> Backpacking for three months in Iceland, from June to September, to loop Route 1. That was the original idea. Reading about all those people who had lived grand adventures by walking around the world awakened a forgotten thrill. The thrill of exploring. I also wished to relieve the burden of living in a hard-hearted society, to immerse myself into the world, to drift on foreign lands, to sense a deep connection with the earth, to enjoy the little things every day. Feel their same freedom.
Unfortunately, my checking account didn’t agree. With only just over two thousand euro to my name, a journey that usually costs around half that sum per month wasn’t really feasible. In Iceland, above all. I could have cut its duration to two or even one month, but in doing so I would have precluded from the outset the possibility of giving closure.

At that time, I felt I needed to complete that ring road before anything else. Hence, the comfort demon forced me to think about renting a small car and staying at guesthouses, for a week. Again, too expensive. And it would have been a holiday, not a journey… something that would have completely vanquished the inherent meaning of exploring.

Luckily, during my daily ration of random internet surfing, I stumbled upon an intriguing quote by none the less than Ernest Hemingway:

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them… Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”

I had a mountain bike, good. It was quite old but hardly used, good. If I had cycled a reasonable amount of seventy kilometres per day, I would have travelled as far as one thousand kilometres in two weeks… and two weeks of food and camping would certainly not have cost a king’s ransom. The brakes still worked, good. The front-shift lever didn’t, damn it. Just a small hindrance.

While I was studying how bicycles work and how to fix them, I considered other places whose outlines I’d have liked to remember. Scotland and its Hebrides, Norway and its Svalbard. There’s at least one fil rouge that ties these countries: they all have a cold climate. I’ve always preferred the cold to the heat, as I’ve always favoured the rain to the sun. Maybe because rain is potential snow, and I love the snow. Maybe because rain carries within itself a sense of honesty that the sun doesn’t have. Whereas someone’s ideal life is living in a house by the sea and basking in the sun with a tropical cocktail in their hand, mine is living in a cabin in the woods and watching the rain with a cup of hot tea on the windowsill. Or the snow.

Anyway, I digress.

Shortly after my thoughts had wandered off to those lands, Iceland pulled them back in its direction. My first choice began to pop up everywhere, as if the universe had wanted to convince me that it was the right one indeed… and I let it do. Therefore, I re-searched everything I could about this remote island of ice and fire. This time, I noticed something that had eluded me before, since very few talk about it: Vestfirðir.

This is the north-western region, a corner mostly forgotten by tourists due to its distance from the main attractions. But as the most ancient part of Iceland, the place should be a lure in itself. At least, for me it is. Verdant slopes, dramatic cliffs, tranquil shores, harsh paths, surreal landscapes; spaces crystallized in time. A primal charm… pure, unfiltered beauty. That’s what shined through the photos I saw. All the background noise of everyday life vanished, and I felt weightless; a peculiar sensation that truly moved me.

Thus, I decided to ride my bike on the ring road n. two, the one that runs along the edge of the Westfjords. And now completing the loop wouldn’t have been a priority anymore, since I would have found pleasure in the voyage itself. Not only in its highs, but even in its lows… I’m talking about you, wind.

This is my ideal schedule, but I’ve got a couple of backup plans too:

Day One

Milano Linate > London Heathrow
British Airways
I’ll find a terminal where travellers are allowed to spend the night.

Day Two

London Heathrow > Reykjavík Keflavík
British Airways
I’ll have to declare the excess food to the Icelandic authorities and pay proper duties.

Reykjavík Keflavík > Mjódd Bus Station
Strætó Bus #55 + #21 or Airport Express Bus
If I can’t bring my bike box on those public buses, I will fall back on a private bus.

Mjódd Bus Station > Staðarskáli Bus Station
Strætó Bus #57
Bicycles are allowed on that public bus.

Staðarskáli Bus Station > Borðeyri
Bike distance: 8,3 km
Accommodation: Borðeyri Camping.
Places of interest: surroundings.

Day Three

Borðeyri > Hólmavík
Bike distance: 104 km
Accommodation: Hólmavík Camping.
Places of interest: Sheep Farming Museum, Sorcery & Witchcraft Museum.

Day Four

Hólmavík > Wilderness
Bike distance: around 80 km
Accommodation: Wild Camping.
I’ll find a patch of uncultivated land, doing nothing that could harm the delicate environment.
Places of interest: surroundings.

Day Five

Wilderness > Flókalundur
Bike distance: around 80 km
Accommodation: Flókalundur Camping.
Places of interest: Hellulaug Hot Pool.

Day Six

Flókalundur > Rauðisandur Beach + Melanes
Bike distance: 84 km
Accommodation: Melanes Camping.
Places of interest: Sundlaug Pool, Birkimelur Hot Pool, Garðar BA-64 Wreck.

Day Seven

Melanes > Látrabjarg Cliffs + Breiðavík
Bike distance: 66,8 km
Accommodation: Breiðavík Camping.
Places of interest: Hnjótur Plane Museum.

Day Eight

Breiðavík > Bíldudalur
Bike distance: 75,3 km
Accommodation: Bíldudalur Camping.
Places of interest: Sea Monsters Museum.

Day Nine

Bíldudalur > Þingeyri
Bike distance: 97,7 km
Accommodation: Þingeyri Camping.
Places of interest: Reykjafjardarlaug Hot Pool, Dynjandi Waterfall, Hrafnseyri Museum, Simbahöllin.

Day Ten

Þingeyri > Ísafjörður
Westfjords Adventures Bus
I have to take it, since I’d like to skip the tunnel between Önundarfjörður and Skutulsfjörður.

Ísafjörður > Wilderness
Bike distance: around 66 km
Accommodation: Wild Camping.
I’ll find another patch of uncultivated land, leaving no trace of my passage.
Places of interest: Westfjords Heritage Museum, Arctic Fox Centre.

Day Eleven

Wilderness > Heydalur
Bike distance: around 66 km
Accommodation: Heydalur Camping.
Places of interest: Seals Lookout, Litlibær Café.

Day Twelve

Heydalur > Hólmavík
Bike distance: 109 km
Accommodation: Hólmavík Camping.
Places of interest: surroundings.

Day Thirteen

Hólmavík > Borðeyri
Bike distance: 104 km
Accommodation: Borðeyri Camping.
Places of interest: surroundings.

Day Fourteen

Borðeyri > Staðarskáli Bus Station
Bike distance: 8,3 km

Staðarskáli Bus Station > Mjódd Bus Station
Strætó Bus #57

Mjódd Bus Station > Reykjavík Camping
Bike distance: 5,4 km
Accommodation: Reykjavík Camping.
Places of interest: surroundings.

Day Fifteen

Reykjavík Camping > Mjódd Bus Station
Bike distance: 5,4 km

Mjódd Bus Station > Reykjavík Keflavík
Strætó Bus #55 + #21 or Airport Express Bus
If I can’t bring my bike box on those public buses, I will fall back on a private bus.

Reykjavík Keflavík > London Heathrow
British Airways
By then I will know where I’m allowed to spend the night.

Day Sixteen

London Heathrow > Milano Linate
British Airways
And I’m back home.

Predicted mileage: 960,2 km

I’m sincerely grateful to life to be able to experience this mesmerising journey.
One that’s going to test my perception of limits.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Nick

    Don’t watch Crocodile, the third episode of Black Mirror S4.

  2. Gloria Belotti

    anche Lorenzo amava la pioggia. Buon viaggio Niccolò

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