It feels like forever since I had the most amazing holiday in Iceland with my friend Carla (of Carla Thomas Photography) back in November – and I can’t believe its taken me this long to post about it *tut-tut* but here it is – our incredible trip to Iceland.
We arrived on an icy cold, windy and damp evening and were greeted with a simple but comfortable* suite in the Arctic Comfort hotel – a short bus ride from the city centre. It was late and we were both pretty tired after a long and stressful journey so we decided to go for a quick walk to grab some food before getting an early night. There was a 24/7 supermarket just down the road but the allure of the dominoes next door proved too much for our grumbly tummies and so we grabbed two big pizzas and headed back to our apartment style room in the hotel to tuck in. Our early night paid off when we woke with the sun the next morning to this spectacular view from our living room window!
* you gotta be ‘comfortable’ with your room mate in this hotel as the bathroom door was CLEAR GLASS – we kept the music on high and warned each other not to look during loo and shower usage!
Quick sulphur smelling showers and an ‘interesting’ continental breakfast at the hotel and then we popped down the road to catch the bus into the city centre – it only took about 15 minutes on the bus which went through the main residential areas of Reykjavik and I really loved our mini commute each way.
Reykjavik is absolutely stunning and we spent our first day wandering around the city centre. It’s a small city and it feels so incredibly light and airy and ‘open’ thanks to the fact that the majority of the buildings are low height and that the city is built around the harbour with fantastic views across the water visible from most parts of the city centre. As you can see I took full advantage of travelling with a professional photographer to get arty with my camera!
We made regular stops for hot coffees to help us keep warm and found the most amazing bakery called Braud & Co which has a super colourful graffiti wall outside and sold The.Best.Cinnamon.Buns.Ever (that is an absolute fact and I’ve craved them ever since) – the buns were seriously the size of my head and so tasty that we ended up going back pretty much everyday for more!
At the end of our first day we’d booked up to go on three different tours – one being the Golden Circle tour, one the South Shore Adventure and the last being the Northern Lights tour. We booked them all with Reykjavik Excursions who were incredibly helpful and persuaded us to to go on the Northern Lights tour that very night.
I’ll be honest here – we’d been up since the crack of dawn and on our feet most of the day; I was cold, tired and feeling less than enthusiastic about the idea of anything other than binging on netflix that evening but I agreed that we’d book onto the tour for our first night in Iceland as the guide was adamant that the skies were at their clearest that night and that we would have a better chance of spotting the elusive Northern Lights.
And so it was with a bit of reluctance (and a bit of bribery from Carla in the form of cinnamon buns) that I climbed into our coach at 9pm in the bitter cold for our Northern Lights trip. The coach drove us out to Þingvellir national park where we all jumped off and where we stomped about a bit both trying to find the perfect place to set up the camera tripod and to keep warm!
I’ve gotta say – I was so over my reluctance by the time we arrived and stepping out of that coach, looking up a sky full of stars like I had never seen before, just completely thrilled me. The stars were so clear you could actually see the constellations and I had to sit down in complete awe of the beauty of nature – we so rarely get to see stars living in London and that night was incredible.
We waited there for nearly two hours; honestly feeling like we were going to freeze solid, and doing lots of jumping jacks to keep warm *ok that might have just been me – I don’t deal with the cold too well ha! You can imagine how dissapointed we were when the guide told us that we had to call it a night and head back to the city!
However halfway back the guide recieved a message over the radio – the lights were coming out and we had to turn around and race back to the National Park as quickly as we could. One pretty hair-raising drive back down pitch black roads and we stepped back out of the coach and got to see the most spectacular sight I have ever seen – the Northern Lights.
Incredible shot captured by Carla Thomas
I’ll never forget turning to Carla and seeing my smile reflected on her face, throwing our arms around each other and being giddy with excitement and happiness that we got to see them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so incredible – actually just writing about it has left me feeling warm and emotional!
I’ll be back soon with some more details about our trip – but do check out my YouTube video below for a quick snapshot of our time there: