Iceland Day 1

8:35 am

Touch down in Reykjavik! It’s sunny outside, with a cool, crisp breeze.

9:30 am

We headed over to Happy Campers to pick up our camper van for the trip, and were treated to some much needed coffee and biscuits.

10:20 am

Spent ten minutes in the parking lot staring at the pedals in the driver’s seat trying to f*cking remember how to drive manual. Finally got the courage and smashed it out of the park. Then, was easily defeated once more when we got to the open road. Let’s just say, it’s kind of like riding a bike, but kind of not like riding a bike.

More to come on this…

10:30 am

On the road to Reykjavik to check into our Airbnb.

11:00 am

First thing’s first, we needed breakfast and coffee, bad. We headed over to The CooCoo’s Nest which is literally the most Icelandic/Nordic-looking breakfast joint ever. I got the eggs florentine and very single bite was amazing! The we realized there was a grocery store we could walk to, because god knows I was not driving that van unless I absolutely needed to.

12:00 pm

The van got fully stocked on groceries and ready for some adventures tomorrow. We bought a lot of simple things like noodle cups and instant oatmeal. Then we walked to old town Reykjavik to get a little shopping done since it was the only time we’d be in the city.

2:00 pm


3:00 pm

We arrived at our Airbnb, ready to check in. We actually realized that we ended up leaving the car only a block or so away from where we were staying. Close enough so I didn’t need to drive anywhere (huzzah) and we could just carry our luggage to our apartment.

3:15 pm

Changed my mind and decided to tackle this driving thing since there were a ton of parking spots open near our apartment and I wouldn’t have to drive that far. Oh boy did this turn into an adventure. But I learned a very important thing today: how to reverse. That’s right. I could not for the life of me figure out how to put the stick shift in reverse to get out of my parking spot! I just knew I had to be missing something…

After about 15 attempts to set the stick shift over as far as it could go, thus denoting ‘reverse’, we gave up and just started asking people to help us. We literally went into a Dominos to ask the people working there. Finally, a nice older gentlemen helped us. Apparently, in order to put this specific stick shift in reverse, you first have to pull up on the stick shift. I don’t know if this is some European thing (the guy we talked to was European and he figured it out in like two seconds) or what. But I had never heard of this before.

So there’s that.

4:00 pm

We arrive at our Airbnb and I try to parallel park in the tightest of spots. Realizing I couldn’t do it, I reverse out and almost slide forward into an Audi. OHHH lawd. It was definitely a heart-pounding day. I am trying to tell myself that this all builds character, but I feel I’ve become ten years older on this trip from all the stress.

5:00 pm

SHOWER. The almighty post-plane, post walking around all day, shower.

6:45 pm

A protein bar later and I am in bed waiting for the next 15 minutes until I can finally fall asleep (I told myself I’d make it to 7pm).

xoxo Emily


  1. Oh my, noodle cups and instant food are the best when it comes to a road adventure! (ღ˘⌣˘ღ)
    Hmm, about the reverse stick, i think it’s specific to the car model I guess? My family has a 3 cars and only one of them works that way!

    1. Haha yes! I guess that makes sense! Wish I would have known. It was quite embarrassing having to ask someone. But I’m sure I’ll look back and laugh someday (kind of already am).

  2. I am loving this daily diary! We are planning a trip to Reykjavik next year (because Iceland Air inexplicably chose Kansas City as a US hub and we can fly direct) so I am taking down any and all recommendations you have!

  3. Wow, this sounds like it was a great first day in Iceland! I love that you got a camper van! Though I could never drive a manual…I’ve tried and failed dramatically. 🙂 Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!

    1. Thanks Valerie! It’s been a good 10 or more years since I drove it haha, so there was definitely a learning curve again. But if you can drive it, it can save you a ton of money when renting a car since most people want automatic.

  4. LOL at the manual troubles! I met up with a friend in Croatia who rented a manual car and let’s just say it isn’t like riding a bike. There was a lot of confusion but mostly because the gears wouldn’t change, or something like that. I only learned to drive automatic and have zero intention of learning otherwise. I’ll take those inflated rental costs for auto cars in Europe any day.

    Seemingly a car versus your camper PALES in comparison. My friend is pretty fearless but even that isn’t something she’d conquer.***


    1. Haha that’s what I was telling myself: “you’re fearless, Emily!” It was definitely stressful, but once I got the hang of it after like two full days, it just got easier and easier. I actually think it was such a neat accomplishment. Makes for great stories!

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