Sandwiched between the Northern American and Eurasian tectonic plates, staring into a crack in the earth’s crust, I should have felt right at home. Which side to choose? I was in Iceland, in a lake, in water which was two degrees c. We swam between the plates with one hand on Europe and the other on America, and then on into the cathedral where the crack opened up and as we were deeper the plates towered above us on either side. Swimming into the middle of the earth.
Highly recommended but this trip comes with a health warning. It was my toughest dive yet, both physically and mentally. Top tips; take plenty of warm, dry clothes, chocolate and think twice if you are inexperienced. The day is 100% down to you, the dive outfit was aloof.
If at this point we believed it was Team “Awesome” 1, nature 0, she quickly settled the score as we set out to hunt down the Northern lights – a phenomena caused by sun particles hitting the earth’s atmosphere.
Only visible in the dark hours of winter and dependent on a clear sky we had lucked out. Complete with much billed sun activity 2 days previous we were optimistic. Instead, three hours of standing in a freezing car park in the Thingviller national park later we turned back. Refusing to give up, the next evening we were back, armed with red wine, plastic cups and extra socks. Our stubborn resolve paid off. What started off as a milky cloud was our first sign of northern lights activity. Success. As the activity strengthened these wisps took on a green hue which got brighter, moving and twisting and building before fading back into the distance. Only for another part of the sky to take its cue. A silent nighttime symphony.
Iceland feels other worldly with its dark volcanic rock and barren landscape, framed by few dramatic mountains. In one day you can see the hot bubbling thermal pools of geysir, and watch volumes of freezing water crashing over the rocks at the gullfoss waterfall ten minutes up the road.
In contrast to the harsh landscape, the softer side of Iceland can be found at the Blue Lagoon. A perfect girls day out: soak in the hot thermal water, cake yourselves in volcanic mud and get pummeled by a troll. All before happy hour at the swim up bar. To add a splash of luxury, splurge on the salt glow and massage. Go midweek to avoid the crowds and take leave in hair conditioner.
We stayed in an apartment in Reykjavik which was great – self catering helped keep the costs down and it was very centrally located. If there at the weekend and not there to party bring earplugs. The party, “runtur”, turns a small unsuspecting fishing town into a university freshers week. From 12am-5am the Icelandic appear as if out of the sea ready to party, hard. They literally spill out of the plethora of bars which are pumping loud music and while their night away dancing between them. Do like the locals do and drink beforehand to avoid a hefty tab, having stocked up at duty free.
Other highlights? We celebrated Amy’s birthday dinner with a truly fantastic meal at the Seafood Cellar restaurant. The catfish with pork belly and parsnip mash a dish not to be forgotten. Else warm up with a bowl of lobster soup at saegreifinn, a seafood shack on the harbour and end your trip with Wolf fish at Icelandic fish and chips before a return stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport anyone?