While I was still in the early stages of planning this trip, I didn’t have many items on my itinerary, other than to see the plane wreck on Sólheimasandur. I knew from day 1 that I absolutely had to find it, since the chance to explore a crashed plane from the 70’s doesn’t come often. The only problem was that it was a three hour drive from Reykjavik.
I made arrangements to rent a car, but I needed someone to share this adventure with (and to help me navigate). I discovered InterPals, a website where you can find pen pals from all over the world! That’s how I found Teresa. We talked briefly about our personalities, our Harry Potter houses, and shows we enjoy. Once I felt comfortable enough with her, I told her of my plans and she seemed excited to join me.
When the day came, I texted Teresa and asked her to meet me at the car rental shop. I was somewhat afraid that she’d turn out to be a serial killer or something, but then I remembered this is Iceland, one of the safest places on earth. This is the country where people leave their babies in strollers outside to soak up the sun while they grab lunch in cafés.
As I expected, Teresa was exactly who she presented herself to be online. We picked up the car, grabbed a quick snack, and then headed out on the road towards Vik. During the entire drive, everything we saw was gorgeous (including ourselves, of course).
We pulled over for an impromptu photoshoot when we found a little shed beneath these beautiful towering cliffs.
We were technically on someone’s property, but there was no one in sight other than a herd of rams. I had been wearing my favorite pair of heels, but the grass was thick and the ground was soft, so I took them off and changed into my Nike’s. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in the beauty that surrounded me, that I completely forgot to grab my shoes when we left. So, I can only assume that my beautiful Oxford heels were eaten by rams. Which reminds me, if you’re a fan of indie films, check out the beautiful Icelandic film, Rams.
About halfway to Vik, Teresa informed me that one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls was coming up. We pulled over to enjoy it’s beauty. What I loved most about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it, which made for great photos. And soggy clothes.
When we got to Vik, we went to see the iconic Vik Church, which the village is known for. Usually you can drive right up the hill, but the only road that could take us there was closed for construction. So, that was a bit of a letdown. Vik is a very small village, with a population of only 318, so there wasn’t much else for us to do. We decided to venture a little further out of town to see what we could find.
Okay. If I had to choose one place that truly captures the full essence of Iceland, it would be Dyrhólaey. I could see so many natural wonders surrounding me. The beautiful and mysterious basalt columns of Reynisfjall Mountain to the East. The black sand beach to the South. The iconic Dyrhólaey cliffs to the West. Mýrdalsjökull glacier to the North. Absolutely breathtaking.
After hopping back in the car and driving up the road for a few minutes, we accidentally stumbled upon this cute little church with a cemetery, and, because I’m obsessed with cemeteries, we spent some time there. I did quite a bit of research on it, and though I did find a few other people who had found it, they all seemed to have mistaken it for Vik Church, which is located a few kilometers away… So I’m going to call it the Dyrhólaey Cemetery and Church.
THE PLANE WRECK
So, everything we did in Vik was wonderful, but this was the original purpose of the road trip. There is a US Naval plane that crashed on a beach in the 1970′s, and it is now an abandoned wreck. No one was harmed when the plane made its crash landing, but it has remained on the shore where it landed for almost 50 years. It is really hard to find, and most people don’t even know it’s there. Teresa had even to Vik many times before, and she had never heard of it, nor did any of the locals we asked for directions.
We parked on the side of the road, laced up our walking shoes, and set out on what would be a very exhausting adventure. Cars with 4-wheel drive used to be able to go right up to the plane, but local landowners have since banned all vehicles from driving on the beach. The plane sits 2.5 miles from the road, which took us a little over an hour of walking each way. Unfortunately, it feels like you’re walking around aimlessly forever because you can’t see the plane until you’re about 100 feet away (it’s hidden in a dune).
The beach stretches on for miles and miles without any noticeable landmarks to keep you on the right path. After an hour and a half of walking, we were tired, thirsty, and freezing. The wind was very strong and sand was blowing into our eyes. Just as we started to consider giving up the search and heading back, we finally found it.