Arrived in Iceland yesterday afternoon. The sun was setting as we flew towards the airport. Looking out the window of the plane, as we flew over Iceland, I was mesmerised by the landscape. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Being the middle of winter, It doesn’t start getting light until around 10am, so I left the hostel around then and wandered around Reykjavik for a couple of hours. It was amazing seeing the sun slowly coming up and lighting up the mountains across the harbour. Such an awesome sight. I came across a frozen lake and walked along it. Definitely not something I’ve ever had the chance to do before, so of course I felt the need to do so. Luckily it looked completely frozen solid. Slippery but fun.
It’s so cold in Iceland that I couldn’t handle more then a couple of hours of wandering around the city. I made it back to the hostel for a nap before heading to the hotel where the ‘Land of the Northern Lights’ tour that I’m going on the next few days starts from tomorrow morning. I ate a bowl of satay stir fry from Wok On. It felt so satisfying to get a hot meal into my belly. I tried not think of how much it cost!
Spent the evening relaxing and sorting out my luggage for the next few days of exploring Iceland.
I woke up this morning more excited for the buffet breakfast then anything else. Waiting for the tour bus to pick everyone up from the hotel, I got talking to a brother and sister and two friends, all who were from Adelaide and two friends who were from Perth. The bus left around 9.30am, yet it was still so dark out. We were driven around the town, stopped at the lutheran church and at the dome on top of a hill for views all over Reykjavik. We stood on the hill and watched the sun come up.
The bus then drove on away from the city, along the peninsula. We stopped in a fishing town for lunch. A buffet that involved a lot of fish. Very yum. From there we drove more along the southern region of Iceland. We stopped at a bridge that crossed between two tectonic plates. Next, at a cliff top with a lighthouse and ocean views. Then down the road to geothermal vents to get up close to steam coming from the ground at our feet.
Last stop for the day before heading to the cabins was the famous blue lagoon. One of my must see’s for this Icelandic adventure. It was amazing. Such a pretty blue and warm. 38 degrees warm! We put on mud masks and floated around the blue lagoon. Through the steam and under a massaging waterfall. So warm, so relaxed. I even had a green smoothie whilst in the water, continuing with the wellness vibe of the lagoon.
It was a 2 hour drive to the town of Hella where we will be staying in cabins the next two nights. I napped for most of the drive. The minimal daylight is messing with my head.
Dinner in the restaurant at the cabins was not cheap, but it was so good to have a burger and chips, especially after so many nights of eating salads from Aldi. I’ll be back to eating healthy when the trip is over. A group of us wandered over to the servo for snacks for the night. Neg 3 degrees, yet I still got myself an ice-cream for dessert. An hour into the lecture on the Northern Lights and we were all getting eager to get out and looking for the them.
All rugged up with cameras set up on tripods and snacks at the ready, we huddled around outside watching the sky. We lasted almost 2 hours. Around 11.45pm we called it a night. A bit disappointed but hopefully tomorrow night is the night for the lights.
Time for a hot shower to get some feeling back into my body again!
Oh My Goodness! I can’t contain my excitement! I finally saw (and photographed) the Northern Lights!! And I was the one who first spotted the Aurora! I was out photographing the stars and the Milky Way, taking advantage of the clear sky, whilst keeping an eye out for the aurora, when I started to suspect something was going on in the sky in the spot we were told to expect the aurora to appear. After half an hour of taking 30sec exposures of that area of the sky, to see what my camera could pick up that my eyes couldn’t, I decided I would call it and that it definitely was the northern lights, so I went and alerted the others. I then spent another half an hour photographing and watching this natural phenomenon get stronger. It wasn’t as I expected but still something so amazing to witness. Froze my fingers, nose and toes, but so worth it.
Now I’ll backtrack and give a run down of the second day of the tour, exploring more of the South of Iceland.
The day started, yet again, in the pitch black. After a late night and an early start and it still being so dark, I couldn’t help myself but nap on the bus. The first stop was an Icelandic greenhouse that grows delicious tomatoes and next door to that was a stable with Icelandic horses. All the horses in the country are pure Icelandic horses, never interbred. They’re also special as they have 5 gaits, different to regular horses. Next stop of the day, once it was a lot lighter out, were the Geysers. There was a large once that went up approximately every 5 minutes. I stood out in the freezing cold, feeling my fingers go numb so that I could watch it shoot up in the air a few times. This was so I could get photos and video of the Geyser. Also because it was so awesome to see it just erupt up into the air right in front of me. We also had enough time to eat lunch in the area. Most of us sat down in the soup bar to warm up our tummies and hands with delicious and healthy soup. Before getting back on the bus I wandered around, taking in more of the beautiful mountain views. I just can’t get over how beautiful and surreal the Icelandic landscape is!
Drove further on through the Golden Circle to see the thunderous power of the Gullfoss Falls, otherwise known as the Golden Falls. Absolutely magnificent. And once again, so so cold whilst checking it out, mostly due to the chilling winds whipping about. Finished the day with a drive and a walk through the National Park. I’d love to hike through there in the summer time. Filming locations for Game of Thrones were pointed out and it was so easy to see why Iceland was used for the show. We walked through the crack between two tectonic plates and took in amazing views of the National Park as the sky and land were bathed in pink.
I feel so happy that I finally got to witness the Aurora Borealis. After it eventually stopped getting stronger and started to disappear again we all warmed up in the communal hall with hot chocolates and cookies. Sitting around chatting as we thawed out. True to form, on the way back to my cabin before heading over to get my hot chocolate I slipped over on a large patch of ice, landing hard on my back and butt. I was more concerned for my camera then myself though!
Last proper day in Iceland and on the tour. I woke feeling decently rested after last night’s excitement of finally seeing the Northern Lights. Once again we set off while it was still so dark out. Unavoidable during an Icelandic winter. We stopped at a waterfall just as the sky was starting to lighten, luckily there were lights to light up the waterfall ad surrounds. Then a quick stop to take photos of the Volcano that erupted back in 2010 and halted air travel for a week. Taken though an Icelandic history museum with a two headed lamb and an open air museum, before eating lunch and a steep climb with many steps to the top of a waterfall that supposedly has buried treasure hidden behind it. Well worth the breathlessness and jelly legs for the breath-taking views of the waterfall from above and of the landscape surrounding us. Heading back down wasn’t so fun thanks to my fear of heights kicking in yet again.
From there we drove on further to the Glacier. Some people on the tour got all prepped to go ice walking on the Glacier. The rest of us hiked right to the start of the ice cap but not onto it. To get to the Ice Cap we had to walk over a frozen laze, picking up random pieces of ice along the way. It wasn’t ice the way we know it. The ice cap is a lovely blue but covered in volcanic dirt due to all the shifting. Unfortunately the glaciers are retreating so I felt very fortunate to get to see one up close and touch the ice too.
We left the ice walkers for their ice walk on the glacier and continued on to a black sand beach. Don’t stand too close to the rocks, don’t stand too close to the waters edge, don’t turn your back on the ocean when near it, don’t go in to the water or put your hand in the water. And I thought Australia’s nature was out to kill me! We drove past beautiful snowy mountains, backed by pastle pink and blue skies, bathing everything in soft light. A quick pit stop in a town for a quick snack break before picking u the ice walkers from the glacier.
On to our final destination….Reykjavik. We arrived at the hotel in town to discover all of our rooms have been upgraded. A big room all to myself. Definitely going to enjoy a nice hot bath later after having dinner with friends. One last night in a room of my own.
This entire adventure, both Germany and Iceland, over the past 3 weeks has truly been one experience after another. I’ve loved every moment of it! The places I’ve been, the people I’ve meet, the things I’ve seen. Life is an adventure and I plan to experience as much as I can.