Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Land of Fire & Ice

I read an article in Lonely Planet about Iceland about a year ago and decided I would add it to my list.  It sounded incredibly fascinating, and seemed like an easy enough trip.  When I found out in early May that I had to use some vacation time (a long story), I tried to convince my cousin that we should go to Iceland.  She was not easily convinced, but after several failed attempts to book trips elsewhere I finally won her over.  Well, to be fair, I think Pinterest pictures of the Blue Lagoon won her over, but regardless of where the credit lies, I found a good deal and she said "Yes!"

WOW Airlines now flies from Pittsburgh to Reykjavík non-stop, and at a very reasonable price, so it's actually very easy to go for a long weekend; which is basically what we did, just during the week.  We flew out Monday night (arrived early Tuesday morning) and left Friday afternoon.  If we were to do it over I might choose a different flight arrival time, or perhaps I'd book a hotel night for the night we left (meaning we could check into our room at 6am when we arrived).  Depending on the difference in cost between flight times, it might be cheaper to have the extra hotel night expense.  Anyway, Tuesday was a bit brutal since I don't function well without proper rest and I can never sleep well on planes.  We made the best use of our early morning by settling into some lounge chairs in the lobby and trying to sleep, then we decided to go find a bakery (this act unwittingly set the tone for our trip) before our tour began at 9:30am.

We did a tour of the city (obligatory photos below) and also visited the Northern Lights Center where we learned about the aurora, got our hopes up about seeing the aurora, and saw spectacular photographs of said phenomenon.

Reykjavík with Hallgrímskirkja Church in the background
HÖFÐI House - where Reagan and Gorbachev met in October 1986

Hallgrímskirkja - Lutheran (Church of Iceland) 
Viking statue outside the Saga Museum
We also had a quick tour of Perlan (The Pearl); four hot-water storage tanks, situated on a hill, on top of which they created a beautiful glass dome that houses a restaurant and gift shop.  Surrounding the dome is an observation deck with fantastic views of the city.  They just opened a man-made ice cave inside one of the old tanks, but we didn't have time to visit that. We returned to our hotel around 2pm, and were thankfully allowed to check into our rooms and get some proper rest.  We would be heading out to attempt to view the elusive Northern Lights at 9pm.

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