A recount of our trip to Iceland in March 2013.
Emma and I decided Iceland would be our next weekend break. Its within a few hours flight from the UK and was a destination guaranteed to see the northern lights. In fact, we was told 2013 would be one of the better years for seeing this natural phenomenon.
Iceland isn’t a cheap weekend break (but where is these days!), its a place we was both looking forward to seeing something different. We booked this break through Iceland Air, which included a good quality hotel and more importantly secured our seats for our northern lights visual extravaganza.
We was staying in Iceland for 3 nights. The first night was essentially ours, where we would head in to Reykjavik centre for food and wine (my god! Alcohol was so expensive). The second night was our northern lights excursion and the third day was to be spent whale watching. There are so many other activities to do and we decided to fit them in and around these two main activities which had been pre-booked.
Reykjavik is, simply, a cool place. Vibrant, energetic, artistic, adventurous, almost hippy-like (Scandinavian style!). We didn’t land until mid-afternoon so by the time we sorted ourselves out at the hotel, it was getting late so we headed straight in to town to check out the restaurants.
There definitely isn’t a shortage or places to eat but be warned they do get busy. If visiting for the first time, use your first day to look around and check out the restaurant menus. Its then worth trying to book a table otherwise you will run the risk of not being able to get a seat.
Iceland is famed for its menu of Puffin and Whale (amongst other oddities). If you want to try these then by all means. Look around first, as not every place serves these dishes. In fact, there is actually a high concentration of Icelandic people that disagree with the hunting of these animals. Anyway, choice is yours.
I won’t go in to too much detail, but our evening was lovely, great food, great wine, good restaurant (can’t remember the name of the place) and actually not so bad price.
We went back to the hotel for a nightcap and hit the sack ready for a day of exploring and deciding what to do.
As we sorted ourselves out for the day, we picked up some brochures and grabbed our phones and did a little research on fun things to do in Iceland. We had settled on exploring the inner City, get our bearings whilst there was light. Have some lunch then head back to the hotel, grab our swimming gear and head off to the blue lagoon for an afternoon of relaxation ahead of our evening pickup to chase the northern lights.
All was going well up to the point of trying to locate the bus station. The map pointed us up the road and was told we couldn’t miss it. Well, we did. Becoming frustrated and narky with one another, the heavens opened and absolutely p*ssed it down. There was only so long our water proofs held out. We turned around and went straight back to the hotel. Everything in my daypack was wet through. Everything from wallet, passport, camera…everything!
We grabbed a hot shower, got changed and sat in the hotel bar with a drink and had a little laugh about generally how inept and unlucky we are!
Time was fast approaching for our pickup and before we knew it, a reception staff member came over and advised us that the tour company have had to cancel the northern lights tour for the evening due to cloud cover. But (as if we should be highly thankful), they will try again the following evening.
Seeing as we paid upfront for this we thought we would scrap our plans for the last evening and try again.
Anyway, tomorrow is another day and whale watching here we come.
After several more drinks the previous night we woke with somewhat of heavy head. We sank a couple of cups of coffee, had some breakfast and grabbed our kit and made our way down to the docks to see some whales.
We kitted ourselves up and along with the many other eager visitors, went up on deck with our cameras ready to catch sight of these monsters of the sea.
Three hours later, shivering, feeling a little queasy (Ill put it down to sea-sickness rather the previous nights alcohol!!), we had managed to see……NOTHING, nada, zilch!
We really was getting the impression that Iceland was not meant for us.
We got back to dock, feeling a little dejected, hit the nearest bar for a beer! But, we still had the northern lights tour and fingers crossed tonight will be the night!
NOPE. Same thing as last time. Too cloudy. Oh, but they could fit us in the following evening. Unfortunately, this evening was our last so we’ll just have a refund and be on our “merry” way.
“Sorry Sir, there are no refunds!”
I won’t go in to what I then went on to say but in a nutshell, the fine print did state this. Crazy.
But hey, we did pick up a cheap bottle of vodka at the airport!!!