Sometimes you have to jump at opportunities. One of these opportunities happened to us when we were offered a job in western Germany. Since we were empty-nesters in our mid-forties we though “Why not?” We’ve always wanted to see Europe and we didn’t have much holding us back except for our vehicular possessions: A Nissan Xterra SUV, a Mazda Miata sports car, two Honda Ruckus scooters, and our home aboard a 36-foot Hunter sailboat. We sold ’em all!
The plan started around early spring of 2017, when I mentioned, “Why don’t we make an adventure out of moving to Germany?” Fortunately, Chantil is as adventure minded, if not more, as me. The plan was hatched to try and visit somewhere on our way to Germany. But where? Perhaps the USA? Route 66? Canada?
A quick view of the world map shows a small country located between the Americas and Europe. A country smaller than the size of my home state of Colorado. A country that has recently experienced a ‘boom’ in tourism. Iceland!
I visited forums, like ADVrider.com and Horizons Unlimited, and googled “shipping motorcycles USA to Iceland”. It turns out that getting to Europe from Iceland is easy. A ferry, operated by Smyril Lines sails from Iceland and the Faroe Islands to Denmark every week.
Getting the bikes to Iceland – a bit more problematic. Shipping bikes from the USA to Iceland can be done via air or by sea. One cargo company that offered air services is Icelandic Air Cargo. I’ve heard that shipping a motorcycle via air can be expensive but I made the call and was told that no cargo planes would be available for shipment of motorcycles during the months of August or September due to a broken plane. Onward to shipping via a ship…
The only option I found that makes regular shipments to Iceland from New England and Canada was EIMSKIP. There may be others, but EIMSKIP was very helpful and offered a English website detailing their shipping schedule. Originally, we had plans to ship our motorcycles from Canada, but after talking with a shipping agent, she felt it would be easier to clear customs for US registered bikes from a US port. Portland, Maine was the port of exit we decided on. Now to get the bikes to Portland…
We survived a 4,100 miles, 13 days, 12 US states, two Canadian providences, 13 relatives, and 151 gallons of gas trip from San Diego to Portland, Maine. The trip was too fast and furious to do a proper ride report, but we did meet our goal of visiting with family, and getting the bikes to their destination of Portland, Maine.
The bikes, both BMW G650GSs, and titles, were dropped off in the confident and professional hands of EIMSKIP on July 27th. We wouldn’t be seeing them again until we arrived in Iceland on August 21st…
Here is a small preview of our 18 days in Iceland:
Iceland 🇮🇸 Day 1 of 18
🗓: 20 Aug | 🌍: Keflavik to Reykjavik
Purple planes, a bus, and bit of sight-seeing. We arrived at Keflavik Airport at 1:45PM. I didn’t sleep at all during the all-night flight from San Francisco. I’m ready to crash once we reach the hotel however I know the best thing to do is stay awake until evening so I can adjust to Iceland time easier. Grey Line bus services provided a 45 minute ride to the Icelandair Hotel in Reykjavik. It was after 3PM before we arrived at the hotel and I just wanted to sleep. We set a 1-hour alarm and took a little nap before leaving the hotel to scurry up some dinner.
We walked around the marine side of Reykjavik and established our bearings a bit before ordering dinner from a food cart that served fish and chips. They gave us order “number 1”! Our first meal in Iceland and we’re treated like #1 – Good stuff!
Þúfa is a sculpture by Ólöf Nordal with a spiraling path to the top where a small fish-drying shed stands proudly.
It not enough to have purple airplanes! WOW Airlines even has purple rental bicycles. There is also a giant purple octopus above the sushi bar.
We walked around and enjoyed the views and various artwork located on the walls of some of the buildings near the marina.
This piece is titled ENDURFÆÐING / REBIRTH by Karen Briem. It’s designed such that you can crawl into it and hang from the “uterus”. No thanks.
Icelandic kids like to draw on the sidewalks with chalk as well. Are all Icelandic kids blond haired?
It’s August. Time for some ice cream! In Iceland you don’t have to worry about it melting because it was only 50°F outside.
As a graphic artist I find comfort in a world where things are well designed and colors are precisely chosen. There was a lot to enjoy around Reykjavik.
Sheep are a big part of Iceland and are bred for their meat and fiber.
This one is probably not good to eat – Perhaps a better sweater?
A map of Iceland. As we would discover, it’s missing the grey clouds and rain.
We made it back to the hotel at 8PM and it was still quite sunny outside. Sunset, even this late in the summer, isn’t until after 9:20 PM.
Tomorrow we’ll wake up early and walk along the boardwalk to EIMSKIP and see if our motorcycles are ready for pickup…
Iceland 🇮🇸 Day 2 of 18
🗓: 21 Aug | 🌍: Reykjavik to Skjòl Campground
We woke up eager to start the day after a great night of sleep. We walked around Reykjavik starting at 7:30 AM and quickly realized this town sleeps in; not much open. We wandered our way along the boardwalk, taking pictures along the way…
The Icelandair Hotel had some really interesting art on display including Sailor Ashore by Icelandic artist Aðalheiður S. Eysteinsdóttir.
Our hotel had these colorful balconies that added some interesting color to a grey building.
Now THIS is a Sprinter Van! Big balloon tires seem to be the thing here in Iceland.
Sólfarið – Sun Voyager is the famous sculpture by Jón Gunnar
We walked along the waterfront until we reached EIMSKIP where the mules have been waiting for us since Thursday. The process of finding our order, paying for the shipment, getting a security van ride to the warehouse, walking to the 8′ x 20′ cargo container, unstrapping and unloading the bikes, and connecting the batteries took about an hour and a half.
I had one last thing to do before starting up my mule – Add a sticker of the Iceland flag to commemorate our first European country! With a press of the start switch, both mules fired right up and we rode to a nearby gas station and then to our hotel so we could check out before noon.
While riding through the narrow and colorful streets of Reykjavik, we noticed some murals…
Australian artist Guido van Helten painted these mural on the Loftkastalinn building which is a former theater that was converted into a film studio.
After finding a SIM card it was time for some lunch.
The Hamburger Joint offered some interesting hamburgers and these stylish menus, written on cardboard with fun drawings. Bellies full. Time to ride and see Iceland!
One of the first things we noticed about Iceland is the roundabouts. We don’t have a lot of these in the United States so they will take some getting used to.
Þingvellir National Park
First tourist spot – Þingvellir National Park. This offered us a chance to walk inside the geologic gap created by the American and European continental shelves. Fortunately, no lava spews from the gap!
Gotta pay to pee here! Be prepared to spend money in Iceland. Everything is expensive – even the fee to use a bathroom. The public toilers here costed 2 euros ($2.36 USD). This is a new concept for us and one we’ll have to get used to while in Europe.
Some non-motorized two wheeled cousins from South Korea! We came across a lot of bicyclists who where riding the entire 1,328 km (825 miles) of Iceland’s Ring Road. Pretty hardcore!
The smart alex in me wants to throw some pennies in the stream. C’mon the sign only says no Dollars, Krona, Euro, or Yen.
Strokkur Geysir erupts about every few minutes to the joy of tourist from all over the world. There is also a nice visitors center and restaurant themed around the Icelandic national sport of Glíma – a style of wrestling.
We enjoyed a delicious fish soup – a popular dish in Iceland.
We only covered about 145 km (90 miles) today before calling it a night at Skjòl Campground. Tomorrow we will venture into the isolated center of Iceland via the F-26…
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