Country #58 - Iceland Day 2

The Northern Lights

Today we started the day off by pretty expectedly oversleeping. We were so tired and another long day was ahead of us so an hour late start was totally justified. We grabbed a quick breakfast to go from a place called Sandholt and then headed off towards the Golden Circle. The first thirty minutes of the drive were exactly the same as yesterday, and then we curved off towards the left to start the Golden Circle at Kerio.

Kerio is a giant crater formed by volcanic activity - basically, the magma drained out, the ground collapsed, and Kerio was born. That’s the gist of what I gathered, at least. We walked along the outside of it and it was a pretty quick stop as literally there is nothing to see other than a hole in the ground. From Kerio we drove on to our farthest point for the day, Gullfoss (another waterfall!). This one was pretty spectacular but, unlike Skógafoss yesterday, it actually reminded me a lot of Iguazu Falls. It basically felt like a mini Iguazu, but even at that, it was amazing and breathtaking. So much water was continually flowing over Gullfoss and it was so interesting to learn about the history as well. There are great views from the top and bottom of Gullfoss so I recommend you do both!

From Gullfoss, we drove maybe five minutes back up the road to Haukadalur. Haukadalur is an active system of geysers and is right next to a geyser called geyser which, uncoincidentally, is where the name geyser came from! The namesake is actually no longer active but it was really cool to see Haukadalur in action. It would explode to varying degrees and send water shooting up between every five and ten minutes. It was also enjoyable to walk around and see the smaller pools of water.

After Haukadalur we made our way to Þingvellir National Park. We didn’t spend a lot of time there because we didn’t have time to really walk through it, but at the main visitors' entrance there is an amazing view out over the park and you can also actually see the break in tectonic plates. This was our last stop for the day before dinner. There aren’t a ton of restaurants outside of Reykjavik near where we were so we had to drive back into the city. We ate at a cute place and I had an amazing and much-needed burger, fries, and garlic mayo. I finished the whole burger before Sydney was even halfway through proving definitively that she is the slowest eater I know.

After dinner, we stopped back by Old Charm to put on extra layers before driving forty-five minutes outside of the city to attempt to see the Northern Lights! We were too tired to even possibly try last night, and also yesterday there ended up being clouds that were not originally in the forecast (and clouds make the Northern Lights impossible to see). So all day today I gave an hourly cloud update and good news, the clouds never came! My hopes were definitely up after reading the forecast that we had a possibility of seeing them. This is the second time I’ve tried to see the Northern Lights, the first being when my brother visited me last year during study abroad and we walked around a frozen lake in Norway to no avail. So I was definitely hoping that this freezing lake experience would be a more positive one.

The drive out went from being in Reykjavik to being in the middle of nowhere in what felt like ten seconds. Once we were on the road driving to the lake I drove so slow because there was no one around and it was so dark I wanted to avoid driving off the side of a cliff into a lake that I couldn’t see. We found a parking spot on the side of the road and started to look. I had read that you never know when during the night that they will be active, so when we saw a faint light upon our arrival I almost didn’t believe it. It was really faint - so much so that we weren’t sure it was the Northern Lights. But within maybe five minutes tops we were positive. It was them! I was so excited!

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They were so cool to watch the lights move and we took pictures for about an hour and a half (keep in mind that it’s actually freezing outside). We tried so hard to take pictures that weren’t blurry and thankfully got a few good ones! There are definitely some pretty funny bloopers, though. The Northern Lights has been at the top of my list to see for a very long time, and they definitely surpassed my expectations. Seeing the Lights, coupled with more stars than you could even imagine, just did not feel like it was even real it was so cool to see and experience.

It was another successful day in Iceland and I really don’t want to leave tomorrow. Every second was amazing because even on drives across the country I was constantly enamoured with the otherworldly views of the country. I would love to come back and spend a week (or more!) driving all over the entire country, especially since we Googled it and, square mileage wise, Iceland is smaller than the state of Alabama (so very easily doable to drive the whole thing). I had no idea that Iceland was so small because like everything else near the poles of a globe it looks so large! If you weren’t convinced after day one to visit Iceland I hope that you are now. It is truly indescribable but I hope that I’ve done it at least a little justice in the blogs!

58 countries down, 139 to go.

Read about my first day in Iceland here.

Read about my third day in Iceland here.

To learn more about Old Charm Reykjavik Apartments click here.