Almost done planning my vacation

Guys, I’m almost done planning my vacation. Look at this amazingly detailed itinerary I’ve come up with:

Travel Itinerary

Given that I’ve only written the names of countries and one of the months of the Gregorian calendar on a piece of paper, I think I’ve come pretty far. You should see what the plan looked like last week.

I’d like to believe I’m an excellent traveler, but really I’m an excellent traveling companion. I’ll go anywhere and I’ll do anything, but please please please don’t make me read a Lonely Planet.

I tried to figure out the Turkey part of the trip, but when I opened the guidebook it didn’t tell me which things were the things I should go see. It detailed the wine region, the ancient ruins, the nightclub-dotted seaside, and the places archaeologists speculate that historic things happened based on vague descriptions from the English translations of ancient epic poems. How am I supposed to know which of these things is worth doing? I have so many more questions, like:

Are places where things used to happen awesome?

Are the nightclubs more Rick’s Cafe or A Night at the Roxbury? Because I could be really into giving mean side eye to some Nazis.

Is Turkish wine even good? Does wine need to be good for me to consume the volumetric equivalent of a shit ton of it? Actually, that’s a definitive “No” according to my liver. Trader Joe’s entire business model depends on it.

Unfortunately none of those questions have anything to do with what I should do while I’m in Turkey.

You may have noticed that I have yet to even mention Greece. That’s because I haven’t even begun to contemplate Greece.

Part of being good at travelling is having the ability to make plans in an order that makes senses (like starting with the arrival and ending with the departure). I have the double negative version of that. I can’t plan anything, and I do it in an order that begins somewhere in the middle and ends with me completely unable to book a greyhound bus ticket.  I have no need for a greyhound bus ticket. Turkey is not a really a bus-able distance from my currently location. Then how is it that I currently find myself on the greyhound website?

I’ve only traveled by myself once, and believe it or not I actually made it to my desired destination: Iceland.

“Iceland, you say?” you say, “That had to be an accident.”

“Who wouldn’t want to spend a week on a largely uninhabited frozen rock?” Is the question I didn’t think to ask myself.

Actually, I’ve heard that Iceland has a lot of really cool things to see. I, personally, wouldn’t know because I didn’t see many of them, which is tragic because the very affordable Icelandair package I purchased went out of its way to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It included five nights at a hotel in Reykjavik, a whale watching excursion, and a guided tour of Thingvellir National Park that included a dip in some hot springs.

The first day which I spent walking around downtown Reykjavik in a haze of jetlag. Day 2 – Ostensibly, I was supposed to go whale watching, but what I actually did was sit on a boat for two hours because the whales were not feeling it. Our part-time guide/marine biologist had no recourse but to apologize and explain the Lindsay Lohan-like unreliability of the whales of the North Atlantic. Day 3 – was the guided tour of Thingvellir national park which was very interesting because it was (like in Turkey) a place where a lot of things used to happen. For like a thousand years Vikings gathered to recite their entire body of law and make any kind of legislative changes. Now that place is a home to a medium-large sized rock. The hot springs did not disappoint, until you have to get out of the hot springs and you realize you’re standing outside half naked and wet in Iceland, which (in case you didn’t know) is a Land of Ice. I discovered that day that a sex change does not necessarily require a lot of surgery.

Which brings me to Days 4 and 5. I decided to rent a car because that’s what people told me to do. Iceland is a big country and most of it is outside of the capital. On day 4 I decided to drive away from the coast and see a big waterfall named Gullfoss, the law rock again (on account of how thrilling it was the first time), and the original geyser, named Geysir. Then, since I was already inland, I would drive through the center of the country, then south and back up the coast to Reykjavik in one day. Except that when I got to the center of the country, after approximately 8 hours of driving, the road was closed and I had to turn around and drive all the way back. Then on day 5 I had the brilliant idea to get back in the car and drive around the perimeter of the country to the other side too see Akureyri (a not terribly note-worthy city) and back again in one day.

This is what the entire drive looked like:

If you look closely enough you can see an emptiness that mirrors my soul

If you look closely enough you can see an emptiness that mirrors my soul

Beautiful, right? It’s gorgeous and dreary, sort of like a Fiona Apple song. But try staring at it for twelve hours and then see how you feel about it.

The drive was as beautiful as it was long. There are no radio stations outside of Reykjavik because there are no people, so for twelve hours it was just me, my rental car, and my slowly decaying mental state on the open Icelandic highway. After about 6 hours of driving I would have given anything to hear Ryan Seacrest count down pop songs. After about 11 hours of driving, I didn’t need Ryan Seacrest because the voices in my head were plenty of company.

Things Iceland has that I didn’t see:

Black Sand Beaches, Active Volcanoes, Elves (called Huldufólk), the Aurora Borealis, Bjork, and every variety of whale.

What I did see was an emptiness so vast that nearly it nearly swallowed my soul. Most people come home from vacation with a tan and a commemorative t-shirt, all I got was an undiagnosed personality disorder. This is what happens when I’m allowed to plan my own vacations.

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