Considering I do not normally drink alcohol, I woke up on New Year’s Day expecting to feel like hell. Instead, I was let off lightly and only felt a little nauseous. I was of course very fatigued but I would have expected that anyway, alcohol or no alcohol. Unsurprisingly, the morning consisted of being extremely lazy, lounging around at the hostel. Despite feeling as though I could spend all day in bed I knew I had to get out and about to start to feel better. I had no option but to get some more energy about me as at 2am in the morning we had decided to book ourselves onto a Northern Lights tour, which left at 9pm. I therefore had another late night ahead of me.
A few of us headed into town at lunch time for a walk around to get some fresh air. We decided to head back towards Hallgrímskirkja with the plan being to ascend to the top of the church’s tower. As it was New Year’s Day the tower was unfortunately closed and so this would have to wait until the next day. Food was next on the agenda but many of the restaurants were understandably closed and the ones that were open were absolutely packed. Café Paris was one of the few places open and the menu looked delicious so we joined the queue of people waiting to be seated. Being a group of 5 counted against us and after waiting for what seemed like an eternity we decided to split up so that we could get seated quicker. I had a delicious spinach pasta dish, which was very tasty but I couldn’t even eat half of it as the portion was so huge!
After lunch my friend suggested we head to the lake to watch the sun set. The majority of the lake was frozen over and there were lots of people walking and even ice skating on it. It made me laugh thinking about how safety conscious living in Britain has made me. I wouldn’t even contemplate venturing out onto a partly frozen lake. Heck, in Britain there would be plenty of signs up telling you not to! We stood watching the sun set over this picturesque lake before heading back to our hostel.
I had a few hours to rest before we set off on our evening tour. The Northern Lights had not shown themselves at all during our trip in Iceland, which had greatly disappointed all of us. We had downloaded apps onto our phones so that we could keep an eye on the forecast but unfortunately most nights were cloudy and the aurora was forecast as low. At the church on New Year’s Eve, one of my friends got talking to a lady from England who told her that we should book ourselves onto a tour as the forecast was meant to be good for the 1st of January. So, as I mentioned, we did so at 2am.
Before we set off I kept checking the aurora forecast on the app. All week it had been a 2 or a 3 (low). I was absolutely ecstatic when I saw that the forecast for between 9pm and midnight was a 6 (moderate). I couldn’t contain my excitement as I dramatically told each of my friends what the forecast was. Would we be lucky and see them?! I was trying not to get ahead of myself but I had a good feeling about it. How perfect would it be to see the Northern Lights on the last night of our trip?
I think everyone must have heard that the aurora forecast was good because there had to have been around 40 buses heading out on the tour that night. Apparently they do not have exact places to go to and it turns out to be a bit of hunt. The driver just heads out of the city, away from artificial light and if the aurora does not show or if it is cloudy, they try somewhere else. Our tour guide was absolutely brilliant. He was so funny. He started by introducing himself and saying that his Icelandic friends shortened his name to “Hussy” but that he believed Americans would have a different meaning to that name so they could call him “Hershey’s” like the chocolate. His description of how the Milky Way was created (which involved a Goddess with giant breasts) had me in stitches. Amid his jokes and humour was some very informative information about the aurora. We had only been driving out of Reykjavik for half an hour at the most when the tour guide spotted something in the sky. He said to look out the right side of the bus and that you could see something starting. Now if I am completely honest, all it looked like to me at this point was a dark cloud! The driver quickly found his way off the road and parked up so that we could all get out and watch. What we saw was absolutely amazing. Green started to streak across the sky and it even danced around slightly at one point. Apparently this was just average as far as the Northern Lights go. I would love to return to see what they consider spectacular as, to me, this was fantastic. One more thing checked off the bucket list!
It has to be said, booking this tour was the best drunken decision ever! What a perfect last night in Iceland.