Iceland: The Driving

As I imagine it is for many tourists upon arriving in Iceland, our first stop was the car rental place. We were intending to rent some now-forgotten but small and gutless 2-wheel drive. Instead, we were magically and randomly upgraded to a Nissan Qashqai. We loved it so much that we decided to buy one ourselves someday, and probably would have last month if it had better fit Tiny Baby Alice’s big-girl car seat.

One of its best features, at least in Iceland, is that it’s a 4-wheel drive, and there are lots of roads—primarily in the interior, where the mountains and glaciers are—on which non-4x4s are strictly disallowed.

This is a regular road:

And this is a 4×4 road:

Don’t ask me what the difference is. Oh, except for this:

Our first, last, and ultimately abandoned river ford, due in part to this warning label prominently displayed on the passenger side dashboard:

Iceland_096

We drove on roads like this one:

And this one:

And this one (through a lava field in the south):

Some roads are paved and some roads are not, but almost all of those that we drove on were in really good condition. We went through a construction zone once, which consisted of a warning sign beforehand and a big backhoe and a few people doing something—and that was it. No cones, no sign holders, no temporary traffic lights (the UK’s chosen and super annoying method because I’m pretty sure they just put them up at the beginning of the project and let them run 24/7 until the end of the project, even whilst no work is actually being done). It was so refreshing: there’s some people working up ahead, use your common sense and don’t hit anything. Takk!

Also: Iceland drives on the right side of the road, like normal people (I mean, it’s right there in the description: THE RIGHT SIDE), and they use the metric system, like normal people should.

We had lots of good adventures in the Qashqai, including when we were the only people visiting Dettifoss (Europe’s largest waterfall) in the snow—some Germans staying at the same place we were tried to get there via the road on the other side of the canyon, only they never made it because their Suzuki (or something) got stuck in the snow and they had to be pulled out, so they just slunk back to town. Take that, Germans!

We took this next photo whilst enjoying the very welcome warm waters at Grettislaug, a legendary hot pot (more on which later)—it’s just a shame they put those big rocks marking the edge of the car park so far away, because that is a long way to go in nowt but a bathing suit (wet or dry) when the air temperature is barely above freezing and further bracing winds do insist on rolling in from the ocean a few yards away.

But the Qashqai had heated seats! And USB music listening! And the whole roof was glass, which was excellent for things like when it snowed or there were mountains or the northern lights to look at.

When you go to Iceland, you should probably rent a Qashqai.

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