Reykjavik

Iceland has long been on my bucket list. The idea of chasing the Northern Lights in the most northern capital city of the world has long intrigued me. And being a huge fan of the Game Of Thrones series I’ve been even more inclined to go ‘North of the Wall ‘, even though I lacked dragon glass, valerian steel and Jon Snow.

This was the ultimate solo trip for me. I had invested in a 3 layer coat and snow boots in preparation of my long weekend in Reykjavik. However I had not prepared myself mentally for how expensive this Scandinavian trip was about to be.

My EasyJet flight landed after dark. I’ve become a huge fan of using public transport where possible to save some money so I walked through the exit doors of Keflavik Airport into the car park area in desperate search of the bus stop. The area was poorly lit and after asking a couple of people where to get the bus from I was pointed to a small sign in the middle of a deserted area.

The bus eventually came to my relief. I was surprised to find that in a European country they drove on the right hand side of the road. It took an hour to get to my bus stop and after a 10 minute walk and frantically searching for keys in a flower pot, I was finally unlocking the door to the Air BnB apartment I had booked. The apartment had a Norse mythology feel to it with an oceanic vibe. Colours of navy blue, light blue and white filled my temporary home with a very calm energy. The heating had been left on for my comfort thankfully. After a hot shower and a warm cuppa I was in bed ready for a full day of adventure early next morning.

By 8am I was taking the 15 minute walk into the city center, as per Google Maps instruction. The sky was still pitch black and there was hardly anyone around. The wind was icy against my face but my feet were toasty which is all that mattered. I have to admit that when I saw pictures of Hallgrímskirkja it never struck anything in me. However now standing in front of this church I was awestruck and amazed. I felt like a tiny speck staring up the bold front of the church.

Hallgrímskirkja was still closed so I wandered off to find breakfast and stumbled into a crepery. After a satisfying mushroom and cheese crepe I was heading down to the harbor to book a Northern Lights tour for that same evening as well as the Blue Lagoon the following evening. In hindsight the blue lagoon should’ve been booked much earlier for a daytime trip. Next time I will be wiser.

With my tickets securely in my bag I noticed an elf hanging on to a ledge in the wall. I would find 2 more of these mischievous creatures around Reykjavik over the next 2 days.

It was around 10am that the sun decided to finally rise. I walked back up the road to look at the internal architecture of my new favorite church. The organ echoed beautifully up into the curved ceiling. The acoustics gave me goosebumps. I bought a ticket to the tower of the church thinking it was a little expensive but once I was up the top I was amazed by the beautiful views over the city to the bay, and across to the snow capped mountains.


Once back on the ground I strolled down to the port to check out the vessels. I walked along the water taking in the seafood restaurants that smelled liked deep fried heaven. The marina was lined with whale watching tours and to my disappointment I had missed the daily tours which departed at 11am.

I got lost following winding lanes until I found myself back at the ticket office that had sold me my tours earlier. It was lunch time and not knowing what I wanted I stepped into the Hard Rock Cafe and eventually settled for chicken wings and a glass of coke. Sugar had never been so welcome in my body. I enjoyed the alternative playlist while admiring the framed musician’s costumes on the wall. I still had a lot of time before my Northern Lights tour so I headed home for an afternoon nap.

After a couple of hours I headed back into the city for tea and avocado toast. The waitress was extremely friendly and I sat in my food coma and watched her interact with customers. Her friendly smile added to the laid back atmosphere of the cafe and I was sad to leave.

I waited 30 minutes for the shuttle bus to pick me up, although out in the freezing cold it felt a lot longer. After a few pick ups we were dropped off at the main Grayline depot for our coach to chase the Northern Lights. While waiting one of the staff pointed to a blurred green light in the sky and raised our hopes of seeing this wondrous phenomenon.

A short while later we were seated on the heated coach heading out of Reykjavik searching for this elusive light show. We detoured down a gravel road in between snowy mountains and hissing geysers while the tour guide told Icelandic folk tales. My new favourite tale is that of the Deacon of Dark River. We drove until we found a spot in the middle of nowhere. With no toilets. There were at least 10 other coaches which meant a huge crowd was about to gather. We all stood there in the freezing cold, hypothermia surely bound to set in creeping through the bottom of our feet, when these white glimmers started glowing brighter in the sky followed by amazing green lights. And just as soon as they had reached their peak they vanished. The lights were not consistent to the naked eye, only the most powerful of cameras could capture what we couldn’t. As we all stood there waiting and hoping for more, a gentleman got his trumpet out and played some Christmas carols lifting everyone’s spirits. Aurora Borealis gave us one last show before leaving us in darkness. While my camera couldn’t capture the amazing skies I’m glad to have witnessed the number one item on my bucketlist.

It was nearly 3am before I was back in bed with a cough starting to make itself comfortable in my chest.

Knowing the sun wouldn’t be up for a while I enjoyed my sleep in. I took a lazy walk to the Sculpture and Shore walk and snapped some photos of the snow capped mountains across the water as well as the skeletal viking vessell Solfar- the Sun Voyager. When I did eventually get into the city I grabbed myself a toasty and pot of tea at Te Og Kaffi, an Icelandic version of Starbucks. I sat in the cafe a while people watching. After a while I headed in the opposite direction of the harbor toward the City Hall. I snapped up some amazing pictures over the lake while curious ducks and geese watched me.


I began to notice amazing artwork on the buildings and decided to let the amazing street art lead my way. It wasn’t long until I came across a wall that reminded me of the folk tale I had heard the previous night, the Deacon of Dark River. The drawing was absolute perfection, the detail amazing. I continued on my path to find more inspiring graffiti which took up a large portion of my afternoon eventually finding my way back to another Te Og Kaffi for a latte and slice of lemon cake.

I had just beat the afternoon rush and managed to get a table in the corner. I watched the new girl struggle to take orders while desperately trying to find the items on her register. I witnessed an older couple filled with excitement about the adventures that lay ahead, which got me on the move for my final adventure.

We boarded the coach for the Blue Lagoon and within an hour we had reached our destination. The sun had set by now and the air was freezing. Once my wrist band was on I went through the turnstiles and into the ladies change room to slip into my bathers. Once outside my feet went from a freeze burn on the wet decking to a hot burn in the steaming kettle that is the lagoon. I was a human teabag. The water was very relaxing in this amazing juxtaposition of hot and cold. After an hour of letting the water completely relax me I took to the shower for a freshen up and rugged up once more. The heat had drained my energy and with hunger now setting in I grabbed a coffee and crisps, and headed back to the coach for my final sleep in Reykjavik.

Whilst I didn’t summit a volcano or get the chance to see the Golden Circle or cuddle huskies, I am forever grateful for seeing the Northern Lights on my first attempt and having the opportunity to soak in the Blue Lagoon. And while spending so much time in the cold left me with pneumonia I dream of the day when I’ll be back in the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
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