Iceland is not the easiest place to travel around without money, or a car. So, maybe it wasn't the best first stop for a first-time solo international traveler with no money. I wasn't in the best of spirits either getting off the plane, to be honest. I had spent the last two months watching my four year relationship crumble apart in my fingertips. This was the energy I was putting out. Iceland sent that energy back to me, with cold winds and heavy rain.
Just driving around in Iceland is an experience. It sort of looks like an alien landscape: There are absolutely no trees, much of the ground consists of ancient, cracked lava covered with mushy, fluorescent green moss, and driving around, you can see waterfalls every five minutes just falling lazily off of the top of the basalt rock mesas left over from volcanoes.
I had the good luck of tracking down a Couchsurfing host in Iceland who also worked as a tour guide, and the day before I was leaving the country, he was driving a group of young 20-something international volunteers on a tour around the Golden Circle, a popular daytime trip. There were two extra spots in the van, so Clarice (the other Couchsurfer, a French artist from Nantes) and I got to tag along, happily. The Golden Circle features three main attractions: Thingvellir National Park, where the first Icelandic parliament was held 1000 years ago, Geysir National Park, home of the Strokkur Geyser, a 30 meter tall Geyser, and Gullfoss, one of the most massive waterfalls I've ever been to. Visiting the geyser was by far the most fun experience.
It was freezing cold out below an icy blue sky and the wind was having a heyday, so it was heaven to stand in the steamy hotness coming from the famous geyser. Clarice and I huddled together right behind the rope, assuming the staff at the park had done a proper job of determining how far away from the geyser it was safe to stand. Warm and comfortable in our makeshift sauna, we startled as Strokkur bubbled up and erupted 30 meters out of the small opening into the Earth, and instantly warm water began raining down on me. Just a little at first, but as the wind blew stronger, more and more water all of a sudden bombarded Clarice and I, as we turned on our heels a bit too late and scrambled as fast as we could out of the stream of water. How considerate of the Icelandic Gods to provide us with such a delightful hot shower!
Fun fact about Iceland: Over 30% of the population believes in the existence of fairies. And really, how could you not in a landscape so magical, wracked with dynamic energy. Iceland is much like Hawaii in this way: It will really show you where you are in life. It will either take you in and coddle you, or spit you out, and force you to learn your lessons the hard way. To be honest, my experience was the latter.