Venessa has captured some of the most photojournalistic images with nearly every step, my microspikes slipped off the soles of my chukka boots. I couldn’t have picked worse footwear for hiking a snow-covered mountain. To be fair, I didn’t plan for much on this Iceland vacation, never mind hiking, so I’d packed light for my five days in Reykjavík. Enveloped in fog, I could only see one step in front of me the entire way up the steam-belching mountain — barely enough to follow in the footsteps of the few others also braving these poor conditions. I was heading to Reykjadalur Valley to bathe in the Thermal River, and with my current sleeping conditions, I sure as hell needed it. So here I was, ill-prepared, uncomfortable, and alone. What the hell was I thinking?

Iceland is a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with a population of around 360,000. Though the entire country has the population of a small American city, it accommodates hundreds of thousands of tourists at any given time, making places like Reykjavík feel urban and cultured. But if I was going to explore Iceland, I was going to need a vehicle — a four-wheel-drive one at that. The roads can be challenging, and the weather is notoriously fickle. I reached out to our friends at Ice Rovers in Reykjavík and they happened to have a Snow White Rover available for me to carry my aimless ass around the ice-covered island.

The romance of sleeping on a 100-year-old sailing ship in the frigid Reykjavík harbor sounds like a decent-enough idea. It wasn’t. It was awful: cramped, smelly, and a bit cruddy-feeling. I’m a New Englander through and through, so communal spaces make me uncomfortable. I need my privacy. This is most apparent when I’m forced to share a bathroom with a bunch of other humans I don’t know. And on one fateful morning, those humans ran a train in the bathroom situated next to my cabin, and the smell woke me from a deep, drunken sleep — the perfect complement to my throbbing cranium. I don’t suggest it.

People find waiting more tolerable when they can see the work being done on their behalf

Possibly the best pizza I’ve ever had. I ate dinner here two out of my five nights in Iceland. Then, when I got home, I went and bought all of the ingredients to attempt to recreate the pizza for my friends. It wasn’t nearly as good, but it was still a hit. Go here, get the Umberto, and thank me later.

Peak-end rule

The Rover was my ticket and curiosity was my guide. This was a personal trip with no specific objective, so my agenda was as follows: food, museums (minus a particular one dedicated to dicks), a DC-9 plane wreck, soak in as many hot springs as possible, and maybe hit a waterfall or two. The Rover did exactly what it’s supposed to do; it lorded over city traffic, conquered the snow-covered roads of the countryside, stalled and flickered its dash lights occasionally, and gave me an all-around good old time with that ever-present Land Rover “is it going to strand me out here?” sensation that is so characteristic of these rigs.

  • People find waiting more tolerable when they can see the work being done on their behalf
  • The peak-end rule is a cognitive bias
  • The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance

Here are a few destinations worth checking out — or avoiding — if you happen to find yourself with a few days and a dirt-cheap ticket and decide to make your way to the land of fire and ice. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

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