We’ve been dealing with sub-zero temperatures pretty much the entire time we’ve been here and it’s quite a challenge to deal with less-than-benign weather conditions in a jet-lagged,sleep-deprived state. Sunrise was after 10am (!) but the dim light bathed the city in an ethereal quietness that I’ve missed so much when we walked out for breakfast. A free day spent wandering the cute streets of Reykjavik degenerated into a wrestle with several Danish washing machines in a Laundromat cafe which seemed determined to make me burst a vessel.
Reykjavik is home to the majority of the 320,000-large population, and surrounded by imposing peaks from the harbour, is at times breathtaking, and at worst, communist-drab. Sometimes, the stark difference is seen on parallel streets. Under the veneer of civilisation lies however, expanses of geography best described in fantasy novels, the desolate beauty of mountain ranges and endless swathes of arctic deserts where no one has quite yet trodden. The locals are curt and direct (perhaps a translation of their language makes it so?) but helpful and gregarious – and we still haven’t had a bad meal thus far. We’ve done too many walks down the harbour for my liking and not all of it is voluntary but geographical embarrassment aside, TC’s insistence on trying Fish and Chips the Icelandic way did pay off rather pleasantly.
It is this glimpse of Iceland that I had on the Northern Lights tour, all of which were done unfortunately with huge loads of tour buses. “Hershey” the guide told us trivia with an uncertain sense of Icelandic humour best appreciated by those belonging to the 4th dimension en route. Questions were good, he said, but sex is “beyond the scope of tonight’s activities”. I still don’t know how far we went, except for the fact that we drove on and on, chasing every expanse of clear sky, finally stopping near the south shore to look at the sky for a long long time. The lights faded in gradually and winked out without much fanfare I’m sort of disappointed, but gratified. It’s after all, one of the original driving factors for coming here.