When one babble about how marvellous their trip to Iceland were, you’d better believe them. I had a GREAT time in Iceland. I came home refreshed, in an utterly good mood and just full of ideas and ready to tackle ’em all! That is the sign of a wonderful trip, riiiight?!!! 😉 And now in Chrissy’s Odyssey I would like to share the highlights of my Iceland trip. As I begin with the story-telling part of my journey I would like to acknowledge my travel partners: Amelia, Astia, Nelly and Hizkia; YOU GUYS ARE SO UNCH! The trip will not be the same without each and every one of you. I mean it dearly 🙂
Yes, Iceland baby! I finally made it to my dream destination on NYE of 2017 and just like a too-good-to-be-true trip I was welcomed by the dancing Aurora Borealis in the city of Reykjavik. I don’t even have to try so hard, just stroll my way down the street of Laugavegur and there she was. Just like a string of waving green pashmina above my head. A moment to remember.
Coming from the far east tropical archipelago of Indonesia, of course I dreamt of seeing Aurora Borealis. In fact, that is on the top of my bucket list. Although seeing the northern light might be the ultimate objective for anyone visiting Iceland, but I learn that it should not be the case. You should try your best to enjoy and experience the stunning landscape of Iceland and savour every adventures that come with it. Let’s take seeing the Aurora as a sweet reward after the tiring adventure hours. When you have this kind of mindset, I believe you will enjoy Iceland even more.
So… dearest readers, in no particular order, enjoy these highlights and I hope you’ll be inspired to pack your bags and visit Iceland soon!
The new year’s eve in Reykjavik
Welcomed by aurora. Starved and struggled to find a place to eat. Get together with the crowd at Hallsgrimkirkja and witnessed Reykjavík sky lit up with fireworks as the year turned 2017!
Arriving in Iceland on 31 December 2016, we were just hoping to find something to eat and gather around the famous Reykjavik’s bonfire to welcome the new year. We then strolled down Laugavegur and most of the restaurants were packed! As we wandered wondering where to eat, the sky gave us the best surprise. Aurora putting up a show, and I just forgot that I was so hungry. My brain altered its focus to the dancing light above. I was so ecstatic!
Luckily we still could find a table at an Italian restaurant called Ítalía veitingahús. They served great meal and it was also a shock therapy for us on how expensive life in Iceland comparing to home was, LOL! Lessons well learnt and that was a pretty nice dinner to close the year out. Cheers!
Full and refreshed, finally we decided to join the countdown at the famous Reykjavík landmark: Hallsgrimkirkja. A fairly good decision indeed, as the fireworks show were just spectacular.
The Misadventure in Skaftaffel
Walked down a road where no one was walking. Almost Svartifoss. Heavy rain. Bailing out from glacier hike. Sounds like a heck of a day!
We took the long bus ride from Reykjavik to Skaftaffel in a hope for a day-hike on a glacier called Svinafellsjökul where the movie Interstellar was filmed and also a visit to Svartifoss, the beautiful waterfall made from columnar joints, in the Vatnajökul National Park. We arrived just at dinner time to our hotel. We skipped dinner and went straight to bed. Well, I think I had a cup noodle before that 😀
The next morning, the plan was a hike to Svartifoss and come back just in time for glacier hike. We plan to get to Svartivoss by foot from Hotel Skaftaffel, thought it was gonna be a pretty easy walk but turned out that it was quite far and we were the only group walking along the path. Note that: the only humans walking down that road that day. Funny thing was we did not even ask the hotel about the possibility of renting a car or any other kind of transportation. We could actually drive until the National Park entrance. I didn’t know what we were thinking, LOL 😀 I bet we were too excited about the hike and took the 6 Kms distance too lightly. Oh, well, It ended up we did not make it to Svartivoss and even drenched in rain for walking back to the hotel. All wet and shivering, we finally bailed out from the glacier hike and take a nap at the hotel instead. O Wait, one of use still went for the hike, tho… GO Nelly! 🙂 Yeah… that was indeed a day to remember, even writing this down still get me giggling, hahaha.
Anyway, I learnt something from this misadventure. I learnt that in a journey you should just live the moment. That’s right… live in the moment, fellas! Do what feels right even though that is not the plan. You were on a vacation and you were not paid to follow all the itinerary. So… when it feels right to do the opposite, just do it! I did not regret bailing out from the glacier hike, because I felt that a nap and keep myself warm was all that I need that day. I was glad that we were living the moment, as we should 😉
The Aurora Hunting
Three times of aurora sighting and it was never the same each and every time.
Aurora hunting is not for the faint hearted. Seriously. It was so rewarding but you got to commit yourself and be ready to be out in the cold with your camera gear ready. Not to mention you have to regularly check my favourite website whilst in Iceland: http://www.vedur.is. Oh my word, trust me, I knew my way pretty well around that website, LOL.
My first Aurora sighting was not at a hunting. I took it as a welcome from the universe. How lovely.
The real hunting for me was when we were at Snæfellsness. From the forecast, it showed that the northern light was out there. So we were getting ready with beers and snacks (how about that?!) and just be out there waiting for the light to show up. It turned out, as the activity was not that high, it would be hard to catch them with our naked eyes.
This was where the camera come to the rescue. It was quite surreal that the camera lens could pick up the spectrum from the sky where our eyes could not. I pointed my camera to a pitch-black sky and as the camera finished processing, there she was, Lady Aurora showed herself up.
My last aurora sighting was on my last day in Iceland. We joined an aurora tour after the journey to the Southern Coast. We were lucky that night. How sweet of Aurora to bid us farewell on our last night! It was a sight to behold, but, O my Lord, that night was freezing!!! That was the first time I gave up to the cold in Iceland. As cold as it was… I would do aurora hunting all over again. Seeing the northern light was well worth the cold and effort.
The Road Trip
Be it by bus or you drive your own car, the Icelandic landscape will never cease to amaze! You’ll be surprised by random scenic spots along the way.
Its landscape is incredibly scenic and it changed so fast, felt like you were entering a whole different world over and over again. At once you saw hanging cliffs by the sea, then a moss-covered lava plain and suddenly you’re in the valley in between snow-capped mountain. Just amazing. Alright, no more babbling, I think these pictures will help contextualize the experience 😉
The Glacier Lagoon: Jokulsarlon
I was speechless. I never knew that chunks of ice could be that scenic.
Jokulsarlon was so special. It was just a perfect day. After an ice cave experience in Breidamerkurjokull (yea, try to pronounce that one!) I was spoiled by the most beautiful compound of ice sculptures I have ever seen. I will never look at ice the same way again. Dear Christine, you’re being way to hyperbolic here, LOL.
There were NEVER too many waterfalls in Iceland! You just don’t have enough time to explore them all.
Mother of waterfalls! Iceland is home to so many foss (the Icelandic word for waterfall) and they are so so magnificent! If I did recall correctly, I made stop at 5 waterfalls during 11 days in Iceland. In my opinion, it’s not only about the waterfalls, but more to its scenic setting, being wonderfully different for each one of them.
Actually, the one waterfall I was so longing to see was Svartifoss (the columnar joint one in Skaftaffel), but since I failed to get there… I decided that I will be back again! HA! Iceland in summer really sound like a good plan. Svartifoss is not the sole reason afterall, there are just so many parts of Iceland I want to explore!
And one more… I am saving the best for the last. Personally this was one of the most magical moment when I was in Iceland. And it deserves an honorable mention.
The North Atlantic Ocean at Reynisfjara
That afternoon at Reynisfjara was one of my Iceland’s highlights. Just being there watching the wave chasing each other, racing to kiss the shore and finally broke into vapors amidst the sinking sun was indeed a sight hard to forget.
So, folks, there they are- the highlights of my 11 days in Iceland. Days ran out so fast over there… because of all the fun!… and also the short daylight in winter. I hope this travelogue is somehow inspiring and of course… let’s keep on exploring!
Note: I will be back with more stories on Iceland! Stay tuned 😉