Recently, I’ve come to realize that, in my three years of traveling Europe, you can never be too careful with bad things happening on the way. You can plan and be cautious all you want, but when it comes down to it, there will be incidents out of your control and it’ll happen all the same. In other words, shit happens.
I’ve noticed a pattern during my travels– it seems that every year around April or May that, when I’m traveling, something big happens. Even when I was careful, it wasn’t careful enough. From taking drugs in Amsterdam in 2016 to *almost* getting robbed in Morocco last year, it seems that April and May are the “cursed months” that the worst incidents happen to me. All the same, they make for stories to tell back home (or not– sorry, Mom and Dad!).
This year, my *crazy* story would have to be during my time in Iceland. With its beautiful, but temperamental weather, this island country is absolutely wild and untamed, still not quite touched by tourists despite its growing popularity in the last few years. That said, you can expect crazy weather from sun one minute to a hailstorm the next.
I spent a week visiting Iceland; I used Reykjavik as my base for organized day tours to other parts of the country. In total, I went on three day tours– Southern coast, Golden Circle, and Snaefellsnes Peninsula— all of which were stunning. True, the weather was inconsistent and windy, but it didn’t deter from exploring the rugged beauty of it all.
I’d done the Southern coast and the Golden Circle during the first two days I was in, both of which were great. My trip to Snaefellsnes Peninsula was the last of my organized day tours, and I was especially excited to visit the area with its iconic Kirkjufell, aka “Church Mountain.” Basically, it’s the image you see of Iceland when you search on Google Images, and I was excited to see it in person.
Prior to reaching Kirkjufell, though, our tour bus brought us to other lovely destination along the peninsula, including the coastline littered with seals and Arnarstapi, where we strolled along the cliffs that reminded me of Étretat, France. Amazing landscapes, all of which were worthy of a photo (or a thousand).
Following Arnarstapi, we visited a small canyon by the beach. We wandered through the mini-canyon before reaching the shoreline, with black sand that reminded me much of Vik, which I’d visited a couple of days prior. We were given some time to explore and take photos, at our own risk, of course. That said, we headed down the canyon and enjoyed our time down by the shore.
The waves were quite rough and unpredictable due to the wind– I’d noticed they were a bit tumultuous, but I thought that I would be fine where I was, as I took photos down by the beach. In hindsight, I should’ve avoided getting too close, because I soon saw the waves getting bigger and bigger and, by the time I realized and tried to run from it, it was too late.
Water rushed over me– the force was enough to cause me to fall. I was holding my camera phone in my hand, and from the fall, I ended up dropping it. Before I could figure out what happened, the waves receded, and carried my phone along with it. I immediately started to panic, “no, no, no, no, no,” but it was too late. As quick as the waves came, the sooner they went and carried my phone out to sea.
I was soaking wet, but in that moment, I was more upset that I’d just lost my phone than anything. Panic attack ensued, and I cursed for a solid five minutes, patrolling the shoreline in hopes of finding my phone, all but in vain. Soon enough, I accepted that my phone was, in fact, gone and lost forever, and retreated to the tour van.
The tour guide saw me soaked and bleeding from the cuts I’d received from the rocks when I fell and treated me. I also explained to him what had just happened, and I inquired if there happened to be a phone store in Reykjavik where I could get a cheap smartphone. I still had over two weeks to go on vacation, and I needed a smartphone to access my emails, contact family and friends through apps, take photos, and otherwise get my flight/travel boarding passes to get to and from places. The guide was super helpful, referring me to a place in Reykjavik where I could get a smartphone, and that was that.
Granted, we still had six hours to go on our tour, so the best I could do was sit in the van and stay warm in my soaked clothes, so as to not get pneumonia. Interestingly enough, I befriended a couple from Ohio in the van: the husband had also gotten too close to the waves and went under (several times), although he still had his phone in the end (which ended up getting fried, but he had his wife’s to back up). We eventually became Facebook friends, and they allowed me to take their photos of Kirkjufell for my blog posts, which of course I still insisted on crediting them for. Really nice couple, and I guess I’m glad for such an unfortunate event, since I made friends with them.
I was incredibly fortunate that I was in Reykjavik the following day (no organized tours or anything) and that it was Saturday, so stores were still open. I braved the atrociously-rainy weather to the phone store, where I chalked up 270€ for a new smartphone. I didn’t get a SIM card, as I decided to wait until I returned to France to get a new one. I was glad that I was able to figure it out within 24 hours and, even better, was able to back up and restore most of my apps and photos I’d taken from my trips thus far. I was able to get things back to normal within a few hours and continue the rest of my vacation relatively smooth-sailing.
In hindsight, I knew it was stupid of me to have stood too close to the waves– if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have lost my phone. All the same, it’s a lesson to be learned, and things did turn out fine in the end. For the rest of my trip, I made sure to be extra-careful with my new phone, so as to not repeat the same tragic event. I’ve since gotten a new SIM card, and all’s good.
Thanks for reading, and until then!