“You should go to Húsavík,” my impromptu host in Akureyri told me. “I went whale watching there.” Clara handed over some brochures she had kept. Alright, why not? We got up early to go to Akureyri’s geothermal baths and then I rushed to the bus station. Luckily, I realized I was at the wrong station just in time—and the right one was just across the street. I settled into the minibus between my neighbors and we sped off into the morning.
Riding a bus in Iceland is never boring. The landscape is enormous and beautiful and the weather overhead is rapidly shifting. The bus pulled over and we squeezed in even tighter to let on a father and son. Even though the bus was already full, we weren’t going to make them wait hours for the next. Hugging ourselves inward, we smiled at each other and settled back as best as we could in the tight space.
It was still early when the bus dropped us off in Húsavík. It wasn’t too difficult to find my way around in the town numbering just over 2,000. Yellow flags flapped in the wind declaring, whale watching! I went and bought a ticket and dinked around by myself until the ship would depart. A line of mist hung over the harbor and it was hard not to stare. I began to pile on more layers. Clara had bequeathed me a chunky and overly large red sweater that she had found in her apartment when she moved in. Heeding her warnings about the cold on the sea, I tugged it on over my T-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, and scarf, and then awkwardly fasted my jacket on top of the bulk.
Joining the group on the ship, I realized I was probably the only one by myself. There were families, there were couples, there were friends, and there was me. I didn’t care. I ran across the boat along with everyone else, side-to-side, glimpsing dolphins, minke whales, and my beloved puffins. After awhile, the boat began to make its way back to harbor and we were served hot chocolate. By that time, I was shivering horridly, despite my puffy layers. Eventually I had to succumb and put on the ship overalls. I willed the boat to get off the cold sea more quickly now that we’d seen the sights.
Immediately after disembarking I went hunting for food because I needed to warm up. I found a place selling French fries out of a window. Those are warm. And indeed, I was able to gradually strip off some of my layers. After finishing my meal, I began to wander around town, my backpack in tow. I stopped in a bakery and bought a kleina, a pastry consisting of fried dough. So, yum.
When traveling, I seem to vacillate from one end of the socialization scale to the other, in ways that may put others on edge. I had gone from staying with three different strangers in a row, all in tight quarters (including a wet tent), to wandering around by myself. I don’t mind; I like both.
I walked through the back streets up to the main road along the harbor. I stood outside of the Phallus Museum (I kid you not. It has since moved to Reykjavík.), looking at the stone and wood statues alluding to obvious things in lieu of paying for a ticket to actually get inside. I stopped by the tourist information center to dash off a few quick emails (“I’m in Húsavík; I hadn’t planned to be here but I am; it’s nice; back to Reykjavík in the evening to catch my flight out”). I wandered up a hill and explored the graveyard overlooking town and the sea.
It was time to catch my bus. This one was a tad more roomy. I exercised my vocal cords again by chatting with the man next to me who wondered what I had been up to. Wandering and whale watching. Yes, alone. Yes, it was fun.
I contemplated the scenery out of the window, which is what I had been doing all day really, sans pane. I like to contemplate. It can be easier when you’re alone. Meet people: learn. Step back: absorb. My time in Iceland was about to end. I let it all filter through me in silence.
Tagged: akureyri, alone, contemplation, Húsavík, iceland, travel, walking, wandering, whale watching
What an amazing scenery! Makes me want to visit :) not so much for the whales, sounds scary!
Iceland is incredible. And aw, the whales aren’t scary at all! None of them got too close to the ship. The worst threat by far is the cold. :)
Great. Please upload pictures of dolphins and whales if you captured any. :)
Thanks. I have some dolphin and whale photos but none of them are good enough to publish, sorry!
Okay .. :)
These pictures are the most gorgeous views ever. Iceland, added to the bucket list!
Iceland belongs on the bucket list for sure. :)
Sounds like an fantastic place. I will def try to go to Húsavík one day :) I have been to Iceland but never to Húsavík. I would love to go back though, so then I will try to visit there as well. Seems so wonderful!
It was really pleasant! I’m sure you’d like it, Hanne. I’d love to go back to Iceland. There are many places that I did not see as well. For such a small country, there is a tremendous amount to do and see!
да, да.) это лучше в реальности!
It’s funny…I was just thinking to myself, “Húsavík looks familiar”, when I realized, I’ve been there, and have an almost identical picture to yours with the boats and mountains beyond :) I’ve been looking for travel blogs that are more story-like, that I can have a deeper connection to, not just from which I can glean practical tips. So THANK YOU for doing that! Also, like you, I saw the statues outside the Phallological Museum in Húsavík my first time in Iceland. I recently returned, and went to it in Reykjavik. If you go back, be prepared for a lot of whale penises. And make sure to check out the hilarious posters!
Ha! I hope to return to Iceland in not too long now that I live in a city from which Icelandair flies, so I’ll perhaps follow in your footsteps and actually get into the Phallological Museum. :) So glad you like the blog!
I love love love your writing style, and your photos are stunning! What camera do you use?
Thank you so much! Most of my photos posted were taken on a Canon Rebel T3 that I got in 2011, though there are probably a few scattered around here that I took on my iPhone. Before 2011, I had a generic (not very good…) point-and-shoot so posts about older travels use photos from that, like the ones in this post. Even so, for these I only did very mild post-processing; Iceland is just that gorgeous!
I feel a little inspired by your post. Someday I will have the courage and strength to go traveling alone. This was a nice story.
Aw, thanks! And I’m sure you will – taking the first leap is the hardest part, but from then on your confidence will rapidly grow.
Thanks for the encouragement. Happy travels!
Reblogged this on Seputar Dunia Pendidikan.
So … beautiful !
Just reading makes me want to grab a few things ang get back on the road! Nice post :)
Hey Leah, thanks for posting this. I’m wondering when you went to Iceland? I traveled there myself in June on a solo trip and it was the most incredible experience of my life. It was hard to put into words, but you have captured the feeling of transitioning from social interaction to blissful isolation in a way that I couldn’t. It was a joy reading this.
My question is, do you do lots of solo traveling, or was this a one-off experience? I just started into it, and can see myself doing more trips. Any suggestions on where you’ve been as a solo traveler would be appreciated!
I went to Iceland back in the summer of 2010. Iceland is incredible, and good for solo travel, I think. I am glad you also had a wonderful experience.
I do a fair amount of solo travel. I’ve done it in a bunch of places – central Europe, the Baltics, a bit in South America, and a few other spurts here and there. I honestly think one can travel solo anywhere but if you’re easing into it, choosing a place that is a little more similar to where you’re from culturally might be helpful as you get your confidence and, well, gregariousness up!
Seems phantastic! Tempting! ;-)
What a scenery… :)