Thursday 2 November 2017
A long journey to Iceland consisting of three trains, a monorail, bus ride, flight and two more buses. The flight to Iceland from the UK may be short, but the connections are loooong! At the duty free I stocked up on Viking beer and Icelandic chocolate, which somehow cost nearly £100. The cutest thing was that upon arrival the marketing posters said "Welcome Home", and I really did feel it.
Our first Northern Lights tour was cancelled. I was somewhat relieved to be able to have a good nights sleep ready for the early alarm the next day for the first tour of the trip.
Friday 3 November 2017
Today is our journey to the South Coast. The tour guide was full of local information which he delivered throughout most of the driving. The South Coast consists of glaciers, waterfalls, the gorgeous black sand beaches, finished off by a beautiful island sunset.
The northern lights tour is on! Unfortunately not enough visibility to get decent photographs, but a wonderful night nonetheless.
Saturday 4 November 2017
I always suggest taking a day off between day trips. Something that allows you to catch up on sleep and go at your own pace rather than be on a timetable. So today we decided to explore Reykjavik. And apparently discover that one day pigeons will rule us all...
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, we assumed a scarf would be all the extras we would need. We were so wrong.
We went outside and began to walk to another area we hadn't explored yet. I was still happily taking pictures but soon it became so bad that I couldn't even get my phone out. We decided to get some food and make our way back to the hotel.
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. The rest os us slowly becoming saturated as the waterproofness was becoming too pounded by rain.
We made it to one of the Gló venues - my favourite restaurant. Despite being the only ones in there, we ate with British pride as our clothes dripped around us. I'm not sure if the Icelandic people would have respect or shame for us at this point. As we opened the door to leave, the wind practically knocked us back inside. It had become much worse.
Coming back to the highway, I had the silly idea of trying to see if the wind could catch my coat and blow me towards the hotel. The wind did catch my coat, and blew me towards the traffic. Trevor caught me, pulled me back and I did not play that game anymore. It was genuinely scary and one You Tubs search will show you how much worse that could have been. We spent the rest of that day and evening drying our clothes. This is why I recommend back ups!
Monday 6 November 2017
Today is the Golden Circle with snowmobile on a glacier tour! My first time on a glacier. 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 padded suits, and a helmet. I've never worn one before and was surprised how it gripped my neck. 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 also 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 that 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 wanted to take 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 thinking there was no way we would see him again this trip.
Wednesday 8 November 2017
It was a day trip yesterday which means semi-chill day today. The decision? Blue Lagoon day! I've been wanting to go here for a while and finally took the plunge (teehee). It costs a lot of money to go here but for me it was 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. There is also conditioner in the showers. Coat your hair in this and pin it up before going into the lagoon. I also reapplied every time I used the bathroom.
The Lagoon is hot! Although not as hot as the natural springs. The heaters dotted around pump out more heat at intervals. There is a bar so you can have a glass of wine as you swan about. The bar has a three drink limit so people don't get drunk, and you pay for everything with a wristband so there's no need for money. There are free silica face masks which really make your skin so soft. You can apply as many as you like throughout the day.
There are a lot of instagram models in the lagoon, but also plenty of quieter areas you can go to escape the cameras. If you want to take pictures, take a waterproof cover and use your mobile if possible. The lagoon can be very busy.
We had a northern lights trip booked for that evening, and it wasn't cancelled - whoop! So our lounge in blue waters had to end after a short 6 hours. 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 and allowed every bit of stress and ache to leave my body.
The rest of the evening is documented in another blog post. But I will also touch upon it here since it was a huge event to happen.
We were picked up in a coach 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 he didn't reply. 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.
The driver continued to drive without a word, and rerouted directly to our hotel despite that area not being suitable for coaches. I could have kissed him. Upon arriving at our hotel, we ran to get ready and luckily because I am organised I was first to finish. I suggested that I go outside to make sure that as soon as the mini bus arrived, it would at least find one of us.
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 yelled up the stairs to my partner shouting "They're here!".
The hotel chef also spotted them and yelled to everyone else nearby the entrance of the hotel. Upon arriving outside, fellow travellers screamed and yelled in delight and shock. It was insane.
Once they began to die down, the minibus arrived. We're stood there with tripod, cameras looking dazed, and no one on the minibus had seen a thing it seemed. We decided not to spoil it by telling them what they had missed. The tour was uneventful. I photographed some stars and we 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! The lights started up once again, further away this time but still beautiful. We took more photographs until the show took another break.
Thursday 9 November 2017
The last day in Reykjavik for this trip. What could beat last night? I wanted to go for a special final dinner at Gló. There I had an incredible vegan lasagne which came with three different salads. We rambled about the city centre, enjoying the last of this beautiful and unusual place. As we returned to the hotel it began to snow.
Friday 1o November 2017
Flight day. The flights back to the UK are at an hour which means we have to have a 4am alarm. At least the transfers are long and allow some snooze on the way.
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. It was the tour guide that told us he would see us again before we left Iceland! He said that this is why all of Iceland feel like one big family.
As we left, I really felt that.