Hello wildlings! Thank you for the support of my first blog post. I’ve discovered there’s no built-in way for me to respond to your comments except emailing back, which I’m happy to do if you indicate you’d like me to. Otherwise, know I read and digest all your words, intrigued and connected by your shared experiences and buoyed by your encouragement.
This post features “Heart of Dragonfire” which is a portfolio piece that I did share to Instagram. As far as I can remember, it’s the only photo that’s made me well up when reviewing it on camera right after taking it, due to the magnitude of recognising that I’d made an image fully conveying the story of the experience. It’s a rare feeling for me in artist mode of “That’s the one!” because of the difficulty of doing justice to a complex mix of feelings and fantasies with 2D limitations. I’ve copied an excerpt of the IG caption at the end of this post to provide the backstory, as this post will instead focus on something more mundane: budget. In a future post, I’ll share more images from this dream.
How much did 5 weeks in Iceland cost?
Iceland is notoriously one of the most expensive travel destinations, as with the Faroe Islands where we arrived yesterday. While planning this summer back in January when I thought my UK spouse visa would be rejected (it has since been accepted), I decided I wanted to do this trip before I returned to Canada, and that the cheapest way for me and my husband Karl to spend an extended time in both countries would be to put our cosy, affordably purchased campervan Poppy on the Smyril Line ferry, driving it from England to Denmark from where it takes 2 days to reach the Faroes and a further day to reach Iceland. Without further ado, I shall list our expenditures below.
|Expenses For 2 People
|Cost in ISK/$USD
|Ferry from Denmark: 5/8 of the total round-trip cost for 5 weeks in Iceland and 3 weeks in the Faroes. This is for a 5m long vehicle at 2.5m height; cost is lower with a smaller vehicle. Includes the cheapest ship accommodation in shared dorms, and 2 change fees when we extended our time in Iceland to 4 weeks from 3 as originally planned, and then to 5 weeks when Litli-Hrutur erupted.
|Fuel: diesel was pricey, ~315 ISK/litre or $2.40USD.
|Groceries: overall quite pricey with processed food being the cheapest option.
|Eating out: almost never, as it was very expensive. One cheap soup meal shared at The Soup Company, 1 pizza, 1 cafe trip, 1 fries.
|Camping and Showers: wild camping is prohibited but because we were nocturnal to take advantage of photographic opportunities under the midnight sun, we slept during the day at public lots without needing to camp. Without being nocturnal it would be about 1800 ISK per person per night.
|Activities and Shopping: everything we did was free except parking at the volcano and popular destinations. Karl bought a cheap rain poncho.
|UK/EU Vehicle Breakdown Cover: 5/52 for 5 weeks out of the entire year’s cost from LV Britannia
|UK/EU Vehicle Insurance: 5/52 for 5 weeks of the year’s cost that insures Karl to drive from our UK insurer Adrian Flux
|Phone Service: 12gb/mo per person included in our Smarty plan from the UK
|Laundry: 2 loads, with occasional handwashing and hang drying to supplement
|TOTAL for 2 people, 5 weeks:
|Converted to monthly cost:
Was this more or less than you expected?
Because we exceeded our monthly household budget of $2000USD by $1000, it struck me as a lot. But when I remember we don’t have other monthly expenses like rent, mortgage, memberships, subscriptions and car payments, it’s easier to swallow. We also ate like royalty, not the standard budget traveller Icelandic fare of just packet soups and junk. And the cost of the ferry ($2086USD) was far less than car rental for a similar period (our friends paid $2700USD+ to rent a basic low-roof van for 2.5 weeks); with the ultimate comfort of having our home on wheels. Slow travel has been our path and salvation for the last year, and spending 5 weeks here was perfect.
We viewed it as worthwhile because we may never return to Iceland with our campervan, and almost certainly never to the Faroes. Every moment had the preciousness of being once-in-a-lifetime. This summer I frequently thought, “I will never experience this again,” during sights where it was obviously true like this eruption, but also while making music or belting out metal oldies or sipping tea out of the mug I’d carved into with Icelandic obsidian. It’s worth us being careful with our budget this winter and next year. I have no regrets spending my money to live.
Excerpt of IG caption, as well as safety considerations:
You know the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? I’ve found that expectations are also the death of joy. This experience was improved by being free of them.
I didn’t view images of the volcanic eruption before we went. Even with no idea if lava still flowed, I surprised myself with a teary moment of grateful delight on the long hike in. Of course, my mind flooded with awe when we arrived at the volcano. Every time I truly comprehended what I saw, I teared up with the magnitude of the magic of Earth and my luck. You understand.
After a few days, I looked through a volcano-related hashtag and knew I was fortunate that I didn’t see this content before my visits. What if I’d expected the volcano, or my photos, to look a certain way? My expectations would have tarnished my stunned wonder.
They might have distracted me from my moonlit dance with the molten gold, the visceral music of earthblood pulsing rhythmically through my bones like my heartbeat, filling me with exultation at the chance to experience the powerful primordial recognition that I am one with the planet.
When we consume or create quickly or habitually, we form inaccurate expectations about a location, an experience, a person, a future outcome, how to look and live. Comparison and dissatisfaction ensue if we hold rigid predictions that are not met.
As The Minimalists say, “Raise your standards. Lower your expectations.” This always unclouds my vision and increases the wholeness of my enjoyment. We need to do what is necessary to support our mindfulness and gratitude practice. That is the cure.
I’m thrilled to have successfully captured this powerful connection on camera to share with everyone who couldn’t be there. However, if you are lucky enough to visit, keep a careful watch on safetravel.is for safety recommendations and area closures due to gas levels and fires. Do not step on cooled lava as it is unstable and deadly hot. Assess the risks of the area. Be prepared to hike 20 kilometres in changing, cold and windy weather. Stay upwind of the volcano to avoid toxic fumes (the smoke in front of me is from burning mosses, not the volcano). As of July 18th, you could not reach the area in these photos, which were taken a week prior, due to ongoing firefighting. When in doubt, ask the helpful SAR personnel.