The start of sunset viewed from the coastal walking track of Noosa National Park
I disembarked from Brisbane after a weekend scuba diving adventure in a rented Kia Carnival minivan for a week-long road trip up to Cairns. My first stop was Noosa Heads, with a detour to the Mount Beerburrum viewpoint. It was nice to have complete freedom over where I wanted to go after relying on the limited public transport in Melbourne for so many weeks, and getting used to driving on the left for the first time was an interesting experience.
At Noosa Heads I visited the national park where I was treated to one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life. The view was complete with surfers off the coast to make a stereotypically Australian image.
A view of the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road
Near the top of every Australia to-do list is a road trip on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and it was one of the very first touristy things I did when I arrived. I rented a car with an Australian friend I’d met in Bolivia, and we headed out from Melbourne through Lorne to Apollo Bay, taking a detour to Cape Otway and spending some time in Port Campbell, before getting to Warrnambool and heading back – all in 48 hours. It was a whirlwind, but we saw some beautiful sights along the way, including some wild koalas!. Unfortunately it was too cold to go swimming in May, but we spent some time walking on the beach anyway.
I loved learning about the history of the area – from indigenous tribes and William Buckley to shipwrecks and lighthouses. I learned that the first American vessel to sink in WWII sunk right off of Cape Otway, something I’ll keep in my back pocket in case I’m ever on Jeopardy!
Additionally, there are several great hiking spots along the road, for short walks or longer ones that apparently can take several days. We did a few short walks, but realized at the end of the day that it had added up to quite a trek!
I’ve been on the road about six months now and it’s definitely starting to wear on me. Planning and research is a complete chore rather than an exciting exercise in possibility. Packing my bag, which used to be a careful strategy, has now become mission to smush everything together in as little time as possible. Every church and monastery is identical to the last. I can’t be bothered to hike up another mountain, learn a few phrases in a new language, or get excited by unfamiliar food. Staying in bed watching movies for two days straight is the most enticing activity my mind can grasp.
The strangest thing I think I’ve ever eaten… smoked puffin breast at 3 Frakkar in Reykjavik
I’ve been traveling around central and eastern Europe for the past few weeks and getting my delicious fill of wiener schnitzel and goulash, but I’ve also been craving some of the Icelandic delights I had during my road trip a few weeks ago. The amazing fresh seafood and awesome lamb dishes were undeniably sumptuous, albeit a bit above my backpacker price range.
Strokkur, Geysir’s neighbor, erupts every 4 minutes or so
I arrived at Gulfoss, one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, at just about 2 o’clock in the morning. I had drunk a lot of Red Bull before the drive because I was nervous about getting drowsy, and the drink worked better than I had expected. Full of energy, I decided to just go ahead and visit the falls in the twilight, which turned out to be a magical experience.
Seriously, looking at this sky never got old.
I initially wanted to visit Snæfellsnes National Park on day 4, but I quickly realized that it was an overly ambitious plan. As it was, I spent most of the day driving even without making the detour onto the peninsula! I definitely could have used another two or three days with the car to see more sights. It just means I’ll have to go back one day.
Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall meets the Yank without a Chain
From Bakkagerdi I headed to the northern coast of the island and visited Dettifoss, “Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall,” and the area around Myvatn – “Midge Lake” or “Fly Lake” in English. The road up to Dettifoss was the worst I experienced and I was terrified of getting a stone in my windshield. The insurance for the car doesn’t cover any windshield damage, which didn’t seem like such a big deal until I realized that it is actually very possible to get a stone kicked up at you from another car on these gravel side roads. Fortunately, this didn’t happen to me and I made the round trip to Dettifoss with my car intact.