We woke at 4am, just beating the sunrise and after begrudgingly hauling ourselves out of the house we made our way to the airport.
The airport was relatively trouble free, despite aching shoulders and chafing hips from our ridiculously heavy packs. We did manage to sneak onto the plane first though giving us the luxury of overhead baggage space.
Arriving at what felt like dinner time (it was 8am) we hopped on a bus to Reykjavik before stocking up on gas, a map and other small items to take with us on the trail. The first thing that shocked us were the prices in Iceland. A yoghurt, beans, half a loaf of bread and two bananas cost £15.
With our packs loaded up with freeze dried food and sleeping kit we hopped on the 4 hour bus to our first camp of Landmannalaugar. The journey began cloudy but relatively pretty if a little mundane. Flat volcanic planes were filled with nordic ponies running up and down. As the journey progressed, the clouds disappeared, as did the flat grassy plains, and the tarmac road. As the sun came out it danced through the huge dust cloud our truck was kicking up. The mountains got bigger, the rivers raged faster and of deeper shades of turquoise.
We were slowly, but terrifyingly being driven into what looked like something from a Lord of the Rings set. The beautiful weather made for a brilliant first impression, exactly as I'd expected.
Landmannalaugar was surrounded by a hot spring, rhyolite hills and pyroclastic flow. Nestled in the valley basin was the campsite which looked like something from a video of Everest base camp. Mountaineering tents of all colours and sizes littered the floor.
After checking into our hut and demolishing a bag of Haribo we set about walking around the immediate vicinity and dipped our hands in the hot springs. It turns out where the water's steaming - its pretty hot.
With a 24 hour sun, we had nothing to do but eat overpriced beans on toast, sit, relax and absorb the view and friendly atmosphere. That's fine by me. The hills still littered with snow that hadn't melted glistening in the sun was an unforgettable sight.
The evening was peaceful as various European accents twittered in the background with a gentle breeze and flies divebombing into my headnet. Luckily the flies just enjoyed crashing into you at high speed but don't bite like the midges back home. I can cope with the odd fly up my nose.
Both Alex and I eagerly anticipated tomorrow, to begin our trek guided only by a low-detail 1:100,000 map. If the weather stays this sunny it will be unforgettable. However things are notoriously changeable in Iceland and our first day of waling sees the highest altitude. Although that is only 1200m, guides warned it is very similar to 3000m in the European Alps so the weather could be eventful to say the least.
No matter what happens it sure beats sitting on a beach in Malaga (although maybe a future, borderline hypothermic version of myself will disagree if the weather turns bad). But whilst its sunny, I say give me the peace, solitude and majestic beauty of nature any day.
I also slept, a lot, all day. Slept on the plane, on the airport transfer and slept on the bus to the start of the trail. When combined with a 24 hour sun I wasn't optimistic for getting to sleep tonight. By the time we had sorted ourselves out it was 11pm and the sun hadn't shown any signs of setting at all. It'd be a long night.