I am back from another trip to Iceland. Actually, my mind is coming back, my body is here, my spirit is still in Iceland. So, I shall continue on with the recount of the events of my trip.
Thursday 2 November 2017
My boyfriend and I took the long journey to Iceland. Three trains, a monorail, a short bus, flight and then another two buses. The flights are short, but in total it took us many hours to make the journey. We stocked up on Viking beer and Icelandic chocolate at duty free, spending over £80 each. The boyfriend had a crash course in how much things actually cost in Iceland. The cutest thing was that upon arrival the marketing posters said “Welcome Home”, and I really did feel it.
Our Northern Lights tour was cancelled that night. I was somewhat relieved to have the chance for a good sleep in preparation for the next day.
Friday 3 November 2017
Today was our journey to the South Coast. Our tour guide was full of local information which he delivered throughout most of the driving. This gorgeous picture below is of Seljalandsfoss. One of Icelands many beautiful waterfalls. Later on we went on our first Northern Lights tour. My boyfriend discovered that he was able to take photos using his mobile phone – previously unheard of. All while I was taking awful overexposed pictures on my fancy camera. The guides advice didn’t help. He just kept telling my to adjust my manual settings, none of which made a scrap of difference. Then a girl from another group suggested I just try auto. I did and got some fairly good pictures!
Saturday 4 November 2017
Today was our day to explore Reykjavik. We got rather lost on the way there as well as the way back. We stumbled across many, many gift shops, drank chai and thankfully made it back to the hotel before it began to get too dark and cold.
Sunday 5 November 2017
This was the day of the first storm of the winter in Iceland. Our tour for today had to be rescheduled because of it. You would think this would be an indication of how bad the storm would be, but being British as we are, we assumed a scarf would be all the extras we would need. We were so wrong. We even overheard a man at breakfast, discussing the impending storm with the chef.
Regardless, we set out to explore an area near their shopping mall. Our goal was to eventually have dinner at Gló. After some exploring, the storm was ramping up. We decided that we needed to get our dinner and get home soonish. As we made our way to the highway the winds really started to pick up in speed. By this time we were soaked to the bone on our legs. We made it to Gló and had the best dinner. It was amazing. We had a salad bowl, which consisted of so much variety, and was huge. After dinner we opened the door to leave and was shocked by how much more windy it was. We made our way back to the highway and I began to turn it into a game, letting the wind catch my coat and blow me towards home. At one point it blew me towards the cars. Luckily Trevor pulled me back and I was not allowed to play that game anymore 🙁
We made it home in one piece.
Monday 6 November 2017
Today was our Golden Circle with Snowmobile on a glacier tour! How exciting. We were picked up and taken to the place where we were to be collected by our tour guide. My mouth fell open as I witnessed what was in front of me. A massive monster truck and a tiny Icelandic female driver. This was to be our first and only female guide, and a badass at that. We began the tour very tamely, taking in the scenic stops along the way. Then we began to drive out into the wilderness. A very snowy and rocky wilderness. A place where there are yellow sticks spaced equal distances on the side of the road, designed for explaining vision.
“How far can you see?”
“Two sticks today”
We arrived at base camp and were instructed to put on these onesie padded suits, and a helmet. I’ve never worn one before and was surprised how it gripped my neck. I waddled around having on way too many layers. Lesson here is not to overdress. Yes it’s cold but after a certain point, more layers just make bulk. Not at any point was I ever actually cold as the layers I wore were very good at insulating.
We then drove out to the snowmobiles. After a quick lesson and a safety lecture, we saddled up and away we went. Wow. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to describe the snowmobiling itself. I was a passenger so was able to take in everything around us. It’s like having a motorbike on skis. Very comfortable, yet felt like you could fall off at any moment. The vision around us was pure white. The odd rock that you could see not entirely covered in snow was the only thing visible in the landscape. We were effectively in the clouds. The air around us veiled anything that we could potentially see.
After 25 minutes of driving we were signalled to park up. The guides had a secret for us. We padded down a snowy hill to some wooden steps leading further into the snow. As we went into this cave, we began to see, it was an ice cave. We were going inside the glacier itself. It was an incredible sight. I laid down on the snow and looked up at the thick ice ceiling. Such a strange sight. It was all so fragile and yet so safe at the same time. We spent time touching the ice in wonder. Being told about the cave and having a nice ice-bathe. Then it was time to continue on.
We saddled up again and returned to the drop off point and then to base camp for hot drinks and biscuits. I gazed out of the window of the warm glacier cabin and wondered what it would be like to live there. I can only imagine.
Tuesday 7 November 2017
Snæfellsness tour today. Our tour guide this day was so lovely and funny. He taught us about the polar bears that come to Iceland. They get shot, which initially sounds awful and sad. But he continued to explain that they do this for two reasons. One is to protect the people and their animals. The second is because if they pick up any infections from Iceland, and they are taken back to their home, they risk making the other polar bears ill.
We also learnt about relationship culture in Iceland. Marriage is much rarer there. If relationships no longer work out, couples are more likely to split up far sooner. It is not uncommon for mothers to have children from a few different fathers. This adds to the whole big family feel that Iceland is. They say the people are connected by 2° rather than the commonly known 6°.
After seeing all our amazing sights around the Snæfellsness peninsula, our tour guide took us to a cafe for coffee. Only it had temporarily become a movie set! He took us elsewhere and told us all “I will see you again before you leave”. Because Iceland is so small and people can’t escape each other. We shook his hand, thanked him for the time and went our merry way.
Wednesday 8 November 2017
Blue Lagoon day! I’ve been wanting to go here for a while and finally took the plunge (get it?). It costs a lot of money to go here BUT I can now say it’s totally worth it. At this point of the trip I was pretty tired and in much need of a day of relaxation.
Icelanders shower naked before entering any pool. There are private showers at the Lagoon so you can avoid showering naked in front of others if you don’t want to. Just wrap yourself in a towel and hang your bathing suit over the door of the shower to put on when you are done. There is a rack for your towel so you can wrap up once again before going back to your locker when you are done.
The Lagoon is hot! There are heaters all around which pump out more heat at intervals. There is a bar so you can have a drink of prosecco as you swan about. There is a three drink limit so people don’t get drunk, and you pay for everything with a wristband so there’s no cheating. There are free silica face masks which really make your skin so soft.
A word of warning, this place attracts posers. I saw so many people with mobile phones, many of them not in waterproof covers. So many selfie sticks. You can escape all of it if you want to. Keep swimming about and you’ll find an area with very few people, very quiet and almost no phones. That’s where I resided for most of the time. I also visited the steam room, the sauna, and a waterfall.
In total we spent 6 hours there. I have no idea how we managed that. We did take a short break for some food in between it all. There was just something beautiful about the lounging, the heat, the drinks, and the changes in the light that just made it all so comfortable. We managed to stay until dusk but then had to make a move for that evenings light show.
Here is gets weird. We were picked up from the Blue Lagoon to make our way back to the bus station, where we would then get a minibus to the hotel. However the coach driver began to drop off some of the passengers first, which meant our travel time was getting much longer than predicted. The coach driver came around after 1.5 hours to double check the destinations of those who were left. I told him we had a Northern Light tour booked at 2100, it was now 2035. He said it was looking really tight. I asked him if we would miss the tour, to which silence followed. He went to the wheel and rerouted directly to our hotel. I could have kissed him. I emailed the tour company who were running the lights tour that evening telling them we were delayed. They responded to promise to collect us last. Upon arriving at our hotel, we fled to get ready and outside in time for our later pick up. We managed to get ready surprisingly fast. So I told my boyfriend that I would flee outside to ensure I was visible for the pick up.
Upon arriving outside the hotel I was greeted by waves of green lights… THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!! They were right above my head and the strongest I’d ever seen them. I froze for a moment, then stuck my head into the front door of the hotel to call my boyfriend downstairs. The chef came outside and called everyone else outside. For ten minutes the lights waved and rippled across the sky in a few colours. The people screamed and yelled in delight and shock. I shot as many pictures as I could as did my boyfriend. It was incredible.
The show began to die down followed a few minutes later by the minibus arriving to take us on the formal Northern Light tour. We couldn’t bear to tell anyone we had just seen an incredible display, whilst they were all driving around. We continued on the tour. Took some pictures of the stars and then returned to the hotel.
Once back at the hotel we decided to change into our pyjamas, get a couple of beers, throw a coat on and go out onto the balcony. We felt it just wasn’t over. And it wasn’t! Less strong than before but still obvious, the Northern Lights rippled again across the sky for us. We stood in our pyjamas having the best time. Taking more pictures and getting a little drunk. It was absolutely amazing and such a perfect day.
Thursday 9 November 2017
Our last day in Reykjavik. We utilised the hotel receptionist and got into town for no cost. We visited a few large buildings, and then discovered a gift shop street that appeared to be much cheaper than the street next to it. For our last main meal in Iceland, we agreed to return to Gló. I had the vegan lasagne which came with three salads, as well as huge amounts of water. We rambled about, enjoying the last of this beautiful and unusual city. as we returned to the hotel, it began to snow. Lots of snow. It didn’t give up. We made it back in time to remain dry and warm.
Friday 1o November 2017
Flight day. What a sad day. We awoke very early to arrive to the airport on time. Within seconds of me walking into duty free, I lost my boyfriend. I hunted all over and eventually found him with a huge smile on his face. Having realised he’d lost me, he had sat down to call me to find out where I was. As he did that he was greeted by a familiar face. The tour guide! He recounted that he had told us that he would see us again before we left Iceland. How cute! He said he felt the family feel that was common to Icelanders. We then boarded the plane to leave our beautiful temporary home.
Our trip was very magical. We saw everything we wanted to see. To follow – posts on how to maximise your trip to Iceland. Help with packing. I will also do a whole post dedicated to the Northern Lights.
Thank you for coming on this journey with me 🙂