Chuck and I recently made a trip to Iceland. I know most of you are thinking why would anyone go to Iceland during the fall or winter seasons. Well it was my idea, as Chuck was quick to tell anyone who found out that we went.
Iceland seems to be the place to go right now, though I think most people go in the summer time. I chose the darker months, because of the northern lights. We’ve never seen them, and the only way to see them is to go north or south during the fall, winter or early spring.
I graduated from Florida State University, and our alumni association planned this trip to Iceland. Collette travel company handled the trip.
It is not a given that one will see the winter lights, because they depend on several factors. It has to be dark, and there is little darkness in the summertime that far north. The conditions have to be right, such as a clear night without much cloud cover. A full moon is OK, because the photographs turn out better; but I think the full moon affects whether you can see it with the naked eye or not. We could photograph auroras that we could not see. Finally the sun has to cooperate, as solar storms are the reason we have auroras in the northern and southern latitudes of our earth.
We left in early November and flew all the way to Reykjavík, Iceland, their capital. Then we spent one night there, before taking a bus to see some of Iceland’s interior.
Reykjavík is a beautiful little city, population about 130,000. The entire island has a population of only about 330,000 people. Most all of them live within about four cities on the coasts. Very few live in the interior.
We felt perfectly safe walking around the little city at night, and the next morning we took a tour of the city.
We learned that the name Reykjavík means smoky bay. Vik means bay. Our hotel is in the middle of the town and right outside its front doors was a monument to the first man to settle Iceland in 874 AD–Ingólfur Arnarson. Our guide was a descendent.
We visited its Parliament which wasn’t built until the 1800s.
We got a big kick out of their statue by the duck pond called “The Unknown Bureaucrat.” One can interpret this either way, but we chose to interpret it as satire. Almost every member of our family has been a bureaucrat at one time or the other.
There is an American bar, but they didn’t have any games which we were interested in. There was a Penn State game versus Minnesota played throughout the bar on Saturday night. Icelanders are ethnically Vikings.
The duck pond was frozen, but not enough yet to ice skate.
Temperatures in Iceland seldom get below 20° because of the Gulf Stream.
The ducks and swans still like their pond though.
Sunrises come around 10 o’clock in the morning as you can see above.
Their gardens in the winter look barren.
Icelanders are Lutherans, and this is the oldest church in the city.
After dinner the first night, we boarded a whale watching ship to go out into the bay far away from the city to see the northern lights.
We were somewhat successful. Over a snow topped mountain near the bay, an Aurora began to form: but you could not see it with the naked eye. I caught a photo, using directions from someone else who had a camera who could see it. It was ok, but a little blurry.
Kevin with our group, though, caught this shot, a much better one than my own.
The next day we boarded a bus and toured some of Iceland’s interior.