40. Wow. How truly lucky I am to be able to say that I’ve been able to visit 40 countries in my (relatively) short time on this planet.
I really struggled with sitting this post because I don’t want to seem like I’m coming from a place of bragging, I just want to express my deepest sincerest gratitude to all of you who have contributed to this is some way or another.
If there’s anything that I’ve learned from all of these experiences, it’s that there is no better way to learn about who you are and what you value than by being forced to carry it all with you. In the pouring rain. Was that last Starbucks mug jammed in to the top of your bag worth it? (If you know how I feel about them you should know the answer to this).
I guess in my old age I’m getting wise (and sappy) but I am so greatful for all of these experiences. Being at the mercy of the universe (wifi, and bus/train schedules) really forces you to explore those deep dark corners of that thing in your head called your mind. And you learn a thing or two. (Maybe even 3 but that’s a stretch).
Back when I first started this blog, I saw travel (and in part this blog) as a peformative art. I needed to go here and there and do this and that for pictures and to show everyone at home what an amazing time I was having. Don’t get me wrong. I love posting me a good instagram. But, ive learned that that’s not travel. I have found, and firmly believe, that travel should be about you. I realize that I’m breaking this rule by writing this, but that is neither here not there. Travel isnt about where you’re going. It’s about the person you become along the way (oh and the people you meet too…). The most rewarding parts of travel are the dirty, nitty, gritty moments and those moments when you get to explore the deepest darkest corners of your brain. The ones you neglect to watch Netflix. The moments where you think you’re going to miss your train because there are loose animals on the 401. And you make it. It’s in those moments that you are reminded of what a tiny cog you are in the big wheel of the universe.
I’ll get off my soapbox now. But, before I do, to each and everyone of you who have made this possible know that I extend to you my deepest and utmost gratitude.
(Oh and here are some pictures from along the way cause apparently that’s what the people want)
In the spirit of getting back to square one with this blog, I realized that I never really introduced myself and how this blog came into existence and what I hope to give you through it.
My name is Aaron, and I’m 25ish years old and like the title, I am a world travelling Canadian. From Myrtle Beach to Myanmar, I’ve been to 23 countries and have a goal of visiting 30 countries before I turn 30 (a very realistic goal if I do say so myself). From my experiences I’d like to think I have a little bit of travel knowledge which I can share which is kind of why I started this blog.
Originally, this blog was a way of keeping in touch with my family back in Canada during my 3 month backpacking trip to Southeast Asia. But, after getting home I realized I kind of enjoyed this whole blogging thing and with the little bit of wisdom I had, I wanted to post more.
But, life got in the way of that! I have used this blog for various other trips that I’ve taken but have never really gotten the hang of the whole travel blogging thing. So, in the spirit of fresh starts I’m going to give this another kick at the can.
I realize that the travel blogging world is quite full and it seems like everyone wants to start one so they can get trips paid for. But, as cheesy as it is to say, that’s not why I’m doing this. I’ve never found a blog or a travel guide that matches the way I like to travel so I set out to create one. Over my many vacations, I’ve realized that I love to explore new places, new foods and new cultures… but at the end of the day, I love to come home to a comfy bed and a nice hot shower. I’ve never connected with any guidebook as they just seem to give a general overview of a city or a country. I like to dive in, head to museums that are off the beaten path, get lost in the streets of a new place and to eat something that I haven’t tried before.
Here, you’ll find a mix of things to do that are off the beaten tourist path, places to eat food you might not find at home and helpful hints for those of you like me, the people that like to explore what the world has to offer – but still enjoy a little teeny bit of coddling (like a nice hot shower at the end of a long day walking). You’ll also find my travel chronicles as well as photos and videos that I’ve taken during them, as I think that memorializing them in this way is one of the best ways to understand connections you make to people and places.
So, skål, to new adventures, new starts and to maybe, just maybe, blogging a little bit more.
We meet again… albeit this time a little bit older, a little bit wiser (maybe…) and with a bit more travel under my belt.
I think the time off has been good for me, its allowed me to travel without having to worry about getting a blog post up and spend more time actually “on vacation”.
While that has been great, I’d love to get this blog up and running again and see where it can take me.
SO, this is where you come in – what do you want to see from me? Pictures? Funny blogs? Places to stay? Things to do? Let me know! Drop me an email, twitter mention, carrier pigeon whatever it may be – send it my way and I will do my best to accommodate.
Well, today was kind of one of those built in rest days – which is always a blessing in disguise. When looking through the guidebook the drive from Húsavik to Svínavatn didn’t seem to have too much to see along the way except for Akureyri (the second largest city in Iceland). So, with that in mind we decided to ask the staff at Tungulending to see what there was to do in town. I had read that Húsavik is the capital of whale watching in Iceland so we figured why not give that a try.
As we were leaving Tungulending a strange feeling washed over me. Never before had I been sad to leave a place, but here I was wishing to stay longer at this wonderful slice of heaven. (N.b. if you EVER go to Iceland you NEED to stay here. Period) We headed into town armed with a few 10% off whale watching coupons and a map. The morning’s drive started out a tad eventful as we had to climb the hill leading to the main road into town – luckily this was before it got too windy and we made it no problem.
Húsavik is a small town in Northern Iceland famed for its whale watching which means we had to try and get on a tour. Upon arrival at the harbour we found out that the companies weren’t sure if they were going to send out their next boats due to the wind. In fact, they weren’t even sure if the boats they had sent out would stay out there. We were told to check back closer to the departure time to see if we could go. So, we headed souvenir shopping (as all self-respecting tourists do)! Now, I was on a hunt (as I usually am) for a Lopapeysa, the “national sweater” of Iceland. They are made out of the wool from Icelandic sheep and are known around the world for being cozy and warm. Sounds like my kind of sweater.
I decided to try my hand at finding one at a local artisan shop in Húsavik because we had the time and it supported the local community – not only satisfying my shopping needs but also helping the community. Deal. I ended up finding a beautiful grey and white one and some wool socks for my mom – she loves comfy things so this was ideal for her. By this time we had only spent a half an hour of the hour and a half we were to wait for the boat so we walked back to the car and got some gas. While getting gas we noticed how truly windy it was and decided for our sakes that it would probably be best not to head out in a boat. Boy, were we right.
On the drive into Akureyri we noticed dirt being blown across the road by the wind and I was white-knuckling the steering wheel to keep us going down the road. The drive into Akureyri was a constant battle against the wind, but we made it about and hour later. After a little bit of fun trying to figure out where our first stop (the Local Botanical Gardens) were, we made it and set off to look at the gardens. Even though there was little in bloom, the location was amazing. It is nestled on the side of a hill overlooking the bay Akureyri is on facing the mountains. I quite liked downtown Akureyri, it was a charming mix of colofurl old and new buildings and next time I come I’ll make sure to spend more time there!
We were starting to get hungry and Daylan noticed a place she wanted to eat in the guidebook so we headed there. While we were parking the car we noticed that the wind was picking up and had to battle to keep the doors of the car from hitting the cars around us. Soon enough, we were at Serrano chowing down on some burritos and deciding what the afternoon would have in store. We were going to get some Ice Cream but walking back to the car we were literally almost blown over by the wind – and when combined with the lack of map for the Ice Cream place we nixed that plan and were back on the road.
We had a little bit of fun trying to leave town as there were no signs telling us where Hwy. 1 (the Ring Road) was. But, after a few U-turns we figured it out and were soon on our way to Svínavatn. As we started climbing into the mountains, the car was fighting against the wind and we took our sweet time. But we made it safe and sound. As we drove we noticed that the wind was about 13 m/s – and any more we would have to stop and take a break (as its not recommended to drive in Wind speeds over 15 m/s!). The car was a champ and the kilometres went flying by. I had to stop to pee – and the old addage of “never peeing into a windstorm” had never been more applicable.
Soon enough, we found the road we needed to take to the place we are staying tonight – Guesthouse Svínavatn. Now, normally I would be phased by the fact that it’s a gravel road but after the wind I had been fighting I was nonplussed by it. A few kilometres down the road we noticed a few sheep by the road and stopped to take a few pictures. About 20 minutes later we were at the Guesthouse and I was thoroughly exhausted from the driving of the day. Enjoying the peace and quiet of having no one else here I fell asleep!
Now, a little word about where we are staying tonight. 1) its literally in the middle of nowhere. In fact, we’re about 20km from Blonduos (the largest town) and decided to not go to dinner there as we don’t want to battle the elements. 2) Its beside a beautiful lake. I’d normally love to go out exploring but the clouds have been VERY ominous all day and I’d rather not risk it!
Takk fyrir for reading this and see you again tomorrow 🙂