Iceland: The Northern Lights

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1st January, bucket list ticked, The Northern Lights!

The Northern Lights has been something on my bucket list since I caught the travel bug (2011, tripping across North America’s southern states) and I read in Wanderlust this year that the solar flares were going to be at their most active – so seemed like it was meant to be!

I originally booked the Northern Lights Mystery Tour (with Iceland Excursions) on our 2nd night in Iceland, but after reading an article, again in Wanderlust magazine, apparently it’s quite cloudy in January in Iceland! So I changed the booking to the 1st as they offered another trip free of charge if you didn’t see the lights – however, the luck was in our favour and we were treated to nature’s beautiful light show.

After having a look around Reykjavik and sorting our hotel room (more on that in a later post!) we had a much needed nap setting our alarm for 6pm. At 6pm we headed down to the reception desk to check if our Northern Lights tour was still on and it was! We were picked up by coach at our hotel, and then taken  into town – to the Iceland Excursions office –  whilst they filled up as many coaches as they could with eager bucketlist ticking touristst. Once we got on our way, about an hour after being picked up, Grundt (well that was the shorter versions of the long icelandic name) – our guide – told us all about how the Icelanders celebrate Christmas and New Year – with a special apple and malt soft drink called Christmas Ale, and watching speeches made by the President – who, like Britain’s Queen, only as a formal role, where as the Prime Minister has all the power.

We were told that by looking to the left we might be able to start seeing the starts of the lights – but unfortunately, my boyfriend and I were sat on the right side of the coach – damn! We drove for an hour to head to a southern beach where are chances of seeing the lights were high. We were then told that we should take photos of the sky as our camers could pick up the lights more effectively than our eyes, which turned out to be true! I took more than enough photos of the sky just to see the green light shining across it on my camera screen. Some faint lights did soon become visible, only faint greens and white, but soon the lights became alive when one huge streak became an active bright green colour and everyone shouted out in awe. It really was a thing of beauty. I wish I could have taken some great photos but it was so windy that it was impossible for me to keep me camera still – especially with a long exposure. The sky however was quite static, and although the light did twist and shift gradually, this light didn’t move in waves like they sometimes d0, but that’s the lights for you – unpredictable.

We stayed outside for a while looking up at the stunning creation, but then we both reached the point where it was so cold and windy it was starting to make our bodies ache, so we headed into a cabin which was nearby. The cafe was beautiful, with big windows so you could still see the lights and the roof looked like the bottom of a boat. In here, my boyfriend and I warmed up with some traditional icelandic lobster soup – which I will admit, wasn’t a favourite of mine, it was very rich, creamy and cheesy (and I don’t like cheese!). I did however very much enjoy my Irish Cream hot chocolate  – even if we did pay about £20 for the soup and drinks! We headed back out just before it was time to get back on the coach and was surprised to see the sky was still lit up with that beautiful green colour, and we wished each other a happy new year.

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I’ll be writing a blog post all about my time in Reykjavik and The glorious Golden Circle Tour and the magnificent Blue Lagoon soon, so keep an eye out!

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