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Unplanned Destinations: Icelandic Urgent Care

Nearly 11 p.m. and the sun hasn't set yet.

Nearly 11 p.m. and the sun hasn’t set yet.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan for a trip, the unexpected happens. The unexpected can be good: making a new friend out of a stranger in a restaurant or on a tour. But it can also be bad. Anti-nausea meds bad.

I had the pleasure of stopping over in Iceland at the beginning of June on my way to France. I was so excited about this trip. Even though I would only be in Iceland for less than 48 hours, I was honestly more jazzed about exploring the northern island than I France. I devoured the Lonely Planet Guide to Iceland and electronically highlighted it to death.

My first day was magical. I landed at KEF around 6:30 a.m. Icelandic time, on very little sleep. But I had that nervous wonderment of seeing a new place and didn’t feel tired. I spent far too much money on a 66 North raincoat because it was pouring and I didn’t have one I could bring. But already I knew Iceland was special, because Stanley Tucci was shopping there too. Having never come across a famous actor in real life I said something stupid, but at least I wasn’t obnoxious — I don’t think. 

The wet pavement reflects Harpa's multicolored windows.

The wet pavement reflects Harpa’s multicolored windows.

I stared at the mossy rocks and the sea the entire Flybus ride into Reykjavik. Reykjavik isn’t very big, so I rapidly located my guesthouse, ogled the majestic Hallgrimskirkja church and began wandering the city. Stores weren’t open yet, but I got breakfast to go at Sandholt Bakery and continued my walk. My favorite way to explore a city is on foot. Had it not been so wet and cold I would have seen more. I took shelter with other wet refugees in Harpa, the city’s performing arts center, while looking out at the colorful boats in the harbor.

After I’d warmed up I wandered some more and found some open stores. I decide wool gloves were a good idea since I had a horseback riding tour planned for the afternoon. The horsebacking riding at Ishestar was the highlight of my trip. I had never ridden horses before, but my horse was gentle, although stubborn.

Enjoying a wet ride through the lava fields.

Enjoying a wet ride through the lava fields.

Even in the rain and cold, it was a magnificent experience to be on horseback staring out at the snow-capped and fog laden mountains. However, after an hour and a half on a horse for the first time, you should know all of your muscles will hurt. Your butt, your abs, your back, your arms. Everything. Muscles you didn’t know existed will be screaming at you. But it was worth it.

I did more exploring that evening before collapsing from exhaustion, but the next morning disaster struck. I woke up sick as a dog. Whether food poisoning or a 24-hour bug I don’t know, but it was misery. I’ll spare you the gory details. Suffice it to say it required a visit to a medical clinic (similar to our urgent care) where I begged for anti-nausea medication. Afipran is not a souvenir anyone plans to bring home with them. But I have a nice little bottle in my bathroom to remember Iceland by.

The worst part about getting sick one such a short stopover was that I missed out on my tour of Iceland’s South Coast. I didn’t get to see any of the sights outside Reykjavik which means someday I have to return to Iceland.

Word to the wise: travel insurance! I generally gamble when it comes to extra insurance, but this time around decided to be safe. It was the best money spent for the trip since my illness resulted in hundreds of dollars of unplanned expenses.  After this unplanned destination, I’ll be getting insurance whenever I travel internationally.

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