Day 10 – Dutch Courage

I did think very highly of Vik as a campsite and I love that we gained a good story from the place. Towards the end of our stay though, the place was falling apart. I may have mentioned this before, but it is the only campsite for a good 50-60 km in every direction, so if people want to see all of the awesome sights near Vik (various waterfalls, glaciers, the crashed dc plane, the black sand beach etc), then they either have to stay at Vik campsite for cheap or at the hotel for a high cost. Either that or travel a great deal to and from the place. This meant that we had a good 500-600 campers all fighting for four showers, one washing machine and two sinks in which to wash dishes. All of this and the camp owner seemed to have lost the plot since the electricity shortage and just wasn’t around much. So the place was becoming too dirty to be healthy. That and there were a good amount of campers who didn’t respect the idea of staying quiet at night and frequently hogged the dining area and the plugs. We were ready to move from there, and there was no one around to charge us for the last two nights we were there even if we did want to pay.

Where we’ve ended up now is a campsite called Langbrok. It looks adorable from the outside, and so far the amount of amenities seems heavenly. It’s a breath of fresh air! I was told by a German lady staying here that this campsite is frequently used by Icelandic holiday makers and not so much tourists. I really hope I get to meet a few Icelandic people tonight. The campsites have mostly been good experiences, and there’s a few that I can’t rate highly enough, but you can tell that Iceland is struggling to cope with the massive increase in tourism over the last few years. Not to hold that against them – there’s 300 odd thousand of them and over a million tourists per year now. You could see a few campers trying to create a more co-operative culture within the campsites, by offering food they no longer needed and leaving behind half full gas canisters and boxes of washing powder. There was even one lady going round the tables and wiping them down for other campers to use, but more will need to be done soon in order to improve the standards of camping. I don’t want to labour this point too much, but I’m currently writing this in a room buzzing with flies and I feel more content than the end of our stay at Vik.

Map to Kaffi Langbrok

Apart from the camping situation, we’re currently going over old turf in the sense that we are now going back over the same patch of ring road we travelled on before, but Iceland is still popping up with amazing sights. We saw the crashed dc plane today and its crazy how it’s survived the amount of wind and rain there. Iceland must have claimed many ships and I’m sure more than one plane over the years, but this one ended up becoming a tourist attraction and it was bizarre to see.

I was just enjoying the scenery in the campsite at about 6pm, when I noticed two men sitting outside on the porch. They talking in a foreign language in quite lulled, relaxed tones with two beers, like you would sit with an old friend. Whilst we were making use of the WiFi in the bar, we noticed they kept popping their heads in every so often for another round. I estimated they’d had about four rounds before coming inside. Once the sun had begun to set, the owners had a good idea to put the TV on, and I’m sure if you’ve been without TV for a while, most of you will agree that it becomes fascinating again. I noticed that it was an American show, about some over dramatic people trying to survive in the terrible conditions on a campsite with healthcare nearby 24/7. There was one scene where the shows doctor was considering whether to pop a zit or give the contestant some anti-biotics. The thought made me feel queasy and I must have audibly gone “eww”, because I then heard a voice say “I thought women liked popping zits?”. I’ll give it to this guy that he had a good opening line when speaking to strangers. This man and his friend then sat down at the same table and began talking to us. It didn’t take us long to learn that they were two Dutch men, who became friends in the army 26 years ago. Since then, one became a biology teacher and one became a German teacher. The biology teacher said he’d often come to Wales with his classes, to show them some of the wildlife, but also to let them practice their English. He loves Wales! The topic then somehow turned onto bird watching, and that’s where it remained for most of the evening. With the help of YouTube videos and Google and the biology teachers knowledge, we identified most of the birds we’d seen since being in Iceland. I’m aware that it may not sound the most interesting topic right now, but consider the fact that we were tiring of the same conversations about our trip, how long we were there for and where we were going next. I don’t begrudge that and anyone who wants to give us their time is more than welcome, but this change in conversation felt really refreshing. On top of that, he had an obvious passion for the pastime, which was infectious. His friend didn’t seem quite as passionate about bird watching, but had a lot to say about Iceland and the campsite. You’d want people like these as tourists! At some point in the evening, Dan asked them where their tent was set up. Apparently all of those beers on the porch were drunk waiting for the light drizzle of rain to stop. It didn’t stop all evening, it just became heavier! It was now 11 o clock at night, the temperature had dropped a great deal and the visibility had almost gone. It wasn’t them I saw the next day first, but multiple layers of their tent stretched over some railing, in an attempt to dry it. After Vik, I’d begun to feel really withdrawn socially and started to see other campers as just other people in queues, so I’m grateful for their easy conversation and for sharing their outlook on Iceland and travel with us. I hope your tent situation improves!

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