our airline overbooked our flight to iceland last year, and as a result of that we volunteered to extend our stay (not that extending a holiday is, like, the worst thing in the world, y’know). to ‘compensate’ us we were given free return flights to iceland, available for us to use anytime we wished. did i hear free? to one of my favourite places on earth? oh YES PLEASE!
last year we packed in some of the more popular icelandic sights and activities such as taking a dip in the blue lagoon, driving along the golden circle (which i keep calling the golden triangle), eating whale meat and lamb hot dogs and marvelling at the unique landscape of iceland during the entire duration of our road trip. *click* if you’re interested!
this year, the marvelling continued as we explored other parts of iceland we didn’t have time to cover last year.
oh hello dinosaur egg (?) at the airport!
at last count we must’ve driven past hveragerði greenhouse village in south iceland at least 4 times. the greenhouses are heated by hot water from volcanic hot springs. what do they cultivate in there? i have no idea, but i can tell you that you can cook an egg in the hot springs and eat that with bread made by using the geothermal ground as an oven. *badatushhhh* fun fact of the day.
cute icelandic horses, which are closer in size to ponies, with their heavy coats and thick, flowy manes.
we made our first stop at seljalandsfoss, one of the more famous waterfalls in iceland with a drop of 60 metres. this waterfall is special because you can walk behind it! but not before having to traverse icy paths.
it may look like water, but i can assure you (with a penguin walk and flailing arms) that this is pure, solid, slippery ice. talk about Walking on Thin Ice….
along the way we visited reynisfjara beach with its black sand and basalt columns. and the waves crashing to shore? only about as tall as me!
our ultimate destination that day was jökulsárlón, a beautiful glacier lagoon situated on the edge of vatnajökull national park that just takes your breath away. there is nothing like it. we arrived just as the sun had set, and with no lights around us could not really take decent photos of the mighty glaciers.
a second visit the next morning was in order. do not be fooled by the calm and serenity of the striking blue glaciers. behind the scenes i was battling crazy wind-swept hair, watery eyes and frozen nose, ears and fingertips! thank goodness for heating in the car, but did i forget to mention that the fuel tank was almost running on empty? oh the stuff of memorable road trips. hah.
during our 2-day road trip we drove along a few uniquely different landscapes- ranging from eerie out-of-this world black lava fields…..
…..to lush, green icelandic moss-covered lava plains and stone fields…..
…..to hot steam escaping from snow-covered grounds…..
…..and lastly, water on both sides of the road almost as high as the road we we were driving on to get to dyrholaey (where puffins nest in summer).
i was craving fresh salmon for some reason and i found the BEST smoked salmon i had ever eaten in my entire life. so good that i ended up devouring one in a day and bought 2 more to take with me back to london.
having heard and read so much about how horrible fermented shark tasted, i tried some at the local market. verdict? bah- just like salted fish used in chinese cooking, but with a somewhat strong hint of ammonia. *flicks hair.
the lights of reykjavik from our apartment window.
so by now we were on the 5th day of our 6 day-trip to iceland and still no sign of the northern lights.
but it all came together in the end because the solar flare event that had been predicted to occur a couple of days earlier finally happened and off we went to Chase the Northern Lights. i almost felt like storm chaser. only the thing we were chasing wouldn’t have a chance of killing us.
on the night we were out the northern lights were so weak that we would not have been able to tell with our naked eye. however it glowed like a shining green beacon on our camera! we decided to stay out a bit longer and luckily we did because it paid off! the lights started to dance for us…..
for the briefest of moments the sky was swathed in green, fringed with pink. what previously seemed like a static beam of light now started moving, expanding and contracting, dancing and gliding across the northern sky. sometimes it was like the sun’s rays, but in green lined with faint yellow spikes peering from behind the clouds. it was the Most Spectacular Light Show i’ve ever witnessed.
i cannot even begin to describe how bone-chillingly AMAZING it was to see the aurora borealis light up the northern hemisphere night sky in real life. having not had the best luck with weather whenever we traveled, i am ever so thankful that it all fell into place on the last day on one of our last trips in europe.
if you ever do decide to visit this part of the world i can only highly recommend iceland and its natural wonders. 🙂