU to everyone who sent me a card this last week to encourage me.

No matter which way the wind is blowing here in Iceland, thanks to you I already started with tailwinds!