Back to our LOOOOONNGGGG first day which included arriving in Iceland after an 8-9 hr flight from Los Angeles, we booked ourselves to go on a tour of the Northern Lights. To many of us, it’s the infamous green lights that are famous in Iceland. Few things to note about viewing or chasing the Northern Lights:
a. only visible between mid to end of Sept to March or April
b. no guarantees that it will be visible
We made a decision to book the NL on our first day, so in case it’s not visible on our first day, we will have another opportunity to rebook over the next few nights.
The Gray Line tour bus picked us up around 9pm. The bus was full by the time we all made it on the road. There was a tour guide who provided background info about the Northern Lights. She also gave us a bit of a history of what we’re about to see. Plus, if we happen NOT to see the NL, we had two years to rebook…..comforting, but we were optimistic that we’d see it tonight. Oh and she gave us the scale of seeing the Auroras….it was a 3 that night, a good chance.
It took about an hour drive to get us to where we’d hope to see the aurora. There were nearly 8-10 buses, yet it didn’t feel exactly crowded. As we walked away from the buses, Nancy and I found a spot to set our camera’s tripod. It was a very clear night…..I was already happy just to see the stars. Up ahead in the distance, I saw what looked like a grey hazy formation…..it started to turn green….Aurora Borealis. It wasn’t exactly a magnificent display, but hey, it was the Northern Lights.
If there was one thing Nancy and I didn’t do, it was learning how to work our camera. We have a DSLR, and only use the Auto mode. So we tried to play with settings…..some good pictures, but we had mostly so-so outcome. I decided to just enjoy the moment and watched the sky. We stood there nearly an hour. Once we headed back to the bus, the driver yelled, “Light, light!” There was even more display of the Northern Lights. Ahhhhhh!!! That was beautiful. We attempted to take a dozen more pictures, and then it was time to go. We got home past midnight. We didn’t go to bed until 2am, and we need to get up early to make it to our 8am pick-up for the Golden Circle tour. I’ll share the NL pics when I get home. I brought the wrong cable to transfer the pics to my MacBook Air.
Day 2 – Thursday
You know that scene from Home Alone when the McAllister clan woke up late to get to the airport? Well, that pretty much summed up our Thursday morning. We all woke up at 8:52am……we slept through our alarm clocks. I looked at my phone, and there was a text from Your Day Tours company at 8:22am – they waited for us. I texted back, but they were way gone. I called the person who texted me back, her name was Sola. She told me that they were already driving around the mountains, but she would see what she could do. A few minutes later, Breki, called me and informed me of a back-up plan. He instructed us to meet him outside, to find a Gray Jeep and that we’d catch Sola’s bus. Breki was there within 5-7 minutes….we got everything ready, changed to our clothes, and went down to Center Hotel Plaza (a one-minute walk from our apartment).
Your Day Tours went over and beyond
First of all, it was clearly our mistake for missing the bus pickup. We thanked Breki for making this happen. We had no clue how far of a catch-up he’d have to drive. It was probably close to an hour’s drive for us to catch Sola. She and the rest of the tour group were just finishing up their morning snack. Your Day Tours, thank you! Amazing! We are ever so thankful. They went over and beyond.
The rest of the day was spent visiting the Golden Circle. First stop was Gulfoss Waterfalls. It took another hour drive from when we joined the tour group.What surprised me most was the easy access from the main road. We entered the parking lot, and bam, there was Gulfoss. Just beautiful. The cascading water was quite powerful, it added to the cold morning temperature.
After about an hour at Gulfoss, we turned around and went to Geysir for a chance to walk around the park. We had an opportunity to catch the geyser burst….that was fascinating. This stop also gave us the opportunity to eat our lunch.
Finally, it was time to head to Þingvellir National Park. Upon approaching the park, I saw another waterfalls hiding behind a big wall. We walked that way, while the rest of the group walked the other way. So glad we did. I really enjoyed being near Oxararfoss Falls….so close, so majestic. Beautiful.
That’s about it….that was our Golden Circle tour. On our way back to Reykjavik, Sola passed by Hallgrímskirkja, and I told our group that we might as well get off at this stop. We took pictures of this towering church building, and had a very late lunch across the street at Cafe Loki….and had the most wonderful Icelandic food.
We decided to make our way down to the nearest Bonus supermarket, bought a few items and had dinner at Noodle Station.
Finally, we walked towards Harpa Concert Hall, it was a 15-minute walk. The Hall was brightly lit with flashing lights, perfect opportunity to take pictures.
That was our Day Two….we are exhausted. Fitbit says: 17,232 steps today.