My husband’s friend and his girlfriend transit in London for 10 hours last Sun, while on their way back to Malaysia from a 16 days free and easy holidays in Iceland. Coincidentally, BBC broadcast a documentary about the volcano eruption in Iceland in 2010 which has halted air traffics in Europe. The pictures that my husband’s friend took and what was shown on BBC reminded me of what a beautiful country Iceland is. We actually went to Reykjavik a 2-3 weeks before the volcano eruption.
To begin with, Iceland was not on our holiday destination list. Being an ignorant person I am, I didn’t know much about this country. I thought the name of the country tells it all about this country. We went in winter, yup, I thought I was braved enough despite the stark warning of the season, just deciphering by its name. Then again, it was Iceland Air packages that attracted us to go to Reykjavik. It was starting from £200 for 4 days 3 nights, including a free escorted trip to see northern lights. It was a good and affordable deal, and my husband had been telling me about northern lights. I didn’t know much about northern lights, until I met my husband. He was the one keen on this natural phenomenon.
Anyway, this trip was a revelation to me. Iceland wasn’t really that icy cold as I have thought. In fact, it was quite mild when we were there. The lowest temperature was minus 12 degree, on the first night when we went to hunt for northern lights. Right, -12 degree is chilly, but I was expecting Iceland to be -20 or -40 degree. I know I was in Reykjavik and not other part of Iceland, so I can’t quite conclude based on Reykjavik itself. That’s true. But as I mentioned earlier, I was ignorant about this country and I really thought regardless of where I go, it’ll be -20 degree and below. My stupid belief debunked!
Secondly, I was at the beginning of learning photography with DSLR and shooting in low lights has always been a challenge to me. Therefore to ensure I manage to take the pictures of northern lights, I did a lot of online research. All I have to do is to adjust 3 settings, the ISO set to at least 800 and above. Aperture which controls the amount of lights to the camera, (or marked as f) should be kept as large as possible (or in layman term, to keep the f tothe lowest of the camera has) and the shutter speeds have to be slow so that it allows more lights to go in. I am not going into details, but there are a lot of good blogs that provides such information, such as Lapland In My Heart, Alaskan Photography Blog, etc.
Little did I knew that I learnt how to protect my camera during winter, especially when the temperature of two places is massively different. Perfect example would be when I’m indoor with heater on and when I am outdoor when the temperature is sub-zero.
Thirdly, on the first night when we went to hunt the northern lights, we were brought to the þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO heritage site. It was away from the city and hence lights. It was supposed to be pitch dark, however that night was full moon and therefore, we had a big natural light from the moon. I have never knew that moon light could be so bright! However moon light could be the enemy of the northern lights. We took our chance nevertheless. The results of the first night:
We went for the free northern light tour the following night (package from Iceland Air), and we were taken to a big empty land (next to a pig farm, and so the smell of the night) for northern lights. That night was a better night as there were more northern lights activities than the first night we went when it was full moon. The photos of that night:
Now at the national park, I was privileged enough to step on the tectonic plates, which separate the Eurasia and North America. These plates move every year, separating Eurasia and North America even further. The following pictures were taken at the national park during day time.
Another highlight of the trip was Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, which is situated on a lava field. The spa is kept at between 36 to 38 degree, therefore although the temperature on that day was -2 to -5 degree celcius, we were comfortably soaked in the spa, which is located outdoor. It was quite a heavenly experience. The first picture was taken outside of the lagoon and the 2nd was inside the lagoon.
Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir Geothermal and Pingvellir National Park is a famous Golden Circle excursion in Iceland. The following pictures were taken from Gullfoss waterfall (frozen however) and the geysir.
There are 2 Reykjavik cities according to a tour guide. The 2 cities are separated by another town called Moss Town (or something like that). The one that we went to was the old city. There aren’t really a lot of people inhabit in this city. So we feel that the place is quite deserted and spacious. Last but not least, the infamous The Church of Hallgrimur, and Lake Tjornin, at dawn.