When I was little, my dream was to become an astronaut. Might sound off base, but I was always fascinated by the beauty of our surroundings, from the tiniest molecules to the vast ever expanding universe. Witnessing the Northern Lights took me back to the ‘little me’ and to her dream. It was beautiful. Late October 2015, my friend and I,were pressed on time, but managed to plan our trip to Iceland. The first tricky bit was to attain the visa through Denmark’s embassy in limited time,and the second bit was convincing my parents to give me the go-ahead. Both turned out pretty smooth!
Island of fire and Ice!
In this article I will provide tips and go to places if you do decide to go.
What are the Northern lights?
As can be found through many explanatory sources, the northern lights occur when electrically charged particles projected from the sun collide with the gaseous particles of the earth’s atmosphere. This phenomenon causes a beautiful display of bright, colorful dancing lights.
It is said that the best season to observe the northern lights in Iceland is from September to mid-April as these months exhibit full dark nights, which is an important factor.Furthermore I would like to add, that in order to be able to see the Aurora lights, the sky has to be very clear on a night succeeding a day free of rain or snow.
As we landed, I was a bag filled with mixed emotions, I didn’t know what to expect. The route from the airport to the hotel was a little odd, the town was empty, dark and terribly cold. We reached by midnight, and we were told that the sun usually shines for only 3 to 5 hours each day. This was very unusual for us, but pleasant. First thing I usually do when I get to the hotel, is to ask the management wheretosafekeep my passport. Much to my surprise, the receptionist said that I may leave it anywhere, and that there is no safe box in the rooms, as the place has a reputation of very high safety standards. In deed I now testify to her statement, as the people were extremely friendly and genuinely nice. We felt very safe all through out the trip.
I was in luck when we first got there! Before checking in to our room, I ran up to the rooftop to take a deep fresh breath, and right there while my hands still helt the door handle to prevent the door from shutting, I was in absolute ore! In front of my eyes, danced and sang, the Aurora lights! I could not stop smiling. A smile turned to a humorous laughter, when my best friend, Tzessica almost slipped as she rushed to grab her camera to catch the magical moment. Sadly, however, by the time she got back, the display had already gone, and unfortunately that time was the last, for us, to have had observed the dancing rays because of the weather conditions. As such, I strongly urge you, to stop wherever you are and seize the moment if you come across it because it only lasts for a few minutes.
Nonetheless, there are loads of fantastic activities to experience and beautiful scenes to see and it’s always best to think of seeing the northern lights as an added bonus rather than the prime purpose. Below is a brief list of the places I was privileged to visit in just 5 days.
Day 1 : Exploring Reykiavik, the capital of Iceland
This beautiful unique church is situated in the center of the capital. It is amongst the tallest and most recognizable buildings in the country. Its architecture was inspired by the Black Falls – another Icelandic natural wonder. At the top, a viewing deck offers a panoramic view of the city and its neighboring mountains.
A must see once in the capital.
Day 2 :
The gorgeous waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in the country and is located in the canyon of the Hvitariver in southwest Iceland. The river flows southward onto a wide curved three-step “staircase’ before it plunges 32 meters down. There are no rails around the edges and as such the powerful scene is beautifully natural and mesmerizingly virgin.
With a 60 m drop, Seljalandsfoss is another Icelandic wonder and one the countrie’s most infamous waterfalls. This destination is particularly attractive to visitors because of the feature that allows them to walk behind it into a small cave.
Day 3 :
Hundreds of thousand of years of underground volcanic activities coupled with geological formations and characteristics have given birth to many scattered geysers, underground springs and thermal pools. Seeing geyser shoot up for the last time, was as exiting for me as the first time.
Later that day, we stopped by a thriving tomato family farm. Like many other greenhouse farms in Iceland, this heated greenhouse farm was powered by geothermal energy. Every thing about it was extremely fresh and natural. We got a very warm welcome by the family operating it and were offered a tomato soup. It might sound like I’m exaggerating, but this was literally the best tomato soup I have ever tried.
Day 4 :
The fourth day’s preceding night, Tzesika woke up at midnight craving pizza, and as room service don’t operate at night time, we went out for a night meal. The following morning we over slept and as people are very punctual in Iceland we had missed the bus. Fortunately that day for us, we were able to arrange with a driver to take us around. A very peaceful day it turned out to be. En route to the coast of the Atlantic ocean we had all the time to admire the beauty of this fascinating land. I was particularly captivated by the Icelandic horses, which were distinguishable and different than Arabic stallions.
Our first stop was at the Skogafoss heart shape waterfall
“According to legend, the first Viking settler in the area, ÞrasiÞórólfsson, buried a treasure in a cave behind the waterfall. A local boy found the chest years later, but was only able to grasp the ring on the side of the chest before it disappeared again.”
Our final destination of the day was the southern coast of the Atlantic Ocean, the world’s second largest Ocean. The vast ocean covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s surface. The overwhelming magnitude and force of the Ocean is complemented by the beauty of the black sand and pebble beach at the southernmost settlement in Iceland, near the town of Vik I Myrdal.
Day 5 :
Blue Lagoon Spa
The customary time that visitors tend to spend in the Lagoon itself is roughly 2 hours. After which the visitor can enjoy a lunch or dinner at the Blue Café or the Lava restaurant. Overall the average time spent ranges from 3 to 5 hours. Some like to book a massage, but it is recommended that you book it in advance not to be caught up by the lack of vacancies.
At arrival to the spa, you will be given a pretty intense induction and will be instructed to take a shower before you go into the communal pool for hygienic purposes. It is advised that you coat your hair with conditioner and then cover it with a shower cap, because although the minerals are very beneficial for skin, they can cause your hair to tangle. However when I got out, my hair was surprisingly soft and pretty easy to comb.
The lagoon is designed for relaxed bathing. You can swim gently around its warm and cloudy water. Diving is prohibited.
I would recommend leaving the Spa experience for the last day. The Blue Lagoon Spa offers a great package, whereby the customer would be picked up from the hotel to the Spa location. After a day of pampering at the Spa, the customer would then be dropped off at the airport to conclude their journey and make their way back.