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Iceland The Globe Travel Guide
© David Williams
Catching the ferry

29 June 1981


Page 2

This French-registered Mercedes lorry carries a caravan piggy-back style.
I noticed the vehicle in the workshop of an Icelandic garage only a few days after we landed. It is quite possible that the very rough roads, and the consequent hammering a suspension takes, might have been too much for the caravan.
This is a French Renault car in the top gallery inside the ferry. The driver has thoughfully put a map of Iceland on the bonnet to lessen the chances of getting lost. Although this is presumably not a 4x4 vehicle, the map shows that the driver intended to cross one of the northern deserts and go round the western side of Vatnajökull. A difficult journey.
Did the driver get there ?

One older French couple were driving a lorry with a caravan precariously perched on top. I reckoned the French and the Germans easily outclassed every other nationality so the French took a well-deserved top place in the explorers` hierarchy, with the Germans taking second place. The Italians came next, not for their 4x4 vehicles, but their fancy motorcaravans; however, judging by the number of passengers they carried, I reckoned they would each have less living space than I would have in my small tent.

After everyone had checked where they belonged in the social order, we were given the signal to start boarding the ferry. The big 4x4s were put on the main car deck as their tall and overloaded roof-racks required the extra height. Those of us in wee cars had to drive up a steep and extremely narrow ramp and then squeeze into the top gallery. At least our wee cars looked down on the 4x4s for the duration of the crossing.

The car decks` doors closed and the ship was preparing to move off the quayside when someone spotted a motorcyclist racing towards the ferry. It was too late to use the loading ramp so his bike was lifted up to the deck by a fork-lift truck. The Germans always do it in style.

We were now ready. The ship let out a loud blast on its horn. A large lump appeared in my throat and my eyes moistened. We were on our way - Iceland here I come !

Not to be outdone by the 4x4s I saw in 1981, the next time I drove round Iceland was in 1983 and in my own long-wheelbase Land Rover. It had a six-cylinder petrol engine whose consumption was best measured in gallons per mile rather than miles per gallon. With an overdrive as well as the standard transfer box, it had sixteen forward and four reverse gears. Up top, it had a wooden-floored roof-rack decorated with spare wheels, jerrycans, shovel and axle stands. Inside I had fitted cupboards, a sink, fluorescent lights and curtains.
The Scots can do it in style too.

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