There’s not a single lady in the world that wouldn’t want to see the Northern Lights, so when deciding what to get my girlfriend for our first Valentine’s together, it made perfect sense to book a three day trip to Reykjavik, Iceland. Which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
Of course – like most couples visiting this freezing capital – the one thing that’s on everybody’s mind is the Aurora Borealis, or as it’s better known, Northern Lights. But after checking the locals most trusted forecast every day for a week before leaving, it seemed our chances were pretty slim, so I decided to look into what else was on offer and it turned out that we needed more than just a weekend.
As part-time adventure junkies, we was spoilt for choice and had to pick between snowmobiling, mountain quad biking, river rafting and an incredibly pricey (£1175 pp) erupting volcano helicopter tour!
We opted for the snowmobile as neither of us had never been on one before – perhaps how it should have stayed for Vicky – my primary school teaching Valentine – who I’d advise NEVER goes on one again.
Admittedly, I’m not the greatest passenger in the world, but when you’re at the mercy of your partner’s dodgy steering, flying through the ice at speeds approaching 60kph, you ask yourself whether you’d have been better off walking the Langjokull glacier instead – until of course the tour guide stopped us halfway and let the men takeover! Much better :)
After finally getting dropped off by the Mountaineers of Iceland in one of their beasty 4x4s, it was time to dash back and get changed into something comfortable as we had a Northern Lights trip booked in less than an hour. However before we made it past reception we noticed a big sign which read for the second night in a row, ‘NORTHERN LIGHTS CANCELLED’ – quite often the case apparently if the weather conditions aren’t favourable. We checked with tour operator who confirmed the cancellation and offered us an alternative date or refund.
Not all bad though, as this gave us time to make the most of happy hour and explore the Marina and downtown, where we got to experience the locals favourite foods such as Puffin, Whale and Shark – although we passed on Shark as the smell was horrendous.
Reykjavik comes to life at midnight, never known anywhere like it. It’s just as lovely as it is expensive though, so expect to spend a lot – 4 tapas dishes and a cocktail each cost us £70.
We wasn’t out too late, as had to be up early the next day for the Ultimate Golden Circle – which in addition to the popular site seeing tour, included a Super Jeep Northern Lights chase and the unforgettable Secret Lagoon – a MUST experience for both couples and meditators – exclusive to Floating Tours.
Unfortunately, the weather made it difficult to fully appreciate the Golden Circle’s best views – definitely one for the summer though.
The Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland, set in a small village, Fludir. Luckily for us, we had the natural hot spring to ourselves, all that was needed was for the clouds to pass as we awaited the Northern Lights. They didn’t show though, instead we was showered with snowflakes, which kept our heads cool while our bodies enjoyed bathing in an almost perfect 40° temperatures – we could have spent hours here – but decided to get out not long after a steamy session.. Top marks for location! ;)
A blizzard made our journey back to Reykjavik interesting. Most of the roads had been snowed off – we was left with two options:
1. Grab a hotel and hope the weather’s better by morning.
2. Brave the storm, take the long route and wish for the best.
The latter option being the far more adventurous (and cheapest) – we decided to hit the road and was soon rewarded when the Northern Lights made an appearance.
Not quite as spectacular as the brochure pics, but still it made Vicky’s eye’s light up so I was happy.
Almost four hours later and we finally made it. Thor had somehow managed beat the blizzard, which threw our 3 tonne Jeep all across the road as well as making it practically impossible to see in front.
I’d have paid extra for the adrenaline rush, shame they don’t do excursions like this one – we was generous with the tip.
Last day, tour giants GrayLine set us up with a double transfer from Hotel to Blue Lagoon / Blue Lagoon to airport.
This worked out perfectly, as it meant we got to spend all day sipping Strawberry wine at Iceland’s most popular attraction – and trust me, if your missus is into spas (what girl isn’t) then you’ll need more than two hours here.
Set in the middle of a lava field, this geothermal (naturally heated) pool is one of the most surreal experiences, ever!
Couldn’t think of a better way of spending my last few hours in this fascinating country – works out 20 minutes closer to the airport too!
Quite possibly the coolest place on earth, literally.