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Aug 06

How I fell in love with Iceland [Part 1/4]


There are some memories which leave an engraving on your mind; my trip to Iceland is just one of them. It was holiday season in Denmark with Christmas fast approaching and I was frantically searching for a place to explore. With hotels and flights filling up at the speed of light, I was not left with many options as I had covered most of the Europe by this time and wanted to explore some place remote.

My mind was looking for something unique;

Q. What is the most prevalent thing in this part of the world; at this time of the year?
Ans: Long Nights (except for Christmas of course )

Q. Can I see northern lights in this part of the world?
Ans: Most Definitely

Q. Where?
A quick Google search later I had narrowed down on two locations.

Lapland (in Finland) and Tromso (in Norway). My first choice was Finland but it quickly became clear that going to Lapland at this time of the year is way too expensive (after all everybody wants to meet Santa!). It also turned out that to reach a place (somewhere above Lapland) where there was actually a chance to see the northern lights would take an extra day, which unfortunately was not an option. Tromso too dropped out of the list because it was too difficult and expensive to reach. Due to the limited time we had, the only feasible option was to travel by air to Tromso. There were not too many flights to Tromso in a day and transit timings were proving to be a challenge.

The very thought of missing the opportunity to witness a wonder of nature was disappointing. The disappointment did not last for long though, searching for more probable places to witness the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) led me to Iceland.

Here is what my initial impression about Iceland was:

1. Difficult to reach.
2. Covered in permafrost. Ice Ice and more Ice everywhere.
3. An Exotic location where only rich people can afford to go for vacation.
4. A place which you’ll only get to see in a Discovery or NatGeo documentary!

There are two websites on which I heavily rely when planning a trip www.momondo.com for flight searches and www.hotelscombined.com for comparing the hotel rates. To my surprise, the flights from Copenhagen to Reykjavik were available at dirt cheap prices and so were the hotels! In no time, I had my credit card out ready for the bookings. 5 minutes later, I was all set to witness my dream come true…

The trip was still 15 loooong days away and all these days I had nothing but Iceland on my mind. My only dream was to witness the Northern Lights and I hoped and prayed that the Sun releases a massive solar flare 3-4 days prior to our trip (read wiki). I also signed up on a couple of websites which provide a real-time alert service when the Aurora is visible.

The day finally arrived and we boarded the 3 hour noon flight from Copenhagen to Reykjavik. We were four guys looking forward to an awesome adventure. The adventure sure did start right from the airport. We could see thick slabs of ice floating in the sea from the window and as we approached Reykjavik the ice became more prevalent. The aircraft soon descended and our view was blocked by dense fog! Upon landing (smooth landing) the view cleared a bit but all we could see was snow and ice outside.. no tarmac..nothing! It was as if we had landed on a glacier (don’t believe me! check out the pictures below). The aircraft taxied slowly towards the terminal and docked at the aero-bridge.

We were in Iceland and for me it was love at first sight :) ..[End of Part 1]…. [Read Part 2]

Trip Details:

Dates Travelled : 18th Jan 2008 – 22nd Jan 2008
Hotel Booked : Cabin Hotel Reykjavik (2925 DKK for 2 rooms / 4 nights)
Flight: Iceland Express (1000 DKK pp return)
Car Hire: Berg ( 4000 DKK for 3 days including fuel)

 

66 deg. NorthOur Aircraft to IcelandView of Iceland from the aircraftFlying over a glacierCracks visible in the Ice sheetLooking outside the aeroplaneMisty IcelandThe airport was covered in snowSignpostsAirport terminal covered in snow