At the beginning of December, we flew to Iceland for a few days, in hopes of seeing the northern lights. We accomplished that part of our goal and developed some others as well.
- Putting ourselves into a position to see the northern lights was a little like going on a treasure hunt. Our bus would drive to what they thought was a likely location away from the city lights. Then we would all get out of the bus into the freezing cold night and stand around looking at the sky. This happened twice, and all we could see was a few stars. At the third stop, however, the guides were all excited and started pointing out to us where to look. Sure enough, we saw greenish blobs in the sky which gradually morphed into streamers and then into moving curtains. An amazing spectacle.
- Our most sensual experience was swimming in the Blue Lagoon. This is a man-made lake which is fed by the water output of a nearby geothermal power plant. The warm water is a milky blue color because of the concentration of minerals and is a wonderful, even cozy experience. As we were bobbing around in the water, the air was freezing above us, and snow was covering our heads with white flakes. Getting in and out of the water was a little tricky, but we enjoyed the experience anyway.
- Iceland is known for its geothermal activity and natural beauty, and we saw lots of both on a bus tour of a small part of the island. We
watched as the geyser Strokkur erupted spectacularly a few times. This is good for tourists, but there’s another geyser nearby which is less reliable now but even more significant. Its name is Geysir. It was the first geyser recorded in a printed source and the first known to modern Europeans, thus giving its name to this geothermal phenomenon.
- In addition, we spent a little time in Reykjavik, which seems to be a charming and modern city, but our activities there were severely hampered by raging winds and icy sidewalks, both of which made walking extremely challenging. Normally, we learn a city by walking its streets, so we were disappointed that our experience there was so limited.
As we were leaving Iceland to come home, we didn’t have to discuss whether to return. We definitely will – when the weather is better. The people are warm and friendly, they seem to have a civilized society, and the land has an abundance of the rugged and beautiful natural wonders which we love.