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Published: August 26th 2018
I had been to Iceland before in late spring, but I really want to see the country in winter time. Mainly to see the Northern Lights, but also because I really enjoy the cold weather and because it has been quite a while since I have seen proper snow. I decided to fly out on New Years Day since I found some pretty cheap tickets and I went for 4 days in total. When I arrived in Reykjavik in the late afternoon it was already getting dark. I walked to the hostel from the bus station when it started snowing. I felt like a little kid again walking around the snow catching snow flakes.
My hostel was right in the city center. After dropping off my bag in the room I went out to the Big Lebowski Bar to meet up with some fellow travellers from the Couchsurfing community. I got chatting with one of the girls who was travelling around the world and she was telling me about her trip to the Glacier Lagoon Jokulsarlon in the East of Iceland. This sounded pretty exciting so I booked a day tour for the next day. Since the bus would pick
me up pretty early the next day I decided to leave the bar around 9pm to get some sleep in. At least that was the plan. I shared the room with 5 other people and when I got there, no one else was in yet, so got ready for bed and dozed off. Around midnight I woke got woken up hearing some noise from the bed next to me. First I thought the person next to me had a bad dream or something, but then I heard a second person and realised they probably were getting it on under the blanket. Thanks God it was too dark to see anything, but the noised they were making spoke for itself. After a while they started on the dirty talk and that went on for a while. Part of me wanted to tell them to cut it out, but then they guy in the bed above me took care of that.
In the end I managed to get a little bit of sleep before I had to get up at 5.30 in the morning. Very tired I got ready and made my way down stairs where two other people were already
waiting or the bus. It was still very dark and snowing pretty heavely. The bus turned up just after 6am and we were on our way to pick up a couple more people before heading East. It was a really long drive and most of it would be in the dark. The sun would only come out around 11.00 ish and I couldn't make out the road ahead of us. The driver was making jokes about not being sure if he was even on the road anymore because it all looked the same covered in snow. Our first stop would be at Seljalandsfoss and then we would head down to Skógafoss. I had seen both waterfalls in spring before, but now everything was covered in snow which was absolutely beautiful to look at. We only stopped about 20 minutes at each waterfall to take pictures and by the time we stopped for lunch in the village of Vik the sun had already reached it highest point and started setting again. I was a little bit concerned that we would not make it to the lagoon before sunset because we where only half way there.
Unfortunately I was right and
due to more heavy snowfalls the bus had to slow down and it took a lot longer than planned to get to our final destination. When arrived just before 4pm they sun was almost gone and by the time everyone had gotten off the bus and walked down to the lagoon it was pitch black. I tried to take pictures of the ice bergs that broke off and floated from the lagoon into the sea but I could only make out a few shimmers that might have been ice blogs. When walking around the lagoon I had to be very careful not to fall in as I could not see where I was going. A couple of people were clever enough to bring flashlights but even then there was no way of taking any proper pictures. After about 20 minutes our bus driver decided we should go back because we had a long drive ahead of us. This trip was such a big disappointment and very poor planned, that the tour company decided to give us half our money back. The return trip was even longer than then getting there and by the time we made it back to Reykjavik
it was past midnight.
After this disappointing adventure I decided to whale watching the next day. It was a really nice day, cold but the sky was clear .The boat would go out just before noon and we send about 4 hours on the water. The wind was picking up when we left the harbour and we headed for the open water, unfortunately we did not get to see any whales not even a dolphin. When we got back to the harbour we all received a voucher for the next trip which I gave to a friend who would visit Iceland later that year, hoping she had more luck. The rest of the day I spent visiting local art museums and getting ready for a northern lights tour in the evening.
The bus for the Northern Lights tour picked us up around 8pm from the hostel. It was about an hour drive to a place a little further up North away from the city lights of Reykjavik. We were told the conditions to see the Northern Lights were perfect, the sky was clear and there had been some solar activities the last couple of days. Once we got
to a place away from the city we got off the bus and walked into a field. Our group was pretty big around 50 people and I kinda regretted to join such a popular group, because it didn't feel right. Everyone was chatting away and it was pretty loud around me, too loud to actually enjoy this activity. We stood in the field for about an hour and even though I was pretty wrapped up and was wearing thick socks I could barley feel my toes anymore. While I didn't get to to see he Northern Lights that night I did get to see a beautiful night sky. Up to that point I had not seen that many stars in my life, which I thought was pretty amazing.
On my last day I decided to get up early to go for a swim at a local pool. At 6am sharp I made my way to the swimming pool unfortunately I could only find an indoor pool opening up that early. The pool was almost empty and after doing a couple of rounds I decided to warm up in the outdoor hot tube. To my surprise while the pool was
almost empty the outdoor spa was not. So I joined the group of mainly older Icelandic man, who tried to make conversation with me in Icelandic. I was a rather interesting experience.
Later that morning I met up with two fellow couchsurfers for a little road trip to Borganes just North of Reykjavik. The drive up was really pretty, all the mountains were covered in snow and there were barely an other cars. We stopped at a little town called Akranes to visit their lighthouse. They guy who worked at the lighthouse was pretty excited to show us around and we got to go up to the top. He told us a little bit about the history and that they were holding concerts once in a while. On our way to Borganes we decided to take a little detour to visit the Hraunfossar Falls. It was a really nice area to walk around in and we got to see loads of little waterfall. The contrast of the white snow and the clear water was absolutely stunning and I can say for sure that this was one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Iceland so far.
When we arrived in Borganes they sun already started setting and we decided to grab some late lunch at the only open restaurant in the area before heading back to Reykjavik.
The next day it was time to fly back to London. While most of the trip didn't work out the way planned and I didn't really get to see most things I came for I still had a really good time and Iceland is still one of my favourite places to visit.
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