Chasing Lights

It's hard not to fall in love with Iceland.
I could not think of a more perfect place to usher in the new year, and our new life as a married couple as well. ^^

Granted, the dead of winter is not the most ideal honeymoon weather - we had so many layers on we couldn't even manage a hug - but we did end up utterly, utterly smitten.

We stayed in this really neat little concept hotel called Reykjavik Lights. I have been all about concept hotels lately and this one, with its Scandinavian decor and rain showers (which I am also a sucker for), is a clear favorite. Not the most convenient, though, as it's a bit far from the city center, but most of the time we were on tours so it was not too big of an issue.

We wanted to keep our itinerary relaxed and maybe just a tad bit lazy (it is our honeymoon, after all) so apart from a couple of pre-bookings we mostly just played it by ear. Icelandic weather is notorious for being unpredictable, so it also was nice to have the flexibility to move things about. Most tours can be booked on short notice, anyway, and they pick you up directly from the hotel; it's all very convenient, really.

Our favorite trips were with GeoIceland. They operate relatively small tour groups, the guides are fun and knowledgeable, and the buses are clean and roomy. They also provided crampons to keep us from slipping on the icy footpaths (people were slipping and sliding and just getting completely wiped out everywhere we went, so these were lifesavers).

A definite highlight of this trip was the Sólheimajökull glacier walk.
Anything that involves glaciers, really, is a sure win for me, but my goodness! It was absolutely breathtaking. I could probably stand there for hours, just taking in the majesty of it all. Pictures don't do it justice, words don't do it justice.

Now to address the elephant in the room: we did see the Northern Lights! It took us three tries, and hours upon hours of shivering in the bitter cold until the universe finally decided we were worthy. We have actually given up at that point, having waited for hours to no avail, and everyone was already asleep as the bus made its way back to Reykjavik. And then without warning all the lights on the bus suddenly turned on, accompanied by shouts of "Lights! Lights! We have lights!" and immediately every single person on the bus sprang into action and made a mad dash outside. Unfortunately what was promising to be a spectacular show was overrun by clouds in no time, but we'd have to be content with what felt like a mere glimpse.

I do wish someone told me it was prettier in photos than in real life. At one point I was convinced my camera was making things up because it would register this pretty green stripe when all I can see is gray. It's almost like cheating, except I don't know how I'm doing it.

The Blue Lagoon is one big giant tourist trap - it's near the airport, it sells ridiculously overpriced products, and, in a country with no shortage of jaw-dropping, disgustingly beautiful natural wonders, is completely manmade. I am also not the biggest fan of hot springs, or frolicking in the water in general. And yet every single moment I spent here, I loved.

A steamy hot outdoor pool in subzero temperatures is not exactly my idea of relaxation, but I am so happy to have been proven wrong. Worth the initial panic of having to shower naked in an open-plan cubicle with complete strangers (years and years of Catholic schooling have lasting effects, see).

I can't wait to go back.

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