It was our first day in Iceland. We woke up that Tuesday morning — or Wednesday morning. I’m not sure. That time change had me jacked up. — but THAT morning, we woke up. We were full of cheer, full of energy, and ready to get our adventures started.
We had a 2-hour drive ahead of us, and since we were staying outside of the main city of Vik, we planned to stop for breakfast in town along the way. The first stop was a black sand beach, and perfect, because there was a restaurant too. Unfortunately, when we arrived, it was only 8:30 am and the restaurant wouldn’t be open until 10, but since town was technically still up the road 15 minutes, we decided to keep driving.
In the time it took you to read this sentence, I drove through the whole town. That’s it. I blinked, and I missed it. Clearly, finding a restaurant wasn’t going to be possible that morning. No biggie, though. We had snacks. We always have snacks. We’d eat lunch once we reached the next town.
Well, we eventually reached our destination… on the other side of the country. My options were eating a postcard from the souvenir shack or something I found in the porta potty. I’m just still thankful that, by some miracle, I stopped 20 miles back and filled up the car’s gas tank. Otherwise, we’d be stuck and hungry at this point. Do these people not eat?
After some exploring, we started our long drive back to the AirBNB. Surely, we must have missed something. Then we saw it. A restaurant sign. “Breakfast and Dinner.” “Imagine if they don’t serve lunch,” we laughed. Plot twist: They didn’t serve lunch.
So back on the road once again, this time in the middle of a snowstorm. How it was even possible to have to use the bathroom after all that deprivation, I’m unsure, but there we were, on the side of the road, me peeing in a bush, both of us freezing, and so damn hungry.
We continued down the road and eventually pulled into the parking lot at the national park. We were exhausted. We had the intention of hiking but could barely pull ourselves out of the car. I’m relieved. A cafeteria! Could have practically peed my pants again out of excitement.
Oh, but look again. A sign that said the cafeteria was closed for the winter. Are they bears? Do these people hibernate in the winter and not need food?
We ended up inside the gift shop, standing in front of a fridge full of yogurt. At the bottom, one sandwich. More specifically, the grossest looking ham and cheese sandwich I had ever seen. If you know me, you know that I take my food very seriously, so the selfishness in me wanted to grab that sandwich and run, but I agreed to split it with Sarah. Bless my soul. I’m such a great friend.
Maybe I was really hungry — definitely really hungry — but that was the best half a sandwich I’ve ever had in my whole life. At this point, my hangry level had gone from a 100 to a 99.7, and the only thing that kept me going was the thought of how skinny I’d be coming home from vacation. Sorry ’bout it.
We finished our hike and continued towards home. Luckily, we knew about the restaurant at the beach for dinner. We pulled into the parking lot and headed up to the door, ready to put an end to this series of unfortunate events. Why is everyone standing outside, though? It’s freezing.
The restaurant closed at 6 pm. And are you ready for this? It was 6:15 pm. Coooooooool.
Eventually, we were able to find something on Google. It required some backtracking and turning down some tiny little roads, but we found food. Hot food. I’d survive until tomorrow.
The next morning came. Here we go again… We headed east. “Café,” we saw. Perfect. Breakfast. But, apparently, café means “gas station,” and you could choose between a sad looking apple or a stale muffin. No, thanks. We headed east, again.
The problem in Iceland is that stores look like houses. Hotels look like houses. Everything looks like houses, and I was a few minutes away from knocking on someone’s front door to ask for a bowl oatmeal.
A “Restaurant” sign. Finally! I pulled in, eagerly jumped out of the car, and we found ourselves standing in front of a locked door with a key pad.
This can’t be it. So I walked towards the other side of the building but only stumbled across a dumpster outside of the kitchen’s back door.
Confused, we looked at each other. Sarah shrugged and tried the door. To our surprise, the door opened. Inside, a cute — extremely small — open seating dining room. Food! That’s all that mattered.
We quickly found an open table, and I headed to the bar to pay for this precious slice of heaven we had found.
“Hi. I want to pay for two breakfasts.”
Even more confused than I was, the waitress responded that breakfast is included with our room.
I processed this, slowly returned to Sarah, carefully deciding how I was going to relay this message.
“Breakfast… um.. is included with our room,” I finally said. We sat there quiet for a minute.
At this point in our friendship, Sarah and I have been through a lot together, but were we really ready to take the next step? Were we really going to steal breakfast? Were we really that desperate?
Sarah broke the silence. “I’m so hungry.” Thank goodness. Hallelujah! Turned out, we were that desperate. With limited options — Go figure. The hotel probably couldn’t find food either — we scarfed down two pieces of toast. I skipped coffee, so I was miserable, but my heart was pounding off all that adrenaline, so who even needs caffeine.
We got out unnoticed and deserving of Oscars for those performances and started our day. That night when we reached the city, we treated ourselves to the biggest dinner ever and an even bigger ice cream donut dessert. Duh.
Looking back, these are always the memories I end up cherishing the most months later. So in the moment when we found ourselves knee deep in a mud pit while exploring The Golden Circle the next day, all we could do was laugh and blame karma for the time we stole a piece of toast.