In Search of the Northern Lights in Iceland travel blog

9:30 a.m.- 1hr 15 min til sunrise

We Can See Some of the Mountain

Arnarstapi

$57 Lunch

View from the Bus

Djupalonssandur - Black Pearl Beach

Ready for the Northern Lights


Today is a free day for us so Judi and I decided last night to take one of the optional tours that appealed to us, the Wonders of Snaefellsnes. The cold, rain, and wind forecast for today hindered trying to explore Reykjavik on foot so we opted for a warm, dry bus. Snaefellsnes is peninsula in the west of Iceland that is almost like a miniature version of the landscapes of the whole country. We started out at 7:30 a.m which, of course, it was still dark as sunrise is not until 10:45. Early in the trip the tour guide was telling us about the mountains that protect Reykjavik from the artic winds that were on the left. Unfortunately, we couldn't see a thing. To get to Snaefellsnes we passed thru a 6 km tunnel under the sea and a long new bridge, over the sea, to get to the peninsula. Our first stop was a yellow sand beach which is rare in Iceland. Most of the beaches are black sand. Unfortunately, we didn't see much as the wind was so strong it blew the rain right into your face. We gave it a good try and lasted for a couple minutes and got a couple pictures. Some of the hardier souls made it to the water's edge. On to our next stop at Arnarstapi at the foot of Mr. Stapafell. The extraordinary columnar basalt and cliff formations here are breathtaking in beauty and one of Iceland's most beautiful natural harbours. Here the plan was to take a 45-minute hike along the cliffs. Judi and I opted to stay on the bus since, in addition to the weather, you couldn't really see anything and, amazingly, we were the only ones. The bus driver accomodated us and let us walk down to a viewing point before moving on to the pick up spot. We spent some time there checking out a stone monument but headed back to the bus pretty quickly cold and wet. After a while, the rest of our party started staggering back to the bus frozen and drenched. Now it was time for lunch at

Primus Kaffi, a cute restaurant in Hellnar. Almost everyone had soup including us. Judi C, had mushroom and I had the Icelandic Meat Soup which is lamb, potatoes and vegetables and both were delicious. We also split a plate of their meatballs--5 meatballs, 5 little potatoes, a small portion of cole slaw and some berry jelly. We never did figure out what the jelly was for. Iceland is very expensive, if we haven't mentioned it before. The bill was $57 and that was with no drinks. The lamb soup alone was about $23. We thought it was a cheap meal until we realized we divided by too many zeros. Back on the road our guide mentioned we were driving by the Snaefellsjokull glacier but we couldn't see anything due to the cloud cover. Dj├║pal├│nssandur or the Black Lava Pearl Beach is our next stop and by now the rain and wind have calmed down enough to walk out to the cliff edge to view the beach. Some of the hardier people climbed down the Path of the Bulls through the lagoons out to the beach. There are lots of beautiful rock formations and much Icelandic folklore associated with many of them (trolls are big in Iceland). By now we have reached the northern side of the peninsula where the winds are stronger. The bus driver had shared with us while we were waiting for everyone to come back from the hike that it would be too windy to continue on the northern side, but evidently he felt the winds had died down enough to not blow the bus over. When we stopped to view some black lava pools on the side of the road it was still windy enough to feel like we were going to be blown over. We had one last comfort stop at Cafe Emil in Grundarfjordur which had a little bookstore and a slide show of the history of this fishing village. I have to Icelanders are a hardy bunch. I was pretty excited to find that the cafe served my favorite chai latte, David Rio's Flamingo Vanilla sugar-free. It was really nice with steamed milk. I may have to invest in a milk steamer when I get home. As we boarded the bus to return to Reykjavik, our guide informed us that based on the latest forecast the Northern Lights excursion was on for tonight. We were so surprised because it had been so cloudy, rainy, and windy all day. We got back to our hotel with about 30 minutes to spare. For some reason, the tour bus dropped off everyone else at, or within a block of, their hotel. There were about 10 of us from our group who had opted for this optional tour, and we were the only ones to tip the guide and driver, and we got dropped off about 7-8 long blocks from our hotel. So we grabbed our camera gear from our hotel room and got lamb pita sandwiches at the restaurant across the square and jumped on the bus. Unfortunately it was for naught. We went to a national park outside of town and set up our cameras. Being out in the cold and moving around is one thing. Being out there and just standing gets really cold. We waited for awhile and were encouraged when we saw some stars. But then it clouded back over. Our guide checked with other groups in different areas and no one was seeing anything. So we packed everything up and headed home. We still had one more chance tomorrow. JB



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