While driving nearly six hours over icy roads, Noel Santillan began to think something might be wrong.
LONDON — When Noel Santillan typed the word Laugarvegur instead of Laugavegur into his rental car’s GPS, the New Jersey resident couldn’t have imagined the extra “r” would make him a celebrity in Iceland.
Santillan, 28, arrived at Keflavik International Airport on Monday after a five-hour flight from New York and was eager to get to the Hotel Fron on Laugavegur, a main street in Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, local media reported. But the spelling error got in his way, according to Visir, an Icelandic news website.
While driving nearly six hours over icy roads, Santillan, who works in retail marketing, began to think something might be wrong, local news reports said.
His suspicion was confirmed when he arrived in Siglufjordur, a remote fishing village in northern Iceland that is roughly 270 miles from the airport and has a road named Laugarvegur.
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There, a woman told Santillan he was not in Reykjavik, which is about 45 minutes by bus from the airport at which Santillan arrived.
“I was very tired after the flight and wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible,” Santillan was quoted by Visir as saying. “That’s why I kept driving. I did enjoy the scenery on the way.”
He told the state broadcaster that he saw signs showing Reykjavik was in the other direction, but he had put his faith in the GPS.
Efforts to reach Santillan were unsuccessful.
But his unintended journey has captured the imagination of Iceland, and the people of Siglufjordur have embraced the American, who has since visited the local herring museum and tasted a favorite local delicacy, putrefied shark.
Some Icelandic news outlets have been tracking Santillan’s journey with the zeal usually accorded to visiting dignitaries.
Local media noted that Laugavegur was misspelled on many travel websites and that some locals also struggled with the name of the popular shopping street. In Santillan’s case, the name appears to have been misspelled on the booking confirmation he received.
Some Icelanders took to social media to applaud the serendipity of his trip.
“Love when tourists make the very best out of their wrong trip like Noel Santillan,” Rosa Katrin, an Icelandic lawyer, wrote on Twitter.