On my plane ride to Iceland I flip-flopped between playing 80 days on my iPhone - a choose-your-own-adventure game/story based on Jules Verne's novel Around the World in 80 Days - and watching Romancing the Stone, a 1984 romance drama about a novelist on a grand adventure to rescue her sister from treasure hunters in Colombia.
I've heard the argument that the romance and thrill of travel is a relic - a side effect of the discovery of new places. I've heard the adventures of the likes of Passeportout and Phileas Fog are impossible to replicate now that the world is so small. There's a joke statement about our generation often regurgitated on the forum site Reddit: "Born too late to explore the earth, too early to explore space, and just in time for dank memes."
Personally, I don't see how the experience of traveling is any less thrilling than it used to be - unless trying hard to not die from scurvy or foreign diseases was thrilling. Back when white people were "discovering" the world, there were already people living there. I'm discovering Scandinavia for myself, just as they were discovering the broader world back in the day. I'm not going to pillage anything or claim the place for the US, but I am experiencing the culture, food and traditions of a place new to me. There's plenty of time to explore the earth.
After a 6 hour flight, I began my 18 hour layover-excursion in Reykjavik, Iceland. I had little idea of what time it was in Seattle or when I'd slept last. Food sounded about as good as staying up for another 30 hours, so I didn't get to taste much of Iceland other than an airport turkey sandwich.
I had a moment of crisis upon realizing that leaving the airport was going to cost me 50 U.S. dollars, but I decided to bite the bullet and buy the ticket. Iceland was expensive, but not expensive enough to spend 18 hours in the airport. I found a window seat on the plush coach bus and took a deep breath. I was running on nothing but adrenaline, and I felt my willpower to move starting to collapse. A woman from Ontario sat beside me, and we spent the 45 minute ride into town discussing her travels. She was meeting a group of women to spend a week traveling through the country on horseback. She'd found a local stable in Ontario and practiced riding for weeks before the trip, and now she was on her way to connect with a group of women she'd never met and explore Iceland. I kind of wanted to trade her places, to be honest. At this point in my travels spending so many weeks alone felt quite daunting.
My short stay in Reykjavik was rather uninspired. I walked up to the steeple of the Lutheran church that towers over the flat city, walked along the coast and through neighborhoods, and finally settled into a courtyard in the center with a bent up copy of 1984. I hope I won't get sucked into the touristic trap of seeing the sites but not the place. I was in Iceland for one day, so I'll cut myself some slack here. From now on I want to venture into each day with the intention of an authentic experience.